I have been reading this page for a while now and couldn’t help but put my 2 cents in on the shelter talk. Now before anyone bites my head off, I do think that the current fire shelters could/should be improved and any loss of life on a fire ground is a tragedy, those are points that are undeniable
With that said, I do want to bring up a few things. From what I have been able to gather, current shelters don’t typically fail (in and of themselves), there is normally some sort of user error. God forgive me, but the four who died in Washington this summer (which is what appears to have sparked the shelter issue), died because of poor choice in deployment area (over the rocky area vs. the “road”) which allowed for super heated gases to get in the shelters. Something I think that we have really failed to comprehend was that the shelters performed just fine for the rest of the crew who did deploy on the “road.” The four who died were not the only ones over run in that fire.
The other thing I want to toss out is that I am primarily a structural firefighter. And like most, when I gear up in full turn out gear (air pack included) I feel invincible, untouchable by fire. Unfortunately most don’t realize that they are not until they have been burned, melted a helmet or set their gear on fire. Once they do that the fact that fire is an awesome, powerful and unpredictable force dawns on then. When the 3 FDNY firefighters died on Father’s Day no one questioned their gear or claimed that if their air packs had more air in them (so they could last for an hour and not 30 minutes) those three may not have died. Those deaths are a tragic example of how dangerous all aspects of firefighting are and that sometimes no matter what, the fire will get the best of you. Basically what I am trying to say is that modern turn out gear protects much better then the gear of the past and due to that, today’s firefighters (structural) go deeper and get in hotter places then they should be because they feel untouchable. Likewise a new and improved shelter (which is probably need) could lead people into less safe and more hazardous areas because they feel better protected than they really are. Just something to think about guys and girls.
To all those on and off the lines, take care and be safe.
Respectfully,â€¨Douglas from NC
Welcome to the site Douglas.