13 common firefighting equipment and how they are selected?

When selecting firefighting equipment, several factors must be considered, including the type of fire, the potential hazards present at the site, and the capabilities of the firefighters who will be using the equipment.

It’s important to choose equipment that is appropriate for the specific situation and that can be used safely and effectively by the firefighters on the scene. Some common types of firefighting equipment include fire hoses, fire extinguishers, ladders, and various tools for ventilation and rescue.

Before digging deep into the selection criteria, let me first make you familiar with some common firefighting equipment

1- Fire hose

A fire hose is a flexible, high-pressure hose used to deliver water or other fire suppression agents to a fire. It is an essential piece of firefighting equipment, as it allows firefighters to quickly and efficiently put out fires.

Fire hoses are typically made of durable, water-resistant materials such as rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and are equipped with fittings and couplings that allow them to be easily connected to other firefighting equipment, such as fire hydrants and fire pumps. Fire hoses come in various sizes and lengths, and are typically labeled with their maximum operating pressure and flow rate.

2- Fire extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are portable firefighting equipment that is used to suppress or control small fires in an emergency situation. They typically use a combination of chemicals or pressurized water or gas to extinguish the fire. Fire extinguishers are commonly found in buildings and vehicles, and are often required by law to be present in certain locations.

3- Fire truck

The fire truck is a crucial piece of firefighting equipment that is used to transport firefighters and their equipment to the scene of a fire. It carries a large water tank, hoses, ladders, and other tools that are necessary for extinguishing fires and rescuing people. The fire truck is also equipped with a powerful pump that can deliver large volumes of water to the fire, allowing firefighters to quickly and effectively put out the flames. In addition, the fire truck may be equipped with specialized equipment such as thermal imaging cameras and search and rescue tools. Overall, the fire truck is an essential tool for firefighters to quickly and effectively respond to and extinguish fires.

4- Fire axe

A fire axe is an essential tool for firefighters as it is used for various tasks during a firefighting operation. Some of the key roles of a fire axe in firefighting equipment include:

  • Breaking through doors and windows to access a fire and rescue trapped individuals
  • Creating ventilation holes in the roof or walls to allow heat and smoke to escape
  • Dismantling objects and structures that are blocking escape routes or hindering firefighting efforts
  • Removing debris and rubble to create a clear pathway for firefighters and evacuees
  • Providing a tool for firefighters to pry open locked doors or other objects.

5- Fire helmet

The fire helmet plays a crucial role in firefighting equipment as it provides protection for the firefighter’s head and face from heat, flames, and debris. It also serves as a visual identification for the firefighter and can be used to attach other equipment, such as flashlights and radios. The fire helmet also has reflective striping to make the firefighter more visible in low light conditions.

6- Thermal imaging camera

Thermal imaging cameras are an important tool for firefighting equipment. They allow firefighters to see through smoke and darkness, allowing them to locate the source of a fire and determine the best course of action.

Thermal imaging cameras can also help firefighters detect hot spots or areas where the fire is spreading, allowing them to focus their efforts on these areas and prevent the fire from spreading further.

In addition, thermal imaging cameras can help firefighters locate people or animals that may be trapped in a building, allowing them to rescue them quickly and safely.

Overall, thermal imaging cameras are an essential tool for firefighting equipment, as they provide critical information that helps firefighters respond to fires more effectively and safely.

7- Fire protective clothing

Fire protective clothing is a crucial part of firefighting equipment as it provides essential protection for firefighters when they are working in hazardous conditions. The clothing is designed to withstand extreme heat and flames, as well as provide protection from other hazards such as falling debris and toxic fumes.

It is typically made from materials that are highly fire-resistant and able to withstand intense heat for extended periods of time. The clothing also typically includes features such as reflective strips and reflective tape to help firefighters remain visible in low light conditions. Overall, fire protective clothing is an essential part of a firefighter’s protective gear and helps to keep them safe while they are performing their duties.

8- Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)

A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is a critical piece of firefighting equipment that provides firefighters with a reliable air supply while they are working in a hazardous environment. The SCBA is a wearable device that allows firefighters to breathe in clean air while they are in an atmosphere that is contaminated by smoke, fumes, or other toxic gases.

The SCBA is typically worn on the firefighter’s back, and it consists of a breathing tank, a regulator, and a facepiece or mask. The breathing tank is filled with compressed air or oxygen, and the regulator controls the flow of air to the facepiece or mask. The facepiece or mask is designed to seal around the face, providing a secure and comfortable fit.

The SCBA is essential for protecting firefighters from the harmful effects of inhaling smoke and other toxic gases. When a firefighter is working in a fire or other hazardous environment, the SCBA provides them with a safe and reliable air supply, allowing them to breathe easily and comfortably. This ensures that firefighters can continue to work effectively and efficiently, even in the most challenging conditions.

The SCBA also helps to protect firefighters from the physical effects of heat and other environmental hazards. The air supplied by the SCBA is cool and clean, which helps to keep the firefighter’s body temperature down and prevent heat exhaustion or other heat-related illnesses.

In summary, the SCBA is an essential piece of firefighting equipment that provides firefighters with a reliable air supply, protects them from inhaling toxic gases, and helps to keep them safe and comfortable while they are working in a hazardous environment.

9- Fire ladder

A fire ladder is a crucial piece of firefighting equipment that is used to access upper floors or rooftops of a building during a fire. It allows firefighters to quickly and safely reach areas that may be inaccessible by other means, such as stairs or elevators. The fire ladder can also be used to evacuate people from a burning building. It is typically mounted on a fire truck and can be extended to reach various heights. In addition to providing access to upper floors, the fire ladder can also be used to provide a safe escape route for people trapped inside a burning building.

10- Fire nozzle

The role of a fire nozzle in firefighting equipment is to provide a controlled and directed stream of water or other firefighting agent to the fire. The nozzle allows the firefighter to adjust the flow and pattern of the water, providing greater control and effectiveness in extinguishing the fire. Additionally, the nozzle can be fitted with various attachments, such as fog nozzles or jet nozzles, to suit different firefighting situations.

11- Firefighting gloves

Firefighting gloves play a critical role in firefighting equipment as they provide protection for the firefighter’s hands from heat, flames, and debris. They are made of materials that are resistant to heat and fire, such as leather or Nomex, and have reinforced palms and fingers for added durability.

Firefighting gloves also help firefighters maintain a strong grip on tools and equipment, such as axes, hoses, and ladders, which is essential for completing tasks in a firefighting situation. They also provide insulation from the cold, as firefighters often work in cold environments and need to keep their hands warm to maintain dexterity and prevent injury.

Overall, firefighting gloves are a vital component of firefighting equipment as they protect the hands and fingers of firefighters, which are essential for completing tasks in a firefighting situation.

12- Fire hydrant wrench

The hydrant wrench is a tool used by firefighters to open and close the valves on a fire hydrant. It is an essential piece of equipment for firefighters to quickly access and control the flow of water from the hydrant to the fire hose. The hydrant wrench allows firefighters to quickly and efficiently connect the fire hose to the hydrant and start fighting the fire.

13- First aid kit and emergency medical equipment

The role of first aid kits and emergency medical equipment in firefighting equipment is to provide immediate care and treatment to firefighters who may be injured or suffer from smoke inhalation or other medical emergencies during a fire. This can include items such as bandages, wound dressings, oxygen tanks, and other emergency medical supplies. These items are essential for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of firefighters and can help prevent further injuries or complications from occurring.

Additionally, having emergency medical equipment on hand can help firefighters to provide first aid and medical care to civilians who may be injured or in need of assistance during a fire.

Now that you know the most common firefighting equipment. The next thing you will be curious to know about is when to use them. Here, I will introduce you to some selection methods that will assist you in decision-making about the selection of firefighting equipment.Top of Form

Selection of firefighting equipment based on the type of fire

There are basically 5 types of fires and below is the list of equipment that you should use in case of a specific type of fire.

  • For a Class A fire (wood, paper, cardboard, plastic, rubber), a water hose and fire extinguisher are typically used.
  • For a Class B fire (flammable liquids and gases), a foam extinguisher or dry chemical extinguisher is recommended.
  • For a Class C fire (electrical equipment), a carbon dioxide extinguisher or dry chemical extinguisher is recommended.
  • For a Class D fire (combustible metals), a specialized dry powder extinguisher is recommended.
  • For a Class K fire (cooking oils and greases), a wet chemical extinguisher is recommended.

Selection of firefighting equipment based on the potential hazards present at the site

The potential hazard at the site or the type of site will also affect the selection of firefighting equipment. The list below shows, which equipment to use in different potential hazards available at fire location

  • Fire extinguishers: For small fires that can be quickly controlled.
  • Hoses and nozzles: For larger fires that require a steady stream of water.
  • Ladder trucks: For reaching upper floors or areas that are inaccessible by ground level.
  • Thermal imaging cameras: For detecting hot spots or hidden fires.
  • Gas masks: For protecting firefighters from toxic fumes or smoke.
  • Hazmat suits: For protection against hazardous materials such as chemicals or radioactive materials.
  • Hydraulic rescue tools: For cutting through debris or extricating trapped individuals.
  • Foam suppression systems: For extinguishing fires involving flammable liquids.
  • Ventilation fans: For clearing out smoke and toxic fumes.
  • Command vehicles: For coordinating and directing firefighting efforts.

Selection of firefighting equipment based on the capabilities of the firefighters who will be using the equipment

The firefighter needs to be capable of using this firefighting equipment.

  • Fire hoses and nozzles – all firefighters should be trained in the use of these basic firefighting tools.
  • Fire extinguishers – each firefighter should be trained in the use of at least one type of fire extinguisher (e.g. CO2, dry chemical, or water) and should carry one with them at all times.
  • Protective gear – all firefighters should be equipped with protective gear, such as fire-resistant suits, helmets, gloves, and boots.
  • Ladder truck – for firefighters who are trained in ladder operations, a ladder truck can be an essential tool for reaching elevated areas and providing access to upper floors.
  • Ventilation equipment – firefighters trained in ventilation techniques can use tools such as power saws and ventilation fans to clear smoke and heat from a burning building.
  • Rescue tools – firefighters trained in rescue operations should be equipped with tools such as rescue ropes, harnesses, and pulleys for safely extracting trapped individuals from a burning building.
  • Thermal imaging cameras – these tools can help firefighters locate individuals and hot spots within a burning building, providing critical information for rescue and firefighting operations.
  • Communication equipment – firefighters should be equipped with radios and other communication devices to stay in touch with each other and with command staff during firefighting operations.

Top 10 selection methods of firefighting equipment based on their capabilities and limitations

The following table shows the capabilities and limitations of various firefighting equipment. This will also make your decision-making process of when to use which equipment.

Selection MethodCapabilitiesLimitationsExamples
Portable extinguishersEasy to use, can be carried by one personLimited capacity, only effective on small firesABC dry chemical extinguisher
Hose linesHigh capacity, can be used to control large firesRequires a water source, limited range1.75-inch hose line
AxesCan be used to breach walls and windowsLimited effectiveness on larger firesHalligan tool
VentilationCan improve airflow and visibility in a buildingLimited effectiveness on larger firesPowered roof ventilator
Standpipe systemsCan provide a reliable water supply to the upper floors of a buildingRequires installation in the building, can be difficult to useStandpipe and hose system
Foam agentsCan suppress flammable liquid firesLimited effectiveness on other types of firesAFFF foam
Smoke ejectorsCan remove smoke from a building, improving visibility and air qualityLimited range, requires a power sourceSmoke ejector fan
Thermal imaging camerasCan identify hot spots and people in smoke-filled environmentsLimited range, requires a power sourceFLIR camera
Escape belts and harnessesCan assist firefighters in safely exiting a buildingRequires training and proper useEscape belt and harness system
Extinguishing agentsCan be used to put out specific types of firesMay not be effective on certain types of firesWater, foam, dry chemical, CO2
VentilationCan remove heat and smoke from the area, improving visibility and making it easier to locate the fireMay not be effective in certain conditions, such as high windsFans, exhaust systems
Fireproof clothingCan protect firefighters from heat and flamesMay be bulky and restrict movementNomex, PBI
Breathing apparatusCan provide clean air to firefighters in smoke-filled environmentsMay be heavy and cumbersome to wearSCBA, PAPR
LaddersCan provide access to upper floors or windows for rescue or firefighting purposesMay not be long enough for certain situations, such as high-rise buildingsExtension ladders, roof ladders
Firefighting vehiclesCan quickly transport firefighters and equipment to the scene of a fireMay not be able to access certain areas, such as narrow streets or rough terrainEngines, ladder trucks, brush trucks
Fire suppression systemsCan quickly suppress fires in specific areas or compartmentsMay not be effective on certain types of fires or in certain conditionsHalon, FM-200
Top 10 selection methods of firefighting equipment based on their capabilities and limitations

With all the knowledge presented above about some common firefighting equipment and the assistance provided in how to select them, you will now be feeling confident in firefighting equipment selection.

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