There are over 16,000 injuries per year in the field of Wildland Fire. Being a Wildland firefighter means putting yourself to the test mentally and physically.
You will be subjected to some of the most strenuous and dangerous work conditions known to humankind.
You will need the best equipment to do your tough job right. Anyone that has spent extensive time out on the line knows that having the right equipment can make or break you.
Read on to find out what you should have in your pack and on your person before heading out on the line.
You will have to hike long distances over rough terrain. You will have to do this for 16 hours straight sometimes without a break.
If you don’t have boots that can step up to the task, you will be left behind next time that resource order comes in from overhead. Do yourself a favor and buy some top-of-the-line boots up to NFPA Wildland Fire boot standards.
Some firefighters prefer to have both a “hard pair” and a “soft pair” of boots. Examples of hard boots include Nicks, Whites, and Hawthornes. These are rigid leather boots that take a while to break in.
They are advantageous for operating on steep terrain with poor footing. They are durable and will last a long time as well. They will also protect your feet from injuries and provide added ankle support.
They will however destroy your feet if you attempt to try to take them out on the line without first breaking them in.
In addition, hard boots are less flexible and heavier than soft boots making them a hindrance when it comes to agility.
Soft boots are much more preferable for hiking long distances. Examples of soft boots include Lowa, Danner, Scarpa, and Cabella brands.
Soft boots are hiking and mountaineering style boots that provide you extra comfort and maneuverability at the expense of durability. They have less of a break-in period and are easier on your feet than hard boots.
That said, they don’t provide the same level of support, protection, and durability. It is a good idea to have both pairs in your locker so you will be ready no matter what the fire has to throw at you.
Your boots and your radio are your most important pieces of fire equipment. When fighting a wildfire you need to be able to move and communicate freely. Having a reliable radio is essential to making this happen.
The BK KNG portable radio is the most reliable model that is trusted in the field by all sorts of forestry and Wildland Fire personnel.
When the going gets hot and heavy, you want to make sure that your communications are up to par. You need a solid radio that you can have faith in to get you out of some bad situations.
A radio might save your life, but without one, or with a poor one, you will be out of luck. Don’t settle for an inferior radio in an emergency such as a wildfire.
Tools and Chainsaws
Tools, incendiary devices, and chainsaws are your bread and butter as a Wildland Firefighter. You will chop, dig and burn your way out of a lot of difficult tactical situations.
Get to know hand tools such as Pulaskis, Combis, Rhinos, Hazel Hoes, and Rogue Hoes. Become proficient with incendiary devices such as Drip Torches, Berry Pistols, Huckers, and Fusees.
Learn how to operate, clean, and maintain a chainsaw. You should be able to strip a saw down to its basic components in a few minutes, clean it, and reassemble it.
You will be responsible for sharpening your chain and keeping your saw in working order if you are lucky enough to be given the privilege of operating one at all.
You will need to be able to fell trees with a saw as well as buck and limb them. You should also become proficient in brushing with a saw without throwing your chain.
The more you know about this equipment the better off you will be and the more successful you will be during field operations.
Other Wildland Firefighter Equipment
On your first day on the line, you will be given some standard-issue equipment. You can review the whole list of essential items to fill your line gear right here.
In addition to having basics such as fiber tape and a compass, you can customize some aspects of your PPE. For instance, it is crucial to have a good headlamp that provides you the right amount of lighting you need.
You will spend a significant amount of time on the night shift and you will need a good headlamp to see hazards such as dead trees swaying in the wind.
If your Crewboss does not provide you with a good headlamp, it may be worth buying your own.
In addition to the standard-issue equipment, you should think about some additional personal items. Think about buying some antimicrobial underwear that doesn’t require you to wash it very often.
You will not get to shower often if you even do at all during your 14-day tour. In this same vein, you may want to pack some baby wipes so you can clean yourself off after your level of filth has reached significant proportions.
Make sure to be very weight-conscious about any personal items you take along. That said, bring enough socks and underwear to last you through a 14-day tour.
You will also need enough medication and other essential items such as contact lenses to get you through at least 14 days in the field.
A Tough Job Merits Tough Equipment
Even the easiest day on the fireline is a harder day than most people will ever experience in a lifetime of work. To stand up to the challenge of being a Wildland Firefighter you need gear as exceptionally tough as you are.
Get the best equipment for your crew so they can excel in the field. As far as radios go, nothing is tougher and higher quality than a King. Contact us today for a price quote so you can determine what meets your tactical needs.
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