November 26, 2016

Fire Equipment Math

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September 26, 2016

Fifteen Essential Items For Your First Aid Kit

Fifteen Essential Items For Your First Aid Kit

By: Glenn L. Hamm, II


Here is the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF)

Rule # 1. A first aid kit is an essential item that everyone should own and know how to use.  I must re-emphasize that this is 2 part equation. As the saying goes, knowing is HALF the battle.  The whole picture looks more like this: You MUST have it and You MUST know how to use it.   Simply the kit is no good without the knowledge and the knowledge is no good without the proper equipment.  If you are missing either of the two you are setting yourself up for failure and you could do more harm than good. Always follow the manufacture's instructions.  

Rule # 2. Don't buy junk. 

Now, with that out of the way, there are many options to consider when building or buying a first aid kit.  Without a doubt you can go out and buy the Mac Daddy of all first aid kits.   While this is a great option for Doctors, Nurses, EMTs, Firefighters, and other front line medical providers the advanced first aid kit is designed for those who are trained how to use it, it is generally not the place to start your journey.   In fact, a lot can be done with a basic first aid kit that is filled with the RIGHT equipment.     

There are 15 basic items that anyone, regardless of training and experience should have in their bags.  These are the go to items that solve 95% of the medical emergencies that you will encounter and require only simple first aid knowledge to use.   Below we will take a look at each of these items and practical application of them.

 First Aid Kit Essentials


  1. Nitrile Gloves - First things first, YOUR safety and YOUR protection is #1. In the medical field we ensure that we take "Universal Precautions"  when it comes to being exposed to blood and body fluids.  Let's face it, if you have a need for a First Aid KIt there is a good chance that there will be blood, body fluids, or both.  So, there is a potential that the blood and fluids that you will encounter may contain diseases that can be transmitted to the responder though open cuts, the eyes and mucus membranes.  As an emergency responder, we take the "universal precaution" that whoever you are treating has a disease, virus, bacteria or other blood pathogen floating around in their blood stream and we protect ourselves from it.  Remember, if it is wet, sticky and not yours, you do not want it on you!  Most commonly we protect ourselves with nitirile gloves. Although, when the situation calls for it, we use safety glasses, masks and gowns to increase the level of protection as necessary.  In sum, nitrile gloves are a vital piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as they create a barrier that the victims blood and fluids can not pass through and keeps it out of any cuts, scrapes or other wounds we may have on our hands.   It also helps to protect the victim as it ensures that we, the responders, don't contaminate a wound with any dirt or germs that are on our hands.  
  2. ABD Pads - An ABD pad generally measures 5"x9" and is my pad of choice when trying to stop a fair amount of bleeding that can be controlled with direct pressure.  Simply, open up the package, place the ABD pad in a gloved hand and apply it directly to the bleeding site.   
  3. 4X4 Gauze - These are great for scrapes and cuts.  Again, they generally start out as a direct pressure device. The woven fabric does a great job  giving the blood something to clot to as well.   Additionally 4x4 gauze can be wettened and used on burns or  used to clean up a scrape.  Keep it dry and use it as an eye patch.  There are a lot of uses that you will learn for this key item.  
  4. 2x2 Gauze - Just like the 4x4 but half the size.   This item is great for minor cuts to the fingers as well.
  5. 2" Roll Gauze - Roll gauze is most often used to secure a bandage in place and hold pressure on a cut.  However, it can also be used to help make a splint when out in the woods.  
  6. Butterfly Bandages - Like a stitch, but easier.  Butterfly bandages are strips of sticky fabric that are used to bind the skin back together on lacerations.   In the past two decades, butterfly bandages have become more and more common in the field and in the clinical setting.    They are not as strong as good old fashion stitches and are generally used in situations where a wound is not deep enough or long enough to warrant stitches.  
  7. BZK Antiseptic Wipes - Benzalkonium wipes, AKA BZK Wipes, are alcohol free and cleanse without stinging that is generally associated with alcohol.
  8. Alcohol Prep Pads - Alcohol Prep Pads are the long standing go-to item for cleaning and disenfecting an area.  Unlinke the BZK wipes, they will produce a stinging sensation for the patient when introduced to an open wound. 
  9. Iodine Prep Pads - These are pads that have been soaked in a 10% providone-iodine solution.   Iodine prep pads are often used as an antiseptic to help prevent infection in minor cuts and scrapes. 
  10. Triple Antibiotic Ointment  - This is the generic term for the frequently referred to brand name "Neosporin."  Triple antibiotc ointment is a petrolium jelly based substance that Bacitracin, Neomycin Sulfate and Polmyxin-B Sulfate as its active ingredients.  This substance is placed onto minor cuts and wounds to prevent infection and is then normally covered with an adhesive bandage. 
  11. Water-Jel Burn Dressing - Every 25 seconds, someone is burned or scalded in their home. Are you prepared?  Having this in your kit puts you well on your way.   The soothing, water-based gel helps prevent infection and relieve pain due to minor cuts, scrapes and burns.  The Water-Jel brand contains an antibiotic, Benzalkonium Chloride (Remeber the BZK wipes?), and Lidocaine, which is a topical numbing agent.  
  12. Hydrocortizone Cream - Got an itch? Hydrocortizone cream is a mild corticosteroid that temporarily relieves the itching associated with minor skin irritation (e.g. insect bites, poison ivy/oak, eczema, dermatitis, allergies, rash, itching of the outer female genitals, anal itching). Hydrocortisone reduces the swelling, itching, and redness that can occur in these types of conditions. 
  13. Adhesive Bandages- Commonly referred to by the commercial name, "Band-Aid."  Adhesive Bandages help protect wounds as they heal by keeping them clean and held together. They are offered in a variety of shapes, styles, sizes and brands.  However the 1" X 3" adhesive bandages are the most common.   Adhesive bandages have highly absorbent, non-stick pad cushions and protects cuts and scrapes without sticking to them. Both the sheer plastic and fabric bandages conform to body for maximum protection. Look for brands that are not made with natural rubber latex.
  14. Medical Tape - It is critical that Don't buy junk.   The best tape is durable but easy to tear off the roll with a gloved hand. This kit contains 3M Transpore Surgical Tape, which is often the favorite of medical professionals. This tape is Perforated for easy tearing and porous for greater breathability. Transpore conforms and stretches to accommodate body movement. Because it's clear, it allows regular monitoring of dressings and is alos Latex-free.
  15. CPR Barrier Device - Remember the universal precautions that we discussed regarding blood and body fluid?   Well, unless you want to learn what the victim last had to eat in the most unpleasant of ways, use a barrier device with a one way valve.  In fact, if you don't have this essential device, it is recommended that you do compression only CPR.   Nothing beats a Bag Valve Mask, if you are trained to use it and have the room in your bag.  However, for a simple and compact first aid kit, a micro pocket mask effectively prevents mouth-to-mouth contact during CPR. The lightweight face conforming mask features a one-way valve which eliminates "blowback."   

Now that you have built or purchased your basic first aid kit, its time to start adding more pieces.   As I noted earlier, the list can seem pretty endless, however, my next suggestion would be adding a set of Trauma Shears to supplement your kit.   From there, I would advise getting more advanced training and the buying a bigger bag to fit all of the new toys -er equipment that you have learned how to use.  

 About the author:  Glenn L. Hamm, II has served in the Emergency Services since 2003. Hamm currently serves as as Department Chief for a Special Operations Technical Rescue Team,  EMS Director for a BLS Ambulance and Rescue service and serves instructor on the State and National levels.   He is also the owner of Poseidon Supplies and Equipment.


February 13, 2016

Firefighting History: From Water Buckets to Hydrants and The Modern Fire Hose

Modern day advances provide many tools that have contributed to the success in fighting fires. For example, the fire hydrant allows firefighters access to a water source in close proximity to the fire. However, it is easy to take such tools for granted.

Prior to the creation of the fire hydrant, firefighters used a bucket brigade and/or hand pumping system. Picture in your mind a fire that took place during Colonial Times and you’ll likely envision bucket brigades. In fact, individual homeowners were required to keep special leather buckets on hand so they could help to transport water from a nearby well or lake to the scene of the fire by volunteers.  As time went on, municipal water systems were developed. However, by today's standard, they were archaic.  These early systems were made of wooden pipe and did not have fire hydrants.  In order to gain access to a great amount of water, firefighters had to dig a hole into the water main. Once they no longer needed water, “fire plugs” were created in order to close the hole.  Interestingly the term, "catch the plug" comes from firefighters going back to existing plugs from previous fires and removing them for faster access to water.  Ultimately, these slow and inefficient systems did not suffice for extinguishing fires of great size and along came the Fire Hydrant and Fire Hose. 

Credit for the first fire hydrant in 1801 goes to Frederick Graff Sr., a fire engineer from Philadelphia. Although, the patent for his creation of the fire hydrant is not verified due to a fire that occurred in the patent office where all destroyed records. As a result, according to some sources, George Smith, a fireman, is given credit for creating the first fire hydrant in 1817.It is easy to take such tools for granted.

Fire hoses have a similar history and like the water supply, fire hose designs improved over time.  Originally the fire hoses, much like the first fire buckets, were made of sewn leather.  As new materials and manufacturing methods were developed, the leather hoses were replaced with rubber hoses. Eventually even these were replaced with more durable synthetic fibers that were lighter and more flexible. But firefighters soon learned that they could be much more effective if they could move greater volumes of water, so larger hoses were developed. Early hoses were 2 ½ inches in diameter, and they were expected to flow 250 gallons of water per minute. By comparison, today’s hoses are often 5 inches in diameter and can easily deliver more than 1,500 gallons of water per minute. And because the newer hoses are made with lightweight materials, they are no heavier than their predecessors.

We have certainly come a long way since the early bucket brigades.  However the passion to serve our fellow man is something that has remained strong in firefighters throughout the ages.

For the latest in Fire and Rescue Equipment, visit: 

October 07, 2014

Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives

Fire Prevention is a longstanding tradition in North America. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation. Then, in 1922, National Fire Prevention Day was officially extended to become Fire Prevention Week. Today, this event continues to be observed on the Sunday through Saturday period covering October 9th to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire.

This year Fire Prevention Week will take place on October 5-11, and encourages more frequent smoke alarm testing. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 96 percent of all homes have at least one smoke alarm, but fires where there was no working smoke alarm present account for a combined 60 percent of all fire deaths.

To help keep the public safe, the NFPA has developed resources for those in fire service, teachers, and families alike. Additionally, the NFPA is also encouraging individuals to take the “Smoke Alarm Pledge.” Those who accept the pledge promise that they will test their smoke alarms each month.

For more information, visit the official Fire Prevention Week website.

September 05, 2014

Issues and Challenges in Today’s Fire Service

Firefighter Training Topics – Issues and Challenges in Today’s Fire Service
Chief (Ret.) Rick Lasky, Lewisville (TX) Fire Department, Battalion Chief (Ret.) John Salka, Fire Department of New York, and Chief (Ret.) Bobby Halton,


Discussion Highlights:
The fire service is faced with a vast array of issues and challenges. For 86 years, FDIC has been the place where honest discussions have led to workable solutions to these issues and challenges. This Big Room Session features three of North America’s most outspoken and informed practitioners. Join Rick Lasky, John Salka, and Bobby Halton as they tackle the most critical issues facing the fire service today in a no-holds-barred session. From pike poles to pensions, from VES (vent-enter-search) to VSP (victim survivability profiling), and from staffing to science, join the chiefs as they discuss the biggest issues in frank, open, and straightforward language.


September 01, 2014

Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Fire Engineering Training Digest – PPE Training Guide
This Training Guide should be mandatory reading for every firefighter. The information is of unparalleled importance.

Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment - Article Highlight #3
Self-direction and experience are vital attributes when undertaking the arduous task of selecting the PPE for a major fire department. One must also know what products are available, be familiar with OSHA andNFPA standards. The goal is to buy the best equipment while staying within budget. These guidelines, in principle, can be adapted for smaller departments.
This article highlights “The Selection Process” from start to finish.

About the Author:
Andrew E. Pompe, CFPS, is a captain and 18 1/2-year veteran of the Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department, currently assigned as the deputy safety officer. He is a certified fire protection specialist and a member of the CFPS Board of Directors. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science administration and a master’s degree in safety engineering and lectures on PPE and other safety-related topics.

Fire-Dex is pleased to offer this article published via Fire Engineering free for all in fire service. Click here to download your PPE Training Guide from Fire Engineering sponsored by Fire-Dex.  The learn more about the PPE offered by Fire-Dex, LLC, please visit our website,


August 29, 2014

"The Ham and Eggs Fire"

When the phrase “natural disaster” is brought up, many think of the Great Chicago Fire. However, with over 3,000 casualties, the San Francisco Earthquake remains one of the United States’ worst natural disasters.

On the morning of April 18th, 1906, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 ripped through the city, destroying houses, buildings, and infrastructure alike. San Francisco resident Emma Burke is quoted in Popular Mechanics as saying that the earthquake “made such a roar that no one noise could be distinguished.”


The disaster’s enormous force had damaged the city’s gas lines and caused dozens of fires to break out across the city. The largest, dubbed the “ham and eggs fire” was lit after a local family attempted to cook their breakfast.

During the next three days, the city was ravaged. Damages from the disaster are estimated to have cost over $400 million – roughly $6.2 billion in today’s dollars. The city has since been rebuilt and is now bigger than ever, but the people of California still commemorate the disaster each year, gathering at Lotta’s fountain to honor first responders and promote disaster readiness.

Photo credit: The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

August 28, 2014

The History Of The Fire Helmet

If you could point to one item of clothing that clearly distinguishes the firefighter, it would undoubtedly be the helmet. The firefighter helmet is one of the most iconic symbols of the emergency service profession. Believe it or not, the fire helmet was first introduced in 1739 as a leather hat.  Jacob Turk, a gunsmith who would later become the head of the New York Fire Department, was the man to champion the invention. What you see most firefighters wearing today, however, is a blend of progress and tradition started by a New York luggage maker. 

Almost 100 years later, luggage maker Henry Gratacap would retool the design into something similar to the The iconic design, inspired by jockeys who wore their hats backwards, featured a special durable type of leather, and a design that would protect firefighters from debris. His design is the start of what we now consider the classic shape or "traditional helmet".  These models were designed to have a wide brim that would protect the firefighter from falling debris, water and burning embers. The style took hold, and firefighters everywhere adopted it as their own.

The 20th Century brought with it the invention of new materials, such as aluminum, fiberglass and a wide variety of plastics that could be used to improve the durability of the firefighter helmet. But although new designs were introduced, firefighters resisted the new styles, and they continued to wear the traditional leather head coverings. Helmet manufacturers solved the problem by making helmets using new materials and technologies, but with the traditional shape and decorative features. That included an outer leather covering. The most noticeable improvements are found on the interior headliner and suspension system.  

Today’s firefighter helmets are a blend of the old and the new. They feature the traditional style with a leather look that is crafted using Space Age materials. The materials are OSHA approved, but the design is based on the traditional leather fire helmet. It’s interesting to note that many fire departments tried significantly more modern-looking styles, but most of them returned to the traditional look.

Be sure to check out our selection of fire helmets for sale!