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What Are the Different Types of Firefighter Tools?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Firefighters can make use of a wide variety of different tools and equipment in the process of putting out fires, providing emergency services, and carrying out their other duties. The different types of firefighter tools and equipment can be grouped into general categories such as personal protective equipment (PPE), hand tools, various types of electronics, and of course the pump trucks, ladder trucks, fire hoses, and other gear necessary for fighting fires. Firefighter equipment designed to increase the safety of each individual firefighter includes bunker gear, face masks, and breathing apparatuses. Some common hand tools include various types of axes to break through walls, hydraulic cutters to rescue people from vehicles, flashlights to see in dark buildings, and other similar gear. Common electronic firefighter tools include thermal imaging cameras, two-way radios, and various types of emergency medical services equipment.

Since firefighters are trained to rescue people from a variety of circumstances, fight fires, and provide various emergency services, they can require a wide range of different tools. One of the more common firefighter hand tools is the pick-head axe, though flat-head axes are also common. These tools are be used to break through windows and doors, or to open up walls in burning buildings. Pike poles are another type of hand tool used to break through walls and ceilings, and halligan bars are typically used to access locked buildings or rooms. Hydraulic cutters, spreaders, and rams are firefighter tools that are used to rescue people from wrecked vehicles and other dangerous situations.

Some of the most common firefighter tools are the items that are necessary for actually fighting fires. These tools include portable extinguishers, fire hoses and other similar gear. Firefighters typically also have a variety of different adapters and other plumbing equipment that may be used to attach hoses to standpipes and other on-site water sources. A tool known as a water thief is used to split one water line out into several independent smaller ones.

Many firefighter tools are electronic, including communication and monitoring devices. Firefighters typically carry two-way radios to maintain communication, and face masks often have built-in radios as well. Another high-tech tool sometimes used by firefighters is a thermal imaging camera, which can detect fires through walls or smoke. These cameras may also be used to locate people who are in need of rescue, since their heat signatures will tend to be different than the surrounding area. Firefighters commonly use medical devices, including heart monitors, defibrillators, and other electronics when providing emergency services.

Another important type of firefighter gear is collectively known as personal protective equipment. Structural turnouts, or bunker gear, includes items such as flame-resistant hoods, insulated jackets and trousers, helmets, face masks and other protective items. This equipment is typically resistant to both high temperatures and water. Another tool that falls into this category is the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which can allow a firefighter to breath inside a smoke-filled building.

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