Sure, Volunteer Firefighters are prepared for a lot of things since they typically leave at a moment’s notice. But when you are away from the station and the station vehicles, what you have in your own vehicle is incredibly important.
Rolling up first on scene in your private vehicle without the tools or equipment you need can leave you feeling helpless and alittle guilty that you aren’t able to do more, despite being the faster one to the scene. (and if you aren’t a volunteer yet- what’s stopping you?)
Here are 15 things every prepared Volunteer Firefighter should have in their vehicle. While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good start to what could be a very successful call if you only have the tools on hand!
Not interested in what you need in your vehicle? Check out these instagram accounts every Volunteer Firefighter should be following.
Why Volunteer Firefighters are important
Without volunteer firefighters, many smaller communities would be too far from stations– because every minute matters in a critical emergency.
Volunteers are sometimes the only responders, but most of the times, they are the buffer that secures the scene and calls in the requests for certain types of back up.
Because they are often the first boots on the ground, they are the ones that shave off minutes from a life and death situation. We simply cannot understate the value of a properly trained and equipped volunteer when there is an emergency and the larger crews are 20-30 minutes from the scene.
Upwards of 70% of our firefighter force in the US is volunteer and that number may grow with the push to dismantle and abandoned already manned stations.
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15 Things Volunteer Firefighters Need
- They’ve got to have a Multi tool, and it should really be on their person at all times as part of their every day carry.
2. up next every Volunteer Fireman should have Water in their vehicle. Not necessarily for fires, but more importantly for medical calls and off the wall emergencies where clean water is of utmost importance.
3. a no brainer, Fire extinguishers should be something every Volley keeps in their vehicle.
4. More of a specialized tool (but also on some multi tools and quality knives) are items like a Window breaker/safety knife/rescue tool for cutting people out of seatbelts and anywhere they’ve accidentally gotten stuck.
5. Gloves, both extrication gloves for getting people out of their vehicles, and medical gloves necessary for keeping you clean when on a medical call.
6. Trauma sheers are another must have, and the top one there goes to the leatherman raptor shears. These bad boy shears do all kinds of things both on the job and off. Great for cutting through clothing, seatbelts, and anything else preventing your Firefighter from helping the community, Raptor Shears are in a category of their own!
7. First aid kit in accordance with your permissions at work. At worst you should have a small cheap kit. But ideally you’d have a larger and more versatile kit like this stop the bleed fast trauma pak.
8. flash light’s come in many different shapes and sizes, and there’s three that come highly recommended.
If it’s just an everyday light, I’d grab this inexpensive, yet highly rated, Streamlight hand held light.
If it’s a light you’d want to use with your bunker gear, You’d want this Streamlight flashlight that can be attached to bunker gear and easily used with gloves.
Last, but most recommended (and most pricey) is this Streamlight Helmet Flashlight that attaches to the helmets. Highly recommended because it stays attached (so no fumbling on scene looking for a light) and rated for use with Firefighters.
9. Rope of all kinds is a great addition to a volunteers vehicle. Consider your local terrain and decide what type and length would be best for your environment. (tow straps and a wench tool would be good additions too)
10. Portable cell phone charger could mean the difference between life and death (unless you’ve got a radio!)
11. It just might save your life, so include a Reflective traffic vest in your kit. Useful for traffic, but also a must have should you need to venture off into the dark in a secluded area. The vest and flashlight could help other first responders locate you.
12. Absolutely essential in colder climates are Emergency blankets. These come in a variety of styles, but they are also pretty small so you can stock up on several.
13. Another thing you should always have on hand, both for you, your crew and maybe even the people you’ve come to help, are meal replacement bars or protein bars.
14. If you have the space for these items, the “married pair”, i.e. the halligan and flathead ax, would be a great item to have for when you’ve got to go all out before the other equipment arrives.
15. Last but not least, Identification, especially copies of your agreement with the local station, should always be on hand in your vehicle.
Should you carry your Bunker Gear in your Vehicle?
A valid question seeing that running to the station before heading to a Fire could put you at a significant time disadvantage.
If you are curious about why many people don’t suggest carrying gear in your vehicle, learn more about the risk that gear has for Firefighters.
What are some other things Volunteer Firefighters have carried in their vehicle?
Each situation is going to be different, especially since you know your town better than I do.
While Fire Trucks and EMS carry all sorts of equipment, there are things that you can have in your vehicle, that seem like ordinary objects, but in an emergency can be very helpful!
Some things that have been helpful include items like, boots, extra clothing, stuffed animals for children, collars and leashes for animals, a camera/gopro for recording instances where nothing can be done further as proof that the situation was out of control, paper and pen for taking notes, flares, pop up traffic cones, baby diapers, spray paint and super glue.
Duct tape was also mentioned several times, but I know the public likes to read these lists, so I saved it for last!
Hopefully this list helps as a starting point for items every volunteer firefighter should be able to carry in their vehicle, not only for life saving purposes, but tax saving purposes as well! This list was made in collaboration with several volunteer firefighters on my email list who gave me such helpful information- thank you!