Firefighters are kind of like superheroes: they can see even in thick black smoke; walk through fire; punch down concrete walls; and lift heavy beams to get at the people trapped underneath. But they couldn’t do it without fire equipment specially designed for fire fighting and rescue. Here are a few pieces of fire fighting equipment that all firefighters rely on.
Axes. One of the most crucial pieces of fire rescue equipment is the fireman’s axe. These axes are designed for cutting down doors rather than chopping wood; they’re heavily weighted, with a pointed poll—the part of the axe head on the other side of the cutting edge. Firemen’s axes are usually produced in bright colours to make them easy to see in dark, smoke-filled buildings.
Firefighters battling forest fires have another piece of fire rescue equipment in their utility belt: an axe with a mattock blade, or a broad, chisel-like blade designed for chopping up hard-packed ground, on the opposite side of the cutting end. It’s designed to cut ground, and it’s indispensable in outdoor firefighting. It’s often used as a means to clear brush to make a fire shield, or area where fire cannot cross because all the burnable fuel has been removed.
Hydraulic Tools. Hydraulic tools are fire rescue equipment that give firefighters the ability to pop open smashed and locked car doors, lift extremely heavy loads, punch through walls, and cut through steel in minutes. Most of these tools come in the form of spreaders, designed to open tightly sealed cracks in walls and doors; cutters, often used to break open crashed cars in emergencies; lifters, designed to raise heavy objects such as fallen roof beams or automobiles; and rams, used to break down doors and walls. These tools are powered by hydraulic motors that can be automatic, manually operated, or built directly into the tool itself. Many hydraulic tools are compact and portable, easy to carry in an emergency situation.
Flashlights. Flashlights are a piece of firefighting equipment that no member of the fire brigade would go without. But these are not your ordinary flashlights. A firefighter’s torch needs to be able to stand up to extremely high temperatures without breaking. They also need to have an exceptionally strong beam that can provide visibility even through thick smoke, water spray, and dust. They also use batteries designed to work even in extremely hot temperatures, and are designed to resist damage from water and harsh chemicals.
As a result, firefighters’ flashlights are not made from your typical plastics. A common material is xenoy, a thermoplastic blend of polycarbonate and polybutylene terphthalate producing an extremely durable material that’s practically unbreakable and highly resistant to chemical corrosion. The lens is also made of clear polycarbonate, with a xenon lamp or powerful halogen lantern inside.
Fire rescue equipment allows firefighters to do things that ordinary people couldn’t do. With these critical pieces of fire fighting equipment, firefighters have exceptional eyesight, superhuman strength, and the ability to break in any door or wall—all in the service of saving lives.