Letter - Better equipment for firefighters but a lack of trust

Michael Jones could be right (Express Letter Dec 12) about dangers to firefighters.

Monday, 30th December 2013, 8:47 am

When I joined the Fire Brigade in 1975, we were taught how to move in a darkened atmosphere be it smoke or lack of light, by shuffling and not moving the rear foot until we are satisfied the front is down securely.

During my time as operational firefighter, I and others would often groan and comment as to how we going to put the fire out would as the stopping of certain practices became more prevalent, even with better protective clothing.

During my time as a community safety officer on one occasion we were stopped from using a certain compact multi-purpose ladder because certain staff found it heavy, so we were all given lighter ladders some half as long again making them as hard to handle, proving that the so-called safer option is not always the better one.

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On another occasion we were expected to use an unsafe practice of which there was no policy for the task involved, it took weeks of deliberation and the reluctant involvement of an employee organisation to get it stopped.

It often makes me wonder how myself and my former colleagues have managed to avoid such hazards and live to enjoy our retirement with our personal equipment consisting of steel toe capped wellingtons, plastic over trousers, plastic gloves, black serge style fire tunic which rode up your back when you bent down, a nylon shirt was worn under this, and the traditional old style helmet your exposed ears letting you know when it was too hot.

Thankfully there is better personal equipment but sadly there appears to be lack of trust in a firefighter’s experience and training.

Trevor Wainwright

Lower Oxford Street