To be a wildland firefighter, you must have a lot of drive. It takes a while to develop the experience and knowledge necessary to fight the fires, but you’ll also develop a rapport with the different firefighting tools. Without those tools, wildland firefighters would struggle greatly to make any headway with these fires. If you want to be a firefighter, there’s a lot you need to know about common firefighter tools. But once you know what you’re doing, you’ll be out in the field stopping fires in no time.
One category of tools that wildland firefighters will carry with them into the field is hand tools. Firefighters use many bigger tools to suppress fires, but there are also some smaller ones they need to have on hand when necessary. These hand tools have the name because they are exactly that—tools small enough to fit into your pockets and hands. Even though they’re small, they still have a lot of functionality and use in the field.
A pocket tool is one of the best things a firefighter can have on them when out in the field. Wildland firefighters have bigger pieces of equipment, such as chain saws, when out in the field, but sometimes, that equipment can fail or break. Something like that happening can be disastrous, but with these pocket tools, firefighters can quickly get to work repairing their equipment and getting it back to work in no time. The best pocket tools will conveniently contain a lot of tools in one, tools such as:
- Reversible sockets
- Hex ball drive
- Bar groove
These tools are great for quick repairs but are also great tools to have when you’re away from fires. It always seems like you need to repair something when you don’t have your tools. Having this pocket tool nearby at all times will ensure that you can get critical repairs done as soon as you spot an issue.
Another important hand tool that many firefighters will have on them when out in the field is a signal mirror. Why would a firefighter need a mirror? In many instances of a wildland fire, there will be firefighters on the ground, and they’ll coordinate with different aircraft to drop fire retardant where the fire is and where it’s going.
It can be difficult to spot the firefighters on the ground, even when they’re wearing high-visibility gear. Thankfully, a signal mirror makes them easier to spot. Many signal mirrors will even come with built-in precision systems that help with aiming and reflecting light back to the aircraft. The mirrors are also good for signaling other wildland firefighters in the field.
A pocket saw is another hand tool many wildland firefighters will keep on their persons before going out into the field. Firefighters will bring chain saws to help clear out major debris and fallen trees, but there are also times when a small pocket saw may come in handy. These pocket saws come in various shapes and sizes, and you can easily use them to prune trees or cut dry wood.
Another common tool that firefighters need to have on their persons is flashlights. Even though the fire is incredibly bright, depending on your location, you could still suffer some visibility issues. Many wildland firefighters will have helmet lights to light up where they’re going, but a personal flashlight is another great option to help with visibility in these scary situations.
In addition to hand tools, wildland firefighters will also have various line tools to remove fuel for the fire. Wildfires can spread because nothing is suffocating the flames, and there is a ready supply of fuel to burn, such as grass and brush. Firefighters will use these line tools to dig up this grass and brush to remove it and prevent the fire from expanding in that direction.
Unfortunately, no two wildland areas are ever going to be the same. Some are denser with vegetation, while others are ridden with roots embedded deep into the soil. Each situation is different, but wildland firefighters have different line tools to remove as much fuel for the fire as possible. Some specific tools that they’ll use are:
- Pulaski wildfire axes
- Combi tools
Each tool is different and has different advantages over the other tools that a firefighter might use in the line of duty. Some are better for digging up roots, like the combi tool or hoes, while you can use others, like rakes and scrapers, that pick up loose leaves.
Chain saws are one of the bigger tools wildland firefighters need to have when going out in the field. Hand tools are good for dealing with smaller obstructions, while line tools can help get rid of fuel for the fire. But chain saws are necessary to clear bigger obstructions and sources of fuel in fire lines. While smaller tools like the Pulaski wildfire axes and Combi tools can take care of branches and deep-rooted plants, fallen trees are another story. Chain saws can be large and hard to manage, but they are an essential item specifically trained wildland firefighters bring to the fire scene.
While wildland firefighters will need ready access to many of these different line tools, they can be cumbersome to carry. Each is a relatively different size, making it difficult to carry multiple at once, and it’s even trickier when you throw a chain saw into the mix. Many wildland firefighters will also have tool bags to put all their essential tools into.
You’ll need a lot of equipment to fight fires, and these tool bags keep everything in an accessible space that is also easy to transport. The bags will be heavy, but it’s much easier when compared to trying to juggle everything at once in your hands.
When you want to become a wildland firefighter, you’ll need to know a lot about some common firefighter tools since they’ll dramatically help you out in the field. Being a firefighter is tough, but it can be outright impossible if you don’t have the right tools and equipment. At The Supply Cache, we want you prepared when you get out there, so come to us for all your wildland firefighter hand tool needs. Our tools are high quality and effective at suppressing fires and keeping you safe!