What Tools Do Firefighters Use?

Firefighters use a variety of tools depending on the type of fire, but they usually include protective clothing and a helmet, an oxygen mask and tank, a powerful flashlight, an axe and a pry tool. This is in addition to the hoses needed to bring water to the fire.

In addition to a fire axe, many firefighters carry a Halligan tool. This is a specialized crowbar with a forked prybar at one end and a sharp adze point and pick at the other. The Halligan tool is designed to allow firefighters to get through closed doors quickly and easily by prying the door away from the frame or destroying the lock. The axe and Halligan together are sometimes referred to as a set of irons.

Another valuable firefighting tool is a thermal imaging camera. These devices show differences in temperature, and can be useful for finding hotspots and sources as well as detecting unconscious victims in smoke-filled rooms.

The protective clothing firefighters use is called bunker or turnout gear, and consists of fire-resistant Nomex or Kevlar, filled with insulating materials and waterproof layers. Waterproofing can be extremely important, since water that soaks into firefighting gear may flash into steam in the presence of a powerful fire, causing serious burns. A full suit of turnout gear plus a respirator costs more than $9,000, and must be replaced at least once every 10 years.