Carry while on VFD?


October 16, 2004, 05:49 PM
Well, looong time lurker here. I feel as if I know everyone, but anonymously.:)

Question-- I work on a volunteer fire department in Southern Georgia. I recently took a class on clandestine labs, and was amazed at how prevalent these actually are. This, combined with the number of loonies out there who mistake VFD members with law enforcement, made me want to start carrying while on calls.

Although I know of no law to prevent this (and I have my carry permit), I really don't know if I would want to carry into a burning building, what with very high temperatures and such.

Defintely wouldn't want to carry one of 'dem plastic guns-- they'd melt!:neener:


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October 16, 2004, 06:01 PM
"Defintely wouldn't want to carry one of 'dem plastic guns-- they'd melt!"

If your (concealed) gun is exposed to temps that would make it melt then your body has more problems than just a melting gun.

October 16, 2004, 06:05 PM
the melting temp of polycarbonate plastics is pretty high. The cook off temp for ammo is much lower, but still higher than a human body can sustain.

Which is my cheerful way of saying if your gun melts or goes off, you'll already have bigger problems.

October 16, 2004, 06:19 PM
To me, if there is no law to prevent you from carrying, then why wouldn't you?

It's your right, exercise it.

And by the way...welcome! :D

Mr. Mysterious
October 16, 2004, 06:25 PM
When I was on a VFD there was a guy that carried irregardless of the unwritten rule that guns stayed in cars.

No one ever wanted to go in the beast with the guy with a gun.

October 16, 2004, 06:27 PM
The person you should be asking is your Chief. It's interesting to note that Galls sells body armor in their Fire/EMS catalog as well as their LEO catalog. You might invest in a Kevlar insurance policy whether you can carry or not. A handgun does not project a deflector screen.

As for cook-offs or other issues, if you're gun is that hot, you're probably already fried and on your way to Fireman's Vallhalla.

I'm going to EMT school right now. We have these fake plastic pulse/ox and BGL units in our practise jump kits. I'm thinking of getting a "Red Gun" fake Beretta and stashing it one kit. :evil:

October 16, 2004, 06:30 PM
Ok, the plastic gun comment was a joke. The only plastic gun I have is an airsoft, and I wouldn't be carrying that.

Perhaps I am a little too subtle?

As for the temps, keep in mind I would be in full turnout gear, but that would not preclude temperatures from getting pretty hot, especially if the thermal layer is disturbed (we have bubba's with no concept of fire control tactics-- if it's hot, squirt it!).

As one has already eluded, the main concern would be touching off a round from ambient temperatures getting pretty hot. I would have to carry most likely in my pants gear pocket, since anything else would require massive unhooking/undressing to get to it. Not exactly tactical. :D

The turnout gear can protect you from some mighty warm temperatures, but the pants pocket is really only one layer, vice three.

October 16, 2004, 07:16 PM
You REALLY need to check with your chief - the liability issues could come back to bite you.

I have heard of and have seen apparatus that had guns onboard, but am not aware of anyone who actually carried in their turnout gear. I've got to think that the odds of needing a gun in the middle of a call when there werent cops already there is infinitesimal. Plus, you have any number of other weapons at your disposal, anything from a charged line to a halligan tool.

Even the guys who work for multi-role agencies gun down during fire runs. Now EMS, that's a different story....

Mad Man
October 16, 2004, 07:28 PM
keep in mind I would be in full turnout gear,

I'm not familiar with full turnout gear. Would you even be able to access a concealed firearm with all that stuff on?

If not, the chances of the gun doing you any good are about nil.

Standing Wolf
October 16, 2004, 08:23 PM
The person you should be asking is your Chief.

Absent a written policy prohibiting firearms, I'd keep my mouth shut: there's plenty enough trouble floating around without looking for it.

October 16, 2004, 09:12 PM
Hi there Insectguy, enjoy Your stay at The High Road.... I know I am!

I was wondering...

I recently took a class on clandestine labs, and was amazed at how prevalent these actually are.

Do You mean Meth labs? If so, would'nt it be a really bad idea to fire off a round in or around one of those things? I thought all of the fumes and vapors could set off a pretty bad explosion or start a fire.
Then again, if said lab is already on fire or already exploded...

Shaughn Leayme
October 16, 2004, 09:15 PM
Given the possibility of falling thru a floor or roof, I don't think I would want to be carrying anything that could result in me sustaining an impact injury, such as a pistol IWB or in a shoulder holster, it will hurt enough without an immovable object connecting with a your pistol and ramming it into you.

The chemicals that are used in the clandestine labs are such, that discharging a firearm inside one, would or could be akin to pulling the pin on a handgrenade,not a nice thing.

If you did come to a fire and it was a lab I imagine you would be pulled back to a safe distance and your job would be to contain the fire, since some illegal drugs use ammonia and they overpressure 20 and 100 pound propane tanks and inhaling ammonia is not a good thing.

You might be able to get the kevlar vest at a discount if you submit your order on department letter head or maybe the local police can help you in that department.

Leaving the gun in a secure lockbox on the truck or in the station may be the better idea.

Ky Thunder
October 16, 2004, 11:33 PM
I carry,i've been on a Fire/Rescue/EMS squad 15 yrs and 90%of the runs i make,im carrying.Reason,couple of yrs ago had a call of a grass fire at an isolated location,upon arrival we were met by a man w/a rifle who said to get the hell off his property.Didnt need our assistance.Turns out he was "protecting"his marijuana crop.Last year,we had a car accident w/entrapment call.The FD got there before the PD,2 guys from rescue go trotting up to the car and the meth head in the car starts shooting at them through the front window w/a .357,luckily they werent hit.The KSP showed up and dragged him thru the side window after a pretty intense standoff.I guess its kinda intimidating,even for a dope head,to be looking down about 4 shotgun barells.And last year in Lexington KY one FF/EMT was killed and another wounded after being ambushed when they responded to a medical call.The shooter had already killed his wife and was waiting for the firefighters when they got off their engine.Probably 50% of the medics and FF's at my dept carry concealed,the Chief knows and approves.LE doesnt always roll when we do,and a 5 or 10 minute LE response time can seem like forever when the SHTF.

Lt. G
October 17, 2004, 12:09 AM
Check your Department's policy on firearms. Most FDs prohibit firearms in the firestation unless you are a L.E.O. Much less on your person or in the rig.

Bless you for doing the job for free. I'm a lifer with the FD, sometimes I wonder why I didn't do something less bruising on the old bod.
See you on the BIG one!

October 17, 2004, 01:55 AM
" I've got to think that the odds of needing a gun in the middle of a call when there werent cops already there is infinitesimal. "

You are dead wrong on that point my friend. Happens all the time. It is very common (for me, a several times daily occurance) to arrive on a call and find that it was nothing like what you were told (a several times a day occurance to get bad information or information that doesn't really reflect what you are ACTUALLY responding to). A couple dramatic examples: I once responded to a call of a possible stroke. When I got there I found two gentlemen that had been shot 17 times between the two of them. On another call I responed to a man down. I arrived to find a woman laying out in front of an apartment building: just as I had been told. However, the reason she was laying there was because her husband had beat the crap out of her and left her lying there. When we arrived and began talking to her, he came out of the apartment with a knife. I held him off with an oxygen bottle for several minutes before the police arrived and the only reason they even responded was because my partner hit the emergency button on his radio. Yet another example: I responded to a man down. It turned out to be a junkie that we had had a run in with earlier in the day on a previous call. He was lying on the sidewalk passed out. When I woke him up, he came up with a knife. I was in a knockdown dragout fight with him on a very busy public street before the police arrived and turned a K9 loose on him. Stuff like this is common place.

That being said, I don't, and wouldn't carry a gun on duty. There are too many issues involved. Not to say that it would never be needed, but I personally wouldn't.

"If you did come to a fire and it was a lab I imagine you would be pulled back to a safe distance and your job would be to contain the fire, since some illegal drugs use ammonia and they overpressure 20 and 100 pound propane tanks and inhaling ammonia is not a good thing."
The problem with this idea is that you probably don't know it is a meth lab that is on fire. You respond to a reported structure fire, you pull up and there is fire showing. You pull a line and make an interior attack. Unlike fires on TV and the movies, you can't see anything at all inside a structure fire. The building is full of smoke. You usually have the fire knocked down before you can see anything. Sometimes, you can break a window, hold the nozzle out the window and spray a fog pattern out the window. This draws the smoke out the window and you can see for a minute: get a look at the room and move on. But obviously, this can only be done under the right conditions and isn't something that I commonly do on a fire, but I have done it.
I have been on several meth lab fires and there was only one of them that we figured out what was going on before we knocked the fire down. Iniside the condo, they had built another room inisde a room so they could vent the air through an exhaust filter. Obviously we figured out pretty quick that there was something wrong when we found a rooom built inside a room. However, this didn't really change our stradegy. We still had to fight the fire: it was in a condo. If we pulled out and went defensive, we would have lost the whole building: best case senario.

October 17, 2004, 08:57 PM
I greatly appreciate the responses.

As for checking with the chief, I live in rural South Georgia. We are ecstatic with any and all help we can get. Since it's a volunteer department, I really, really doubt they would ever fire me (pun intended). Certified firefighters are not really easy to come across. Besides, in my county, the CCW-issuing judge is married to the sheriff. :p Not much of a problem carrying just about anywhere in the county. They really love our department, especially when we usually beat them to the scenes by several minutes.

My main concern is arriving on a scene very much like KyThunder was describing. It's the nutcases and druggies outside the fire which can cause you problems. There have been instances here where crackheads have attacked firefighters trying to save a structure because they thought the firefighters were trying to steal their "product." There are numerous professional firefighters who carry fulltime in the more populated areas surrounding ours.

As for the meth labs, as 444 stated, you usually cannot tell until you're inside. At that point, unless others lives are at stake, we would drop back and do crowd control. I have no intention of lighting off a round inside a meth lab. It's probably already burned the toxic vapors, but when combatting a fire, I would not be able to get quickly to a firearm. Of course, then I would have a charged line as a defensive mechanism. (This has been used several times by surrounding departments).

Madman, turnout gear is a triple layer suit designed to cover any exposed skin, when worn with a respirator. It affords protection for short durations against several hundred degree environments. The possibility of carrying under the main portion is not really an option, because it takes forever to get to that area. However, there are external pockets with a single layer of protection which can be more easily accessed if needed.

I still have to think this through. For those of you who have never lived in a southern, rural area, you may not appreciate the probabilities of coming across something less than honorable. As a transplanted yankee, I realize some of this may be paranoia, but the training I've received has promulgated a healthy survival instinct.

Well, that and my five kids, and gorgeous wife who lets me buy guns.......

October 17, 2004, 09:52 PM
Insectguy, check your Private Mesages (PMs) :)

Billy Sparks
October 18, 2004, 07:54 AM
I would shy away from wearing under your turnout gear just from the aspect of it is too easy to take a fall or such and end up with a odd bruise. Trust me I know.

I very seldom carry my CCW on calls here, usually I lock it up before I get into my gear. Now if we are doing a land search or a USAR deployment I carry a S&W 642 loaded with snake shot and several speed strips of hollow point ammo.

October 18, 2004, 09:10 PM
oh, THAT vfd. i thought this was going to be about carrying while very foolishly drunk, which is an obvious no-no :)

October 19, 2004, 05:22 AM
I carry while responding in my VFD, but after 20 years I usually drive (chauffer) & don't typically don an SCBA anymore. I would probably want to disarm if I were going to be entering a building with SCBA, except perhaps for my pocket P32. We (in my FD) have discussed allowing FF's to put small lockable safes in their gear lockers so they can secure "valuables" while respnonding to a call. I know another VFD in the same town has done that as well.

Matt G
October 19, 2004, 08:10 AM
I can' t see why you wouldn't carry.

That said, I also have learned that many bureacracies haven't forbidden things yet just because they haven't thought of it, yet. Even a rural fire district can get such bureacrat-itis.

'Tis often "better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission." Just carry safely, whatever you do,and don't let it interfere with your duties in any way.

Johnny Guest
October 20, 2004, 11:05 AM
- - - No matter what kinds of well reasoned answers you pick up on this or any other board.

Now, I'll address another point, one which most of us had rather not acknowledge.

Rural or not, there may come a day when you're trapped in a burning building. I mean, you may actually DIE on duty. Terrible to ponder, sure. But, worse than dying in a fire would be taking another firefighter with you.

Until someone verifies a downed fireguy or cop is dead, DEAD, DEAD, his/her colleagues will bend every effort to effect rescue. Even then, they'll probably try to recover the remains. And, would you want your squaddies to be met with bullets from YOUR handgun?

If you must carry into fires, please - - Do NOT carry a loaded revolver. The round in the chamber behind the barrel has full velocity when it cooks off, same as if the firing pin popped the primer. AND, the other four or five rounds in the cylinder wouldn't be exactly harmless, barrel or no. By the same token, don't carry an autoloader with a round chambered. The ammo in the magazine can cook off with no particular danger, even if it is a bit noisy.


Ky Thunder
October 20, 2004, 03:44 PM
I agree with Johnny,I wouldn't want to ccw in a structure fire and i don't.Theres always a medic or pump operator that i can leave my pistol with.However,at least in my dept,structure fires don't happen alot.We do respond to alot of medical emergency calls,motor vehicle accidents,weather related emergencies,such as flooding and the occasional search and rescue or atv accidents back in the mountains.Maybe im just paranoid,but i want the ability to defend myself if i have to on these calls.LE is not always on scene or even enroute,so,your on your own for ever how long it takes them to get there.Also,theres a large drug problem in my part of KY,and some of these druggies would just as soon kill you as not,especially if they think they can get the drugs out of the ambulance.I don't know how it is in other places,but not everyone here gets the warm and fuzzies for the FD.Maybe im odd,but,i'd rather have my gun and not need it,than need it and not have it,but,that's just my opinion,i could be wrong.

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