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Spring Cleaning – Empty Your Pockets

For some of you, the seasons have shifted due to an unexplained miracle (or the axis of the earth rotating, your call) and Spring Cleaning is in the air.  Your desire to open up the windows and drag a mop around the house is a good thing, not OCD.


But I want to focus on something a little more specific to you fire types:  Cleaning out your gear.

Since you’re already washing your turnouts once a month and after every fire (or else cancer is your own fault) I want to get down to the nitty gritty of what’s in your pockets.

Personal preference and jurisdiction is going to determine what you carry so don’t worry if someone tells you to carry something you’ll never use.  Figure out what you need and add it but perhaps you need some guidance on what to wear and why.

Here’s the Happy Medic’s advice on spring cleaning your turnout pockets:


You need to have a common theme between pants and jacket to start.  I like to use a Right for Fight Left for Life system so that I instinctively know what is where when I need it most.

  • Pants Left (LIFE) Hip Pocket
    • Bail out kit.  You can buy a fancy harness and lifeline if you like, but I keep a 50 foot section of 3/8″ with carabiners on a fig 8 follow through on both ends.  One end is through the bottom of the bag and is for me, the other end deploys out the top of the bag and can be quickly latched around an axe or halligan in a window sill for quick evac.  This is not a descent bag, this is a life or death hang from the window and possibly get rescued bag.
  • Pants Right (Fight) Hip Pocket
    • Cut up bleach bottle “key” for forcing metal gates and latch doors. (If you don’t know what this is let me know and I’ll post how to make and use one!)  Hydrant spanner/gas key tucked into leather work gloves.  Medical gloves.
  • Jacket Left (LIFE) Pocket
    • Flash Hood, Gloves.  Don’t store your gloves on some dinky velcro clip outside your coat, keep them safe inside a pocket.
  • Jacket Right (FIGHT) Pocket
    • Multitool Clippers, medical gloves, 2 wooden door chocks.


Anything else wandering through your gear or anything you haven’t trained on in 30 days needs to go bye bye.

I also have on my gear: A firehouse key on pants and jacket, scissor pouch on pants with pens, shears and light.  Flashlight on helmet.  On shift I always add the radio, axe on the SCBA waist strap (You don’t need a Truckman’s belt if you have an SCBA) and box box flashlight from the Engine.

Sadly, now as an RC, I still carry all the same things in my pockets, but instead of an axe I have a reflective vest.  :(


Do you carry something I didn’t mention?  Think I should?  Mention it in the comments!

Take this warming feeling to clean and apply it to your gear.  Train on the location until you can deploy anything from your pockets without having to think of where stuff is.


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2 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning – Empty Your Pockets”

  1. Great info and idea to spring clean pockets. I have found people keeping all sorts of things in their pockets that they have never or rarely used. Organization makes you work better and smarter because you always know where the correct equipment is, as long you train on it. I have found that I can even tell when something is missing just because the weight is off.
    When I was starting out in EMS I wish someone had given me this type of advise.

  2. Or, your gear is so low-bid that you don’t even have room to carry anything.

    Nah, that’s not true. I could probably fit a flat piece of paper in my pants pockets. :-/

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