Firefighters rely upon a wide variety of tools, clothing, equipment and other gear in the performance of their duties. Many are very specialized and can be used in a variety of ways. We’ve included a representative variety of clothing, tools and equipment on this page to help explain how they are used by firefighters as they perform the many tasks they might be assigned.

If there is a tool or piece of equipment you would like to know more about, please contact us and describe it. We’ll do our best to explain how it’s used by our firefighters.



All firefighters and officers wear a balaclava under their helmets. This protective hood is regarded as an interface component – providing thermal protection for the face, neck, and ears. Windsor Fire & Rescue Services uses a long style hood so that the protection extends down under the collar of the bunker coat, helping to keep the hood in place. The balaclava must be kept clean for it to do its job properly, otherwise burns, injuries and disease can result. “This is not merely a question of style, neat appearance and comfort, it is a matter of life and death” (from the instruction manual supplied by the manufacturer).


Cutters Edge Multi-Cut Fire Rescue Saw

The Cutters Edge Multi-Cut Fire Rescue saw is a tool used by firefighters in the Windsor Fire & Rescue Service for Ventilation, Forcible Entry and also in Rescue situations. This saw is specially designed for use in the Fire & Rescue Service and is very different than what you normally see for residential or commercial use chain saws.

There are a number of features on these saws that were specifically designed for firefighting use.

Some of these include:

  • An externally mounted air filtration system, which enables these saws to run longer than conventional chain saws in the hot, smoky fire ground environment.
Cutters Edge Multi-Cut Fire Rescue saw
  • A tool-less guard/depth gauge, which provides maximum operator protection by covering the cutting chain, but allows depth-of-cut adjustments, from zero to eight inches deep to prevent cutting rafters and supports. These adjustments can be made easily with gloves on.
  • A Carbide Tipped Bullet Chain. Designed to file through a variety of materials instead of cutting or slicing through.

Although the Bullet Chain is specifically designed to cut wood and other typical building materials it has been proven to cut through numerous other materials in rescue situations which include: Roofing nails, joist hangers, nailing plates, flashing, light gauge sheet metal, and some lightweight concretes. It is also capable of cutting automotive sheet metal, automotive glass, hurricane glass, bulletproof glass, plastics, fiberglass, and many other composite materials. It can also cut aircraft skin, cockpit and aircraft windows, and some aircraft structural materials.Cutters Edge Multi-Cut Fire Rescue Saws are available in a number of models based on bar lengths of 12”, 16” or 20”. The approximate weight of each saw is 20 lbs.

Submitted by Firefighter Justin Carson

Firefighting Boots

There is a very wide variety of firefighting boots, although anything worn by a firefighter on duty must be NFPA approved. They have a steel shank, a puncture proof sole and steel toe protection.

Firefighting boots are either rubber or leather with a felt liner, flexible and engineered to perform on wet surfaces and keep the feet warm and dry.


Firefighting Gloves

Firefighting gloves are designed to provide limited protection against injuries to the hand, during conventional firefighting by trained professional firefighters who use due caution at all times. Included is a moisture barrier that provides the best chemical and viral protection while keeping your hands dry.

firefighting gloves

Halligan Tool

The Halligan Tool also known as a Halligan Bar, is a tool commonly used in the fire and rescue service for forcible entry. It was designed in the 1940’s by Hugh Halligan, a First Deputy Fire Commissioner for the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). The Halligan is a multipurpose prying tool consisting of a claw (or fork), a blade (or adze) and a pick. This heavy duty tool was designed to pound, puncture, pry, twist and cut all types of barriers, and has been given the nickname of “The Universal Key”.

The Halligan tool has become so popular among the firefighting community that equipment manufacturers have developed versions of the same tool which carry the name of “PRO BAR” or “HOOLIGAN TOOL”.

Halligan Bar

A Halligan tool can be joined together with an axe or TNT tool to form what is known as “a set of IRONS”.

Specifications: Manufactured of heat treated high alloy steel for maximum strength. The Halligan is available in numerous lengths ranging from 24” to 42” and weights from 8 lbs to 12 lbs.

Submitted by: Firefighter Justin Carson

Reference: Essentials of Firefighting, 4th Edition




Windsor Fire & Rescue Services uses the Cairns .Ben 2 helmet by Morningpride. Both have the same profile, providing coverage down the back of the neck.

Mounted on the front of the helmet is a ‘passport’, which identifies the department and has a Velcro panel on which the firefighter attaches a tag indicating the vehicle to which he/she is assigned. When they are off duty, the Velcro patch on the helmet is one that displays the firefighter’s name for quick identification of the helmet.

The interior of the helmet is lined with either felt or suede over a plastic suspension system to provide insulating and protective air space between the top of the wearer’s head and the helmet shell. The plastic suspension system is adjustable by a ratchet system either made larger or smaller by turning a knob at the back of the helmet. Both helmets come in 3 colours depending on the rank of the individual.

Windsor firefighters have a storm collar attached to the helmet liner by Velcro. The storm collar adds an additional layer of protection over and above that provided by the balaclava. It also provides warmth during long hours at a winter fire or accident scene.


Kore Kooler Rehab Chair

Since the introduction of turnout gear, today’s firefighter is totally encapsulated. This allows firefighters to be shielded from the extreme temperatures of today’s fire.

The downfall to being so protected is the condition of heat stress, which is the imbalance of heat gain to heat loss within the human body. This problem plagues every fire department and is a serious concern in the summer months. That is why rehabilitation (“Rehab”) on the fire scene is becoming more of a factor in firefighter health and safety.

“Rehabilitation is a post work or rest period management of the individuals environment, activity, condition, and clothing to limit the effects of heat accumulation from work in hot environments.”

Windsor Fire & Rescue Services has added a piece of equipment to its arsenal to increase firefighter health and safety. This is the KORE KOOLER REHAB CHAIR made by Morning Pride Manufacturing, who is also a leading manufacturer of firefighter protective ensembles.


The rehab chair uses the practice of “passive cooling” (removal of SCBA, coat, helmet and gloves) for fire ground rehab but goes one step further and introduces forearm cooling. The chair relies on direct contact of the skin with a large volume of water through immersion. Heat is transferred from the hotter arms of the firefighter to the cooler water in the troughs and the cooled blood flows back to the body core picking up additional core heat for subsequent removal.


  • Construction: The chair is essentially a modified folding chair with arm reservoirs that contain plastic bags filled with ambient temperature water. Features wide rail design to accommodate the bulk of bunker gear
  • Seat Height: 16 inches
  • Chair Weight: 11 lbs
  • Chair Weight Capacity: rated at 300 lbs
  • Color: Blue, (special order colors: Black, Lime, or Green)
  • Accessories: optional Sun Shade that attaches to the chair

The general public may not see the Kore Kooler Rehab Chair as a piece of safety equipment due to the perception that the firefighters on the scene are sitting down and are not actively engaged in firefighting activities but the reality is that the rehab chair has proven beneficial in increasing firefighter safety and allows the firefighters to be more productive on the fire scene.

It is a general practice within the Windsor Fire & Rescue Services that the Rehab chairs be used at any working structure fire or any other emergency incident when feasible.

Submitted by: Firefighter Justin Carson

Reference: Information and photo referenced from


Leak Seal Kit

The Leak Seal Kit contains a variety of items such as plugs, patches, bags, straps, screws, etc., which are used to seal leaks in drums, barrels, containers, railway cars, gas tanks, etc.

These tools are used in situations where non-sparking leak-stop equipment is required.

The photo to the left displays all of the items found in the Leak Seal Kit.

leak seal

Non Spark Tools

The Non Spark Tools for Hazmat Teams are:

Axe, Bung Wrench, Pipe Wrench, Scrub Brush, Pry Bar, and Shovel

These tools are designed to be used in rescue situations in explosive atmospheres. They can be used without the fear of creating a spark which could trigger an explosion.

Non Spark Tools

Plug & Wedge Kit

The Plug & Wedge Kit is possibly one of the simplest systems used in a high tech industry. It contains a series of wooden plugs in a variety of sizes which are hammered into place to stop leaks in items such as natural gas lines, household gas lines, etc.

Plug & Wedge

Pump Panel

The pump panel is where it all begins: we have to have a starting point where the application of the water and foam is controlled as it is applied to the fire.

The panel is a mixture of gauges, inlets, outlets, lights and control handles that when operated by the pump driver is the beginning of the fire control. The fire hose is the lifeline to a firefighter, if when in a fire, the fire hose that he or she is operating fails, that firefighter is now in danger. So the job of the pump operator is very important, and the pump panel is his tool to do his job. For every fire hose that is fed by the pump, there is a gauge to tell the operator the pressure at which the hose is working, and a control handle that will turn the water supply on or off. To give the pump the water supply that is required to control the fire, there is a 5″ or 2 ½” inlet opening at the panel and also on the opposite side of the truck.

pump panel

The pump panel also controls the water flow to the fire hose hand lines. It is up to the pump operator to control these hand lines at a safe operating pressure and this is done by the controls on the pump panel.

So there is a little bit about the pump panel on our fire truck, one of the many tools of our trade used to protect lives and property.

Submitted by Captain John Quennell

pump panel

Red Medical Bag

red medical bag

Red medical bag and the life-saving contents.

The red medical bag is at the side of the firefighting crew at every medical emergency.

In this bag, there is a 2200-psi oxygen tank that is controlled by a dual line regulator, which feeds our BVM (bag valve mask) and oxygen rebreather mask. The BVM comes in two sizes, infant and adult, and they are easily interchangeable. They are used to assist the breathing of a patient by squeezing the bag to enter the proper amount of air to inflate the lungs.

Also in the bag is an assortment of airways, used to assist in airflow to the lungs. These come in a variety of sizes from infant to adult. They are inserted in the mouth at a side angle and turned a quarter clockwise to enter the airway. The measurement of the distance from the side of the mouth to the ear lobe determines the size of the airways.

red medical bag

Firefighter with red medical bag.

There is also a hand suction device called the v-vac, that assists in the removal of fluid or debris that may block the patient’s airway. Also in the red bag there is an assortment of bandages and wrappings that help in the bleeding control of a patient, a compact package containing a silver rescue blanket, oxygen tubing, and Nitril medical gloves for the firefighter to wear for both his/her protection and that of the patient.

So when you see a firefighter enter a home with the red bag at their side, you will know that person is going to get the best care possible.

Submitted by Captain John Quennell


In the Windsor department, there are two types of hose spanners. The old style is made from aluminum alloy – a strong metal tool that can be used to tighten leaking hose coupling on 3” supply line or a 1 ¾” firefighting attack line.

One end of the spanner can be used to shut off the gas meter outside a house. The spanner is also used to open hydrants for hose hook-up. The tip of the spanner can be used as a pry bar.


The new style is made from a high-tech plastic/fiberglass alloy and the spanner has evolved into a multi-use tool. In addition to performing all of the tasks a regular spanner does, this device has a seat belt cutter, a center punch for breaking automotive glass, an elongated notch for shutting off meters. It folds in half and is compact enough for the firefighters to easily carry it in their bunker coat or pant’s pocket

The Q-Siren

The Q-Siren has been part of the fire fighting tradition for decades. “The Electric F” appears in Federal Signal catalogues dating back to 1931. The grille was part of a Federal Coaster Siren, Model “4” with an 8” rotor. Earlier lines of mechanical sirens included Models O, G, C, W and WF. These models were the basis for the design of the now famous Q-Siren. Versions of these early mechanical sirens were used on top of police cards, ambulances and, of course, fire trucks. Development of electronic sirens came in the 1940’s and 1950’s using vacuum tubes prior to the general use of transistorized sirens in the late 1960’s. Despite the new technologies the Q-Siren has remained a constant on most fire trucks in the name of tradition and quality. In 2000, Federal Signal introduced the electronic version of the Q-Siren, the e-Q2B. This new electronic siren features the traditional Q-Wail while incorporating several features of a standard electronic siren including “yelp”, “air horn” “PA” and radio rebroadcast. Recently, Federal Signal took steps to ensure the integrity of the Q-Siren sound by pursuing a trademark for the sound of the Q-Wail with the intention of preserving the tradition for generations to come.

(reprinted from the May 2004 edition of Federal Signal’s “Hot Times” newsletter)


Thermal Imaging Cameras

Technological advances in the firefighting field are an important component of a modern fire service. In the case of Thermal Imaging Cameras, the technology was developed by the American military and, over the course of several years, adapted for industrial use and then for use in the fire service.

The most powerful light produced cannot penetrate smoke, however thermal (infrared) energy does penetrate smoke. The Thermal Imaging Camera has the ability to transfer the thermal energy (infrared waves) into a visible image. The image produced is very much like an x-ray and it takes a trained person to correctly interpret the image. In a fire where the smoke is so thick a firefighter can’t see more than a couple of inches past his/her visor, the camera allows for a more effective search and rescue operation.

Thermal Imaging Camera

While firefighters are always mindful of causing as little damage to a fire scene as possible, it is also necessary to ensure that fire has not ‘traveled’ to inaccessible areas, waiting to rekindle. The Thermal Imaging Camera allows firefighters to locate hot spots in a wall or duct where fire can hide. It also allows firefighters to minimize damage at a fire scene and to prevent rekindles which can be costly to both the property owner and the municipality, and to preserve evidence at fires, enabling the Investigator to better determine the fire origin.

The water resistant Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) camera is rugged, reliable and is controlled by three easy large buttons designed for glove operation and features FSX, Flexible Scene Enhancement technology which enhances thermal images through real-time digital processing inside the camera.

The T-N-T Tool

The Bell Rings, you are called to a working structure fire. On arrival you know you have to grab a tool, but you are not sure what obstacles you may face. An axe is a very popular choice for firefighters but we have all been in the position of running back to the rig to get another tool because we didn’t have the right tool at the right time.

Denver Firefighters Mark Trujillo and Robert Terry took it upon themselves to develop a tool that would prevent the above situation. They called it the “T-N-T Tool”(due to their last names), or in the fire service it is also known as the “Denver Tool”.

The T-N-T Tool is designed to be five (5) tools in one.  So no matter what obstacles you might face, the tool will be the right one.

T-N-T Tool

The T-N-T Tool consists of the following:

  • An Axe: used to cut holes, windshields, locks, and thin metals
  • A Pry: used to pry trim during overhaul, open windows, and doors
  • A Ram: used to force doors, breach walls, and overhaul
  • D-Handle Pike pole: used to pull ceilings and walls, extra reach, and overhaul
  • Sledge Hammer: used to force doors and walls.

The T-N-T Tool is available in yellow or black handles and is available in many sizes and weights. Head weights are available in 6.5 lbs or 8.5 lbs and lengths or 30”, 35” and 40”.

The T-N-T tool continues to grow in popularity. More often than not it is the tool of choice for Windsor Firefighters. The Windsor Fire & Rescue Service maintains an inventory of at least one T-N-T Tool per vehicle.