Leadership

I CAN SPEAK CLEARLY NOW

Issue 2 and Volume 156.

BY SCOTT BALTIC Recent research and the experience of more and more fire departments indicate that mask amplifiers are the way to improve voice communication while wearing SCBA. In the 31 years that Captain Mike Kreuger spent with the Pittsburgh (PA) Fire Department (25 as a captain), voice communication while wearing air masks was pretty dicey. “The louder you yell, the worse it gets,” he says. Additionally, Kreuger says, the built-in speaking diaphragms on masks are too fragile. A little ice or a small crack—and forget about it. Kreuger eventually developed and used a system of hand signals with his company. The setup worked for the most part, unless one of the regulars familiar with the system was off duty or out sick. Then somebody unfamiliar with the hand signals would fill in, which moved the company back to square one. Effective, reliable fireground communication is essential for firefighter safety.…

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