Can You Identify All of These Firefighting Tools?


By: Jacqueline Samaroo

6 Min Quiz

Image: Davin G Photography / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

It's a five-alarm quiz! Grab your bunker gear, Deckie, we need you on this one!

Fighting fires in a residential area requires a very different approach and quite often a different set of tools from those used to take on wildland and oil fires. Firefighters have to know which tools to use where, while keeping themselves and everyone else safe.

Forcible entry is a big part of the firefighter's job, and there are several tools used by firefighters to help them get into a building in a hurry. Can you name any of them? How about the ones firefighters put together to make up a "set of irons?" If you know what those are, then this quiz is definitely one you have got to try!

Some firefighting tools are quite specialized and require in-depth training in order to use them safely and effectively. Others are ordinary equipment you might even find around your own home. Take that triangular block firefighters use in a pinch to shut off sprinkler heads. Do you know what we are hinting at? If you do, take the quiz and see what else is in store!

If you are a career firefighter, call firefighter or someone who simply admires the good work firefighters do, then you can definitely get on the "A-side" of this quiz. Get started!

Do you know what this basic piece of firefighting equipment is called?

Webbing is a fundamental tool for firefighters. It is simply a strip of woven fabric, but it is so versatile that it gets put to a wide variety of uses. For example, it can assist with pulling injured victims and firefighters out of harm’s way and help with dragging equipment, such as fire hoses, from one location to another.


What is the name given to this versatile chunk of material?

Wedges are inexpensive yet indispensable tools for a firefighting crew to have. They can be used to hold doors open in instances where the door closing behind you can leave you trapped on the inside. Also, two wedges pushed in from opposite directions can effectively shut off the water from a sprinkler head.


Can you name the signaling device shown here?

Flare guns are traditionally used for signalling and for providing illumination. Firefighters, however, put them to another use: starting a prescribed and controlled fire so as to use up “fuel” ahead of a large fire.


What is the name of the demolition tool shown here?

The sledgehammer is the tool of choice for delivering powerful, destructive blows. Its large head and long handle allow the firefighter to use less time and effort getting through barricades.


Which multipurpose power tool is shown in this photo?

Firefighters rely heavily on an array of chainsaws for the cutting power they provide. They can be used for forcible entry and to provide ventilation for crew members inside a burning building. A chainsaw can also be used to cut away branches, perhaps to free a car and passengers trapped under a fallen tree.


Do you know the name of this climate-related gadget?

A handheld weather meter can provide firefighters with valuable information as they tackle wildland fires. It gives readings of wind speed and wind direction, as well as temperature and humidity, all of which help firefighters to know where a fire is heading, where to start a backfire and where to build firebreaks.


Can you name the protective gear shown in this image?

It is very important that a firefighter’s work gloves provide both protection and flexibility. Firefighters work in various hazardous conditions, so while protecting their hands, they must still be able to effectively and efficiently manipulate several different types of firefighting tools.


Which grabbing and pulling tool is shown here?

The fire hook or pike pole may not be as extensively used by firefighters as it was in the past, but it is still a very convenient piece of equipment for the crew to have. The closet hook is the shorter version of the fire hook, for use in tight spaces.


Do you recognize the climbing aid shown here?

An extension ladder is also called a telescopic ladder. It can be extended for greater reach and then collapsed for easy storage. Some fire trucks come equipped with a turntable extension ladder which is fixed to a swivel base atop the truck.


Can you identify this versatile chopping and digging tool?

The Pulaski ax is actually a combination ax and adze. It can chop thick brush and dig into rough, hard ground. It is often used by forest firefighters to clear vegetation so as to create a firebreak. It is named after Ed Pulaski who worked as an assistant ranger with the United States Forest Service and is said to have designed this very special tool in 1911.


What is the name of this simple but effective firefighting implement?

Wildland fires often have to be fought without the assistance of water. In these cases, firefighters have several tools, such as the brush fire broom, at their disposal to smother the fire.


Do you know what this tool for breaking automobile glass is called?

The typical window punch was the go-to tool used by rescuers when they needed to break auto glass. More recently, however, auto glass is being designed as laminated (in layers) for greater safety but most window punches are unable to break through them. In these cases, firefighters may have to use axes or saws, instead.


Do you know the name of the respiratory gear shown here?

Very often the firefighter has to enter environments where there is no breathable air, perhaps due to smoke or toxic air pollutants. In these cases, the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) becomes a life-saving device. When designed for use underwater, it is called a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA).


Which common wildland firefighter hand tool is shown here?

McLeod tool is a rake/hoe combination tool for digging firebreaks. It is often put to use when fighting fires in mountainous or rocky locations.


Can you name this tool for slicing through restraints?

The cutting edge of a seatbelt cutter is extremely sharp and so, for the sake of safety, it is often placed in a protective housing. Seatbelt cutters are typically incorporated into window punches, knives, flashlights and other rescue tools.


Which commonly used firefighting tool is this?

The air pressurized water fire extinguisher (or simply APW) is just one of the various types of extinguishers carried by the firefighting crew. Other types are the carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguisher and the dry chemical extinguisher. The contents of each extinguisher are meant to be used on a specific type of fire.


Can you name this device used for climbing?

The roof ladder has hooks or a clamping device which allows it to grip securely to a roof so firefighters or people in need of rescuing can climb safely up or down. There are other types of hook ladders which are designed to fit onto window sills.


Can you spot the name of the forcible entry tool shown here?

The K-tool allows firefighters to gain entry “through the lock” of a locked door as opposed to trying to break the door down. It is now a preferred method and has replaced use of many other forcible entry tools.


What is the name of this convenient water container?

Indian pumps or Indian tanks are often used when fighting wildfires. On some models, the tank is a collapsible bag which makes it easy to store and to carry to and from the site of the fire.


Which common type of chopping tool is shown here?

The flathead ax is often part of a firefighter’s “set of irons,” the other part of the set being a Halligan tool. The two are said to be “married and carried” forming the ideal implement for striking and prying during forcible entry.


Do you know the name of this fire extinguisher?

The fire swatter’s long handle ensures that the firefighter can remain at a relatively safe distance from the flames while using the tool. Also, its broad head lets it effectively cover and smother sections of flames or burning embers.


Can you name this implement used to start fires?

When tackling a wildfire, firefighters have to have a fire plan. That plan quite often includes using a drip torch to start a prescribed and controlled fire ahead of the one they are fighting so as to use up the fuel before it gets there.


Can you name this tool used to open water sources?

Upon arriving at the scene of a fire, it is essential for firefighters to gain access to water in any available hydrants. The adjustable hydrant wrench can fit over nuts of various sizes, allowing the firefighter to quickly and easily remove hydrant caps and open hydrant valves.


Which helpful firefighting tool is shown in this image?

Although it is called a bolt cutter, this versatile tool is put to many other uses by firefighters. It can cut through padlocks, wire mesh, reinforced rods and chain links.


What is the name of this implement used for forcible entry?

Firefighters are often required to break into homes and other buildings in order to save lives and property. The Halligan, sometimes referred to as a Halligan bar, is a very common tool used by firefighters for forcible entry. It was designed in 1948 by First Deputy Chief Hugh Halligan of the New York City Fire Department.


Do you know the name of this multipurpose wildland firefighting tool?

This basic but indispensable tool gets used in several ways when fighting wildfires. It can be used to dig up dirt for smothering a fire; to build a firebreak to stop a fire in its tracks; and to hack away at dry bushes which could become added fuel for the fire.


What is the name of this protective covering?

The fire shelter is viewed as a last resort for firefighters trapped in a wildfire and it has saved many lives since being introduced in the 1960s. Firefighters are trained, however, to take every precaution necessary so that they will not have to use the fire shelter, since it can protect against high heat but not intense, direct flames.


Can you name this piece of protective clothing?

The fire-resistant balaclava worn by firefighters is designed so that the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) they wear is not impeded by it. The most common material used in making fire-resistant balaclavas is Nomex, which is very resistant to high heat, chemicals and radiation.


Do you know the name of the digging tool in this image?

The pickhead ax or pickax is made with a cutting blade on one side of the head and a pick on the other. The handle is traditionally made of wood, with fiberglass becoming a popular option nowadays. The pickhead ax is often used for forcible entry as well as for digging.


Which common extrication tool is shown here?

There are several hydraulic tools used as extrication tools by firefighters, especially at the scene of vehicular accidents. These include the hydraulic spreader, hydraulic cutter and hydraulic ram.


Which wildland fire fighting tool is shown in this picture?

The fire rake is often called into action during wildfire suppression, and as such, it is built to be durable in the most challenging conditions. One wildland use of the fire rake is to remove undergrowth and other possible “fuel” from a firebreak.


Which name is given to this device used to stop water flow?

With a hose shutoff clamp, the firefighters can momentarily stop the water flowing through a hose. They can then quickly change hose nozzles, replace a faulty hose or add another hose for extra reach with no time wasted.


Can you identify the communication device shown in this picture?

Communication is a key part of the firefighter’s ability to get each job done effectively. Whether it is reporting on the progress of an operation, requesting assistance or alerting others to your location, the radio plays a vital (often life-or-death) role in how all firefighting crews operate.


Do you know the name of this common firefighting tool?

Many fire hoses are made of two layers – an inside liner and an outer jacket. They are used for applying water as well as other extinguishing agents, such as foam, to a fire.


Which combination tool is shown here?

The TNT tool (or Denver tool) is described as a 5-in-1 tool. It is a combination of a sledgehammer, D-handle, pry tool, ax and ram. A TNT tool can be used to ram in doors, pull down drywall, break through a roof to provide ventilation, pry open vehicles after an accident and chop through vegetation.


What is the name of this rescue tool?

The hydraulic spreader is often used at the scene of vehicular accidents to pry apart sections of the vehicle so a trapped person can be freed. There is also a combination tool which acts as both a spreader and a cutter.


What is the name of this device for carrying away injured people?

The Stokes basket was designed by Charles Francis Stokes, a rear admiral and Surgeon General of the United States Navy (1910 to 1924). This vital piece of search and rescue equipment is also called a Stokes litter or a Stokes stretcher.


Do you recognize this handy firefighting tool?

Cable cutters can be thought of as the larger version of wire cutters. They are somewhat handier than wire cutters, however, as they can cut through thin wire, as well as spun cable. They can also cut through multiple wires at the same time.


What is the name of the viewing device in this picture?

The thermal imaging camera (TIC) has proven to be one of the most important search and rescue devices for firefighters. It can be used to determine where hotspots are located and to quickly find people inside structures without having to search every possible nook and cranny.


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