One of the most important pieces of equipment and sometimes the least protected – the radio might feel like a burden to add to your firefighting ensemble and the radio strap can either feel completely necessary or like many other tools that were created in order to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s important to be hands-free during routine station work or emergency calls but there’s not always a clear answer on what method works best. Like so many things in the fire service sometimes it’s resistance to change that prevents something from being used and other times it’s a bad idea. So, why would you need a radio strap as a firefighter?
Firefighters in the call of duty need to be able to use both hands while still communicating with each other. This means that they need a secure place where they can place their portable radios as they go about their duties. The solution is a firefighter radio strap that allows them to carry their radio with them at all times situated at the hip. The strap allows the firefighter to wear his or her radio outside the firefighter gear and it can also be used to carry several other items. The strap is made of leather and comes with 2 loops, one for the microphone and another that can be used to carry a utility knife or a flashlight.
While convenient on the exterior of bunker coats or worn over your duty uniforms the radio strap is best worn under the bunker coat during fire fighting or other hazardous duties. Much like an SCBA facepiece, one of the weakest parts of a firefighter’s PPE, the radio and its corded microphone are susceptible to deterioration and failure when exposed to extreme heat and fire. Wearing the radio strap under your bunker coat affords some protection to your radio and its microphone cord. The radio itself may hang slightly lower than the bottom of the coat and this. Running the lapel mic through your bunker coat snap hooks or through your collar may initially feel cumbersome but like so many other tasks this is improved with practice and muscle memory.
When it comes to purchasing your radio strap you want to make sure that it is made of leather. This is a great material that does well with holding gadgets in place and then sliding them off as needed. Leather is a great material because it’s tough and durable while still being comfortable. It also does well in heat making it great for firefighters. As you wear it, the leather becomes softer as it wears and will soon mold to the shape of your body. This makes it comfortable and easy to wear hence its popularity with armed and security forces as well. Improving your radio strap experience comes down to the anti-sway strap. When wearing your radio strap and bending over your radio will rotate the entire strap forward and possibly strike a patient, or just get in the way. When wearing your radio for routine work or in situations without your bunker coat an anti-sway strap will prevent the radio from swinging and becoming a bigger problem. These short accessory straps clip to the radio pouch and to a belt loop, allowing the strap to be worn comfortably while working but also preventing the erradic radio movement with more strenuous work or over larger ranges of motion.
Radio straps are a must-have if you are a firefighter. They are a great alternative to putting your radio in a pants pocket or your bunker coat and then having to fumble as you look for it in a dire situation. It is also a great way to ensure that you can easily reach your radio to call for help should you need to. Wearing it under your coat is a great way to ensure that fire does not damage your radio.