The 5 Best Multi Tools for Firefighters

What is the best multi tool for firefighters and EMTs?

Multi tools are very handy gadgets to have on you. This is true whether you work as a firefighter, EMT or simply like having a versatile tool on hand at all times. In the case of a firefighter, a multi tool is particularly important because it eliminates the need to add more devices to your already-heavy collection of firefighting equipment.

More importantly, it helps you to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Whether you’re a novice or veteran firefighter, you’ve probably learned that you need to be ready for anything and having a multi-tool can help you be prepared.

In our article, we’ll look at some of the best multi tools for firefighters and EMT’s as well as guide you on how to choose one. 

What to Consider Before Choosing a Multi Tool for Firefighters

When it comes to multi tools for firefighters, there are two primary functions they should perform:

●      Be suitable for everyday carry

●      Provide on-the-job support

Everyday Carry

As a firefighter, you’re expected to carry a variety of tools ranging from a radio to your own self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and more.

Unfortunately, you cannot sacrifice any of that equipment. Thus, the only compromise you can make is with the personal gear you decide to bring along. This is why it’s vital to find a gadget that provides many functions in one.

Every individual’s needs are different with regards to EDC items. The same applies to firefighters and EMT’s. What you’d like to carry will depend s on your roles and responsibilities in the fire department.

If you’re always in the field, breaking into buildings to rescue people from raging fires, then your needs will not be the same as a firefighter who’s mainly tasked with driving a fire truck or front office work.

But the beauty of multi-tools is that they can be used for numerous purposes. So, whatever your needs are, you’re sure to find one that works for you.

Getting a tool that you can use, not only for daily fixes but also firefighting-related tasks, is a bonus for anyone who doesn’t want to carry too much gear.

One benefit of these multi-tools is that a majority of them are compact. This enables you to conveniently clip it to your belt, on a keychain or put in your EDC bag.

Size and Weight

Apart from purpose, you also need to consider the size of the multi-tool. Often, you’ll have to make a trade-off between size, weight and number of features.

On one hand, you may get a multi-tool that is compact; perhaps even small enough to fit in your bunker gear and remain unnoticed. And being a firefighter, this is a crucial factor as every additional ounce of weight is important.

However, there’s a high possibility that such a gadget won’t have as many features. This does not mean that most multi-tools are bulky. In our review, we’ve included a several multi-tools that are lightweight and highly versatile.

The Pliers

With any multi-tool, one piece of equipment you’re not likely to miss is pliers. However, the type of pliers incorporated differs by brand and model. So, while some come with needle-nose pliers others have blunt-nose pliers.

Blunt nose pliers are beneficial if you want the capability to apply greater force at the end of the tool. Needle-nose pliers also have one key advantage, and that is the fact that they provide a more accurate gripping area.

Before choosing a specific multi-tool, decide which type of pliers addresses your needs more efficiently. If you can’t do without any one of them, then look for one that has both pliers.

Type of Blade

As with pliers, there are different shapes and designs of blades found in multi tools. Some have straight-edged, others serrated, and a few have combination blades.

Obviously, getting both kinds of blades would be a bonus, but if you only want to carry 1, you need to evaluate your needs. Serrated blades are ideal for sawing. Conversely, straight edge blades are suitable for situations where you want smooth, precise cuts.

Top 5 Multi Tools for Firefighters

#1 Leatherman Wave Plus Multi Tool

Leatherman is a brand that’s always been associated with high-quality tools, and their LEATHERMAN - Wave Plus Multitool with Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters and Spring-Action Scissors, Stainless Steel is no different. Striking the perfect balance between durability, sophistication and pricing, this is the only tool you’ll need to tackle challenges in your line of your work.

Starting with the design, the multi-tool is fabricated from premium-grade polished steel. Moreover, it gives you a variety of tools to work with, four of which can be easily accessed from the outside.

LEATHERMAN - Wave Plus Multitool with Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters and Spring-Action Scissors, Stainless Steel
  • READY FOR ANYTHING: The Wave is hands down our most popular multitool. We've updated it with premium replaceable wire cutters so it can tackle tough jobs for years to come.
  • FIT MORE FUNCTIONALITY: A variety of pliers, replaceable wire cutters, wire stripper, plain and serrated knives, saw, spring-action scissors, ruler, can and bottle openers, files, and screwdrivers.
  • LET'S BE PRACTICAL: Sometimes you only have one hand to spare. The Wave Plus only requires one hand to open and use all the tools, even the ones that aren't accessible from the outside. And with all-locking blades, you can cut with confidence.
  • ALWAYS ON HAND: With its compact size and lightweight design, you can stash your Wave Plus in your pocket and always have it when you need it.
  • GUARANTEED: Our 25-year limited warranty ensures that your Leatherman will give you many years of dependable service. Just send it in and we'll fix it up. All Leatherman multitools are made and repaired right here in the USA.

Last update on 2019-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

These include different types of pliers, plain and serrated knives, saw, scissors, wire cutters, wire stripper and screwdrivers.

A noteworthy feature about this equipment is that the scissors are spring-action. Compared to other models of scissors, these ones exert less strain during use. Sadly, it’s not possible to access the scissors from the exterior. While this is a huge setback, it’s offset by the excellent quality of scissors.

Despite the array of tools, this device is pretty compact, weighing in at 0.56 lbs. In fact, when it’s closed, it’s only about 2 inches long, meaning that it’s small enough to fit in one of your suit pockets. 

The one thing that might affect its portability is the lack of a pocket clip. There’s no lanyard loop either for individuals who might want a more convenient way of carrying it around.

Pros

●      Backed by a 25-year warranty

●      Comes in a compact size and lightweight profile

●      Extremely versatile thanks to the variety of tools

Cons

●      The quality of the saw can be improved

●      Expensive

#2 Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier

Apart from functionality, another aspect you should consider when choosing a multi tool for firefighters is comfort.

If you end up having to use it for a prolonged period- perhaps to pry open a stuck door or strike an object continuously- then it should feature an ergonomic design. This way, you won’t get fatigued too quickly. Gerber Suspension Mult-Plier with Grey Paraframe I Knife, Serrated Edge is a multi-tool designed with this particular aspect in mind.

The handles have been contoured, making the tool easy and comfortable to hold. Design aside, this tool is also very durable. It’s mainly made of stainless steel. And while the manufacturer doesn’t specify the specific grade of steel used, the device holds up fairly well.

Gerber Suspension Mult-Plier with Grey Paraframe I Knife, Serrated Edge
  • 1 of Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier [22-01471]
  • 1 of Gerber Paraframe I Knife, Serrated Edge, Grey [22-48445]

Last update on 2019-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another thing that sets this multi-tool from the pack is the lock mechanism. Gerber is known for its proprietary air-bolt lock-style, which never disappoints. Not only does this contribute to its longevity and efficiency, but it also makes it easy to disassemble. 

Some of the tools you’ll find in this unit are pliers and a wire cutter. Both of these boast a solid build. During our testing, we managed to break a nail in half using the wire cutter, and there was no deformation in the metal.

There are 10 other tools incorporated in the Gerber Suspension and they include serrated edge knife, saw, different types of screwdrivers, can opener, bottle opener, nylon sheath and a lanyard hole.

Pros

●      Contoured handles prevent fatigue while also improving grip

●      Accessibility to internal tools without opening the pliers

●      Durable

●      Reasonable size and weight

Cons

●      Size of the knife and saw blades are a bit too small

●      Sheath is somewhat flimsy

#3 SOG PowerAssist Multi Tool Pliers

If you can handle the weight, then getting a device that offers you  a high number of tools is the best option. With more tools, you’ll be able to tackle more jobs using just one tool. SOG Multitool Pliers - PowerAssist Black Oxide Multi Tool Pocket Knife and Utility Tool Set w/ 16 Lightweight Specialty Tools and EDC Sheath (B66N-CP) is the true definition of a multi-tool as it offers you 16 different tools.

Another thing you’ll notice about this multi tool is its compound leverage. This feature is added to provide a firm grip while also enabling you to apply greater force with the pliers.

Essentially, instead of depending on your own weight, this gadget is equipped with gears to help you. The gears increase the total potential force by a significant margin.

SOG Multitool Pliers - PowerAssist Black Oxide Multi Tool Pocket Knife and Utility Tool Set w/ 16 Lightweight Specialty Tools and EDC Sheath (B66N-CP)
  • 16 HAND TOOLS IN BLACK OXIDE 420 STAINLESS STEEL: The loadout for this EDC outdoor camping and hiking multitool includes pliers, screwdrivers, bottle and can openers, even a blasting cap crimper
  • 2X PLIERS POWER W/ PATENTED COMPOUND LEVERAGE: A tough and lightweight multi-tool knife, tool kit and survival kit in one; this powerhouse pocket multitool cuts, crimps and tightens twice as easy
  • EDC MULTITOOL SHEATH IN BALLISTIC NYLON: Use your everything tool with tools for work in the warehouse, office or home; or go backpacking, fishing and camping with this everyday carry multitool with sheath
  • 2 ONE-HAND OPEN MULTITOOL POCKET KNIFE 2.75 INCH BLADES: SOG Assisted Tech powers 1 straight edge and 1 serrated blade; no more broken nails getting your multitool pocket knife open
  • BLACK OXIDE COATING: Multitool is wax and oil coated right out of the box for increased corrosion resistance and minimal light reflection; this coating can be wiped clean upon using if desired

Last update on 2019-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other than the pliers, you’ll also get 15 tools that are crafted using stainless steel. With such a construction, you’re guaranteed that your tools will last a lifetime.

However, the true icing on the cake is the fact that you can access each of these tools using one hand.

This is one feature that really gives the PowerAssist a competitive edge. In fact, you’ll be able to switch among the different tools without moving your other hand. This is an important feature for you, considering all the other equipment you have to carry when putting out fires.

Pros

●      Has the highest number of tools

●      Durable stainless steel construction

●      The one-hand operation enables you to multitask

Cons

●      The locking mechanism needs some refining

#4 Leatherman Wingman Multi Tool

LEATHERMAN - Wingman Multitool with Spring-Action Pliers and Scissors, Stainless Steel is the best Leatherman multi tool for less than $100. While they’re highly-efficient and reliable, the Leatherman range of tools are among the most expensive. Thus, the Wingman was designed to serve as a value-priced version of their products.

And the good news is that even with a lower price tag, this multi-tool offers similar functions as its higher-priced counterparts. For instance, it has the spring-action scissors, which are more comfortable to use for an extensive period.

LEATHERMAN - Wingman Multitool with Spring-Action Pliers and Scissors, Stainless Steel
  • READY FOR ANYTHING: The Wingman is your go-to tool for projects around the house, on the job, or at the campsite. Conquer your everyday.
  • FIT MORE FUNCTIONALITY: The Wingman is equipped with 14 tools, including a knife, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, a wire stripper, scissors, a package opener, bottle and can openers, a file, and a ruler.
  • LET'S BE PRACTICAL: Sometimes you only have one hand to spare. The Wingman only requires one hand to open and use all the tools, even the ones that aren't accessible from the outside. And with a locking blade, you can cut with confidence.
  • ALWAYS ON HAND: With its compact size, lightweight design, and removable pocket clip, your Wingman is always within reach and ready to work.
  • GUARANTEED: Our 25-year limited warranty ensures that your Leatherman will give you many years of dependable service. Just send it in and we'll fix it up. All Leatherman multitools are made and repaired right here in the USA.

Last update on 2019-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In total, you’ll get 14 tools and this includes a knife and a pair of scissors. What we like about these two pieces of equipment is that they’re located on opposite sides of the exterior for easy accessibility.

All the other tools are located in the interior and they are: a file, ruler, Phillips head driver, large and small flathead drivers, wire stripper, bottle and can openers as well as a box cutter.

An important point to note is that the Leatherman Wingman has a smaller collection of tools compared to the Wave Plus and Gerber Suspension. However, the tools that you get are suitable to use in a vast range of situations.

Pros

●      It’s a reasonably-priced Leatherman multi-tool

●      Compact size

●      Sturdy build

●      Easy access to the knife and scissors

Cons

●      Made from stamped steel instead of the stronger forged steel

●      Does not come with multi-bit driver

#5 Gerber Center-Drive Plus Multi-Tool

Leatherman isn’t the only company that makes high-end multi-tools. If you don’t mind spending a little more to get a top-rated gadget, the Gerber Center-Drive Plus Multi-Tool with Bit Set is a fantastic option.

As you might expect, this one offers more advanced tools like the uniquely-shaped pliers. Ideally, the pliers has a sloping nose that makes it look like a hybrid between conventional pliers and a needle-nose design.

These pliers are designed in this manner to help you work in tighter areas while also allowing ample strength to grip the bolts firmly.

Gerber Center-Drive Plus Multi-Tool with Bit Set
  • Includes one 16 piece multi tool, a 12 piece standard bit set, and a premium leather sheath
  • The first multi tool on the market to offer a 3.2 center axis driver that aligns like a screwdriver
  • Sliding jaws deliver instant command of the spring loaded pliers
  • Gerber is dedicated to developing life saving, mission essential gear for those who serve
  • Proudly made in USA at Gerber's Portland, Oregon factory

Last update on 2019-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

At the base of this multi-tool, you’ll find carbide wire cutters that have also been refined. They are triangular-shaped and can be spun if they begin to get blunt. Thanks to this feature, you’ll be able to use your cutters for much longer than you would with conventional wire cutters.

However, this multi-tool gets its name from the included screwdriver. This piece of equipment is designed in such a way that creates an offset pattern extending 3.2 inches outwards.

This allows the driver to be located at the center of the hande, providing you a rotation point that is more easily accessible and one that stays securely in place alongside the fastener. Other tools included in this unit are a file, knives, awl Gerber, bottle opener and fabric sheath.

Pros

●      Includes a centerline bit driver

●      Bigger knife blade

●      Tough build

●      All locking tools

Cons

●      The fabric sheath is bulky

●      The one-handed operation of the pliers restricts interior tool space

How We Picked And Tested

When shopping, you’ll come across hundreds of multi tools; some from highly-reputable brands and others from less known companies. As a result, you might find it difficult to find the perfect device for your needs.

But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Based on our research, we were able to single out multi tools that stood out from the pack. We focused on the following aspects:

Functionality

As with any product, a multi tool for firefighters should meet your specific needs as a first responder. This means that it should have numerous features that make it suitable for the wide range of tasks you perform as a firefighter.

Whether it’s a search and rescue mission or extinguishing a fire, this multi tool should come in handy.

That said, it’s important to pick a multi tool whose mini tools are working effectively. This is because some models may have tons of equipment but with only a few of them functioning as they should.

Ergonomic Design

Whether you work part-time or full-time, becoming a firefighter is a physically-demanding job. It can take a toll on your body, especially if you’re using poorly-crafted tools.

Thus, one of the aspects we focused on was the design of these hand tools. The devices in our review are all well-designed so as to prevent you from 1) getting blisters and 2) experiencing excess strain on your hands.

Apart from preventing injuries, such tools boost your productivity. By using a piece of equipment that is ergonomically designed, you won’t have to apply as much effort meaning that you’ll be able to work faster.

Portability

As mentioned earlier, a firefighter has to haul around heavy tools as they work. Consequently, choosing bulky multi tools only adds to the amount of weight you have to carry, and this can slow you down.

To avoid this, we looked for tools that had reasonable sizes and weights. Their lightweight designs makes it possible to attach them on belts, the fire suits and other edc items. This way, they don’t take up a lot of space and they’re readily available when you need them.

Quality of Build

Since you’re probably be working in settings with extreme heat, you’ll need multi tools that can hold up to such elements. This is why we also looked at the quality of construction on each multi tool for firefighters.

We were inclined to choosing mini-tools made of stainless steel because it’s one of the toughest materials. In addition, we also checked the hinges and locking system to ensure they were well- built and positioned.

FAQs

Do multi tools rust?

Yes, they do, especially if they’re not well-cared for. This is because a good number of them are made of stainless steel. While it’s resistant to corrosion, stainless steel is not rust-proof.

Therefore, you need to perform regular maintenance if you want it to keep working optimally.

What is the correct procedure for cleaning a multi tool?

The kind of cleaning you perform will depend on the specific elements your multi tool has been exposed to.

●      If there’s any moisture lingering in the joints, use a low viscosity oil to drive it out. Good examples of viscosity oil are: WD-40, CRC 3-36 and Liquid Wrench.

●      If you’d like to maintain the lustrous nature of stained surfaces, try buffing it with a polishing cloth or non-metallic abrasive. You can use items like scotchbrite or a brush with soft bristles.

●      If dirt and sticky compounds have built up in the gaps between the blades, clean your multi tool using a solution of detergent and water. Be careful not to use a strong detergent that could damage the multi-tool surface.

●      However, keep in mind that serious stains will need a more aggressive approach. For instance, if tar has accumulated on the multi-tool, use turpentine or similar mineral-based spirits for cleaning.

●      Clean your multi tool after each use and before storing. Remember to dry it properly and lubricate it from time to time to prevent rust and corrosion. This is particularly important if your device has been exposed to salt water or an ocean environment.

What else should you do to maintain your multi tool?

Another point to note is that maintenance does not stop at cleaning. In fact, this is only half of what you need to do to ensure your multi tool is in pristine condition.

The second most important thing to do is sharpen the blades. Nearly all multi tools come with knives, wire cutters and other cutting tools. To ensure these devices continue giving you precise and smooth cuts, you’ll need to sharpen them on a regular basis.

To sharpen a straight-edged blade, you can use conventional sharpening tools like whetstones and rods.

However, sharpening a serrated blade is a little more complex. In this case, you’ll need a sharpening tool that accommodates the serrated edges. Also, you should only sharpen the serrated blades on the edged side. If you sharpen the flat section, you’ll cause the serrations to fade away, and this will affect the blade’s effectiveness.

But just how often should you sharpen the knives on your multi tool?

Well, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. It all depends on how often you use your cutting tools and what you use them for.

If you use them everyday or for heavy duty applications, you should sharpen them frequently. Take note that working with a dull blade is way more risky than using a sharp one.

If you don’t have time to sharpen or just can’t bring yourself to do it, companies like Gerber can sharpen your multi tools for you at a small fee. All you need to do is send it to your nearest Gerber plant and they’ll restore its razor-sharpness in no time.

Do multi tools for firefighters need to be waterproof?

Unless the manufacturer has specified that the piece of equipment is waterproof, there’s a good chance that it’s not. Thus, you should not expose them to moisture or wet conditions.

Are the blades in multi tools interchangeable?

No, they’re not. Every multi tool has a combination of specs that earns it the title “a multipurpose tool”. However, these blades cannot be modified or substituted with other components.

Conclusion

A multi-tool for firefighters is simply a device that can be used for numerous applications. These tools are very beneficial to firefighters as they enable them to perform their tasks more efficiently and much faster. Instead of carrying individual tools, they can carry a single equipment that has numerous functions.

LEATHERMAN - Wave Plus Multitool with Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters and Spring-Action Scissors, Stainless Steel
  • READY FOR ANYTHING: The Wave is hands down our most popular multitool. We've updated it with premium replaceable wire cutters so it can tackle tough jobs for years to come.
  • FIT MORE FUNCTIONALITY: A variety of pliers, replaceable wire cutters, wire stripper, plain and serrated knives, saw, spring-action scissors, ruler, can and bottle openers, files, and screwdrivers.
  • LET'S BE PRACTICAL: Sometimes you only have one hand to spare. The Wave Plus only requires one hand to open and use all the tools, even the ones that aren't accessible from the outside. And with all-locking blades, you can cut with confidence.
  • ALWAYS ON HAND: With its compact size and lightweight design, you can stash your Wave Plus in your pocket and always have it when you need it.
  • GUARANTEED: Our 25-year limited warranty ensures that your Leatherman will give you many years of dependable service. Just send it in and we'll fix it up. All Leatherman multitools are made and repaired right here in the USA.

Last update on 2019-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’ve been searching for the best multi tool as a firefighter or EMT, the Leatherman Wave Plus is our favorite. Though a little pricier, this gadget incorporates everything you’d need in an emergency setting. Plus, it comes with a 25-year warranty- an indication that the manufacturer has full confidence in its capability.