Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Smoke and Mirrors

I have been involved with training for a long time. One thing I have learned over the years is that training does not need to be wrapped in smoke and mirrors. It doesn't have to have a "trick" or wild and crazy obstacle courses. I see so many training officers and instructors spend so much time building almost impossible mazes, courses and drills that the purpose of the exercise is lost.

Recently we set up a new training division and basically started over with our training schedule and leadership. One of the first drills we did was a basement fire evolution. When I set up a drill I always want to make sure that there is a very specific purpose for the drill. Sometimes there are multiple take away points. If we don't get feedback based on those points, we have likely not done what we intended.

We were able to use an old house that was used as our administration building until about two years ago. The drill was simple; the captain assigns his team, get the 360 done, identify that it's a basement fire, advance the line and find the fire. The main point that we offered to the officers was line deployment for this drill. That is not lowering the importance of the other aspects of the drill, we just wanted to start with the basics of line advancement. Let's face it, we need to get water on the fire as fast as possible and if we can't get the line to the fire, we can't put it out.

There were no impediments, just pulling the line into the basement. So, the first crew runs through the drill and ends up with five guys on the nozzle. Perfectly wrong! We were able to identify this poor tactic and make positive changes. But, the challenges of pulling the line and using personnel to their benefit was identified by the crews participating in the drill. They now understood the importance of using the personnel along the line to manipulate corners and doors.

As simple as the drill was, it resulted in changes being made without "telling" firefighters that they needed to change. They realized it on their own and some really good discussion resulted as well. Were they challenged? Absolutely! Did they climb mountains and cross oceans to have to be challenged? NO! We made the drill real. We smoked it up and put them on the line. It was all we needed.

I'm not saying not to develop challenging courses. What I am trying to get across is that make these drills real and meaningful. We can do this without long set up times and the use of crazy mazes. Sometimes all we need is the hose line and a place to take it.

Don't over-complicate things. Get creative and the results you are looking for will come about. Make sure that when we do these trainings we know and understand the "why" behind the training. If we always stick to and develop our drills and classes around the "why", we should get the desired results.

Here is a quick video of what we did.

Train hard, keep it real and train to expect fire. Stay safe and thanks for reading.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Inside Balloon Frame Construction

This short clip show balloon frame construction from the inside. With Engine House Training, LLC this summer, we had the opportunity to hold a class in this building. It was going to be torn down and the interior wall coverings in most of the house had been removed. That exposed the balloon frame construction characteristics that we so often speak of but seldom have the chance to see.

Use this however you like and share it. Hopefully, this will help someone to better understand the meaning of balloon frame buildings and to ensure proper tactics are used with these structures.

Keep training and pass on your knowledge to others. Share the gift.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Firefighter Removal from Basement--Webbing Assisted

Here is a quick video of how to use a piece of webbing to assist a firefighter out of a basement window. Understand, that depending on the height of the basement, the length of webbing needed may need to be longer. A 30 foot piece of webbing tied in a loop will work for most situations. The reason the loop is used is so if the webbing slips, it wont completely slip out of your hands if your one of the firefighters pulling on the outside.

Thanks for reading and watching and train hard.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

What If........

Well, here I am and I must admit it is a bit surreal. I am proud to be a part of this blogging community and the fire service leaders that provide information and opinion here. I simply love the fire service and enjoy and feel obligated to passing it on to others. I am no expert, just a student of the fire service.

Most of my posts will be about training issues, which is my passion. As a training officer, I am frequently looking to incorporate operations into training needs and many times these ideas come from reading other news stories or blogs that sparks an idea. My primary goal is to make the basics the core of every training we conduct.

My approach to training, as is the fire service and that is "what if"? We must prepare for the inevitable "what ifs" that are going to happen at some point. Fire happens! We must expect and train for fire!

What if we don't repeatedly deploy hose lines during training? What if we don't repeatedly make our people wear packs and be on air during evolutions? What if we don't let our people conduct evolutions like a fire scene? What if during a hose deployment drill one member's low air alarm goes off and we just let him take the regulator off to finish the evolution?

What will happen is that our firefighters will get to the fire slower and expending more energy than necessary. They will not be used to operating with the bulk and weight of their SCBA in extreme conditions. Firefighters will become complacent at training and therefor will be complacent on the fire ground. When that low air alarm activates on a real call they will panic and they will revert to the habits created in training.

We must train like we play and we must require mastering the basic skills required to operate efficiently and effectively on the fire ground. As we train and practice our skills, we must keep in mind the "what if" behind every reason of what we do.

Take care, thanks for reading and keep training.