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.

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