When it's your job to keep firefighters on their toes, you've got to come up with a variety of firefighting training ideas. It's not easy being a working woman in such a male-dominated field, especially as a training program manager or officer. But if you take the time to understand the situations your firefighters face, you can help them prepare much better. Firefighters might need training in several areas, from proper use of equipment to hazmat training to properly deal with chemicals and hazardous materials.
Before a firefighter begins to learn how to fight fires, she must first know how to use her equipment. The training might begin by learning firefighting terminology and acronyms in a classroom setting, then practicing putting on personal protective equipment, taking it off, and storing it properly. When firefighters face toxic environments inside burning buildings, they must know how to put on their own self-contained breathing apparatuses in just a few minutes. A training scenario called SCBA Poker allows firefighting teams to compete against each other in locating a winning hand of poker cards in a simulated burning building. The training includes taking off and putting on a breathing apparatus and refilling as needed.
Timed Training and Drills
Municipal fire departments handle a lot of fires in buildings with multiple floors. Besides being able to physically manage heavy PPE, a firefighter also needs to learn ladder safety, hose bed layouts and hooking up hoses to water hydrants or to the fire truck. Rural firefighters require training on utilizing water tanker trucks and establishing portable ponds for pumping water when water supplies are limited. In certain situations, fires move fast, so training ideas that include timed scenarios help firefighters reduce the amount of time it takes to hook up equipment or set up needed supplies for fighting fires. Drills keep firefighters physically fit and help them develop familiarity with their hand and power tools.
Training ideas that include practice fires allow firefighters to gain experience working directly with fire in a controlled setting. Old buildings or homes donated for fire department use make excellent resources for firefighting practice. House and building fires offer firefighters the chance to work in a simulation that lets them learn real-world skills. Simulations can also include controlled field or brush fires to help firefighters learn about hot-air updrafts, wind effects on fire, and the way in which fires smolder undetected in areas covered with leaves before being detected.
Fire departments located where companies use or transport hazardous materials require specialized hazmat training. Setting up hazmat training helps firefighters develop the skills needed for accidents involving hazardous chemicals. This training might also include other public safety officials such as law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians and hospital personnel. A local fairground offers the perfect place to conduct this type of training. Fairgrounds usually have a large enough area out of the way of regular traffic.
- Illinois General Assembly: Joint Committee on Administrative Rules – Administrative Code
- FireTrainingToolbox.com: Poker Drill
- FireTrainingToolbox.com: The Basics and Standardization
- The Livingston County News: Firefighters Pump Water From Farmers Pond
- YouTube: GTFD8215 Awesome Firefighter Training Video Live Burn House
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: HazMat Emergency Preparedness Training and Tools for Responders
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.