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I was wondering how other departments educate their personnel on fire behavior. I use to do the old boring essentials slides but these were pretty worthless. In February I started a new hybrid program that combined a lot of different ideas. It seemed that our personnel now have a better understanding of the pre cursors. Which in my opinion is what matters. Who cares if they know what a back draft looks like if they are in any type of extreme fire behavior I pray they can come tell me about it. Teach them what to look for before it is too late. Please let me know what you think or how you handle this training.

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For our recruit training we still begin with slides and lecture combined with videos from different sites. But in the end there is no substitute for Live Fire training. Our academy only has 7 days of live fire training and I'm still fighting for more. Firefighters are different than any other type of students that we will ever teach. They learn best when they can see it, touch it, feel it, lick it, smell it, etc.......not just from a book or media presentations. It still blows me away that some Chiefs and departments are against Live Fire training, where do they think their guys are getting the experience if they're not participating in training that isn't as close to the real deal as safely possible? They're not! And when members of their department get hurt because they lacked the Live Fire experience, they need to look in the mirror to see who is responsible.
Thanks for the feedabck, I couldn't agree more. Out of curiosity what type of live burns do you do? Here there is alot of gas fired training. I think class A burns are the best but the powers that be feel that the gas fired is safer.
I have found that some of your best training materials can be found in the fire dynamics material used to teach fire investigators. Their training is always based on science. Their training fires are very well documented. I want my people to be able to look at a burning building and tell be what is the fire doing. What are the tempertures?. Is the fire ventilation limited? I want someone to be able to tell me "This is what I see, This is what I need to do, and This is what will happen when I do it." I hope this helps
For us it's mostly class A fires in a fixed burn facility with the occasional acquired structure. We have a gas fired trainer but it's limited in it's use because of it's disneyland type fires. It is by far the least beneficial type of live fire training. The fixed burn facility gets the most use and provides decent fires, but the most realistic is still acquired structures. Any of these must be done with a qualified and experienced instructors before they are beneficial.
Don't forget to teach them how to read the smoke.
What are these different ideas you're using in class.
I have preached that firefighters, especially the company officers have knowledge on three key topics. Fire Behavior, understand your enemy and how it will react and more importantly, why. Building Construction, have as much knowledge as possible about the containers in which you are about to enter or in which you do your work in. Know the building methods and feature that can cause you to have a bad day. Self survival techniques and procedures, save your own butt. I have used an extensive amount of YouTube videos and find that the students are more receptive to this type of training. The Flashover containers also provide an extensive amount of information on fire behavior and the best part is, you can live it and experience it. This is a topic that usually gets little respect. I feel this is wrong and that a moderate level of fire behavior should be demonstrated by all firefighters and especially the company officers. Make it fun and remember that firefighters like to burn stuff (within reason...)
Thanks for all the feedback. I hope to get some videos of the demos and the ppt up soon.
Here is the powerpoint for those that were interested. Still working on how to upload the rest.
In a nut shell these different ideas, is all about demonstrating all aspects in small scale and working up. A lot of the information is from FFP/IFSTA book entitled 3D Firefighting. Basically we start with pyrolisis and work up to creating a controlled flashover, back draft, smoke explosion, etc. Historically I had used the IFSTA stuff and tried to make sure they knew what a back draft, flashover, etc. were. Now, I could really care less if they can identify the difference between these extreme fire phenenomena, since they will all severely injure if not kill them. What really matters is understanding the sequence of events that occur prior to these catastrophic events and understanding why they occur in order to act appropriately to prevent or slow their occurence so that they can retreat and survive. Also we have used Dave Dodson's art of reading smoke DVD and incorporate the smoke conditions that they see into the class. What is kind of difficult is teaching to follow Dave's advice about not looking at the flames while doing a size up but remembering how important flame type and fire conditions are once they are inside.
The US has been "accused" of not studying the "Science of Fire" and more and more folks are starting to realize that this may be more true than we want to believe. Undoubtedly many firefighters are very well versed in fire attack but in some cases this is more of a mechanical process; how to advance the hose, operate the nozzle, etc. But some folks question as to whether there is a good understanding of what fire really is, and thus, how we can control and extinguish it. Today's fires bear absolutely no resemblence to the fires of "yesterday" due to the high prevalence of synthetics (basically solid gasoline) . This fire load gives off 200-300% more heat, releases it much quicker (heat release rate) and produces tons of thick, toxic, highly flammable smoke. It has been estimated that couch can produce 550,000 BTU's of heat when it burns. And tests show a couch will be about 75% consumed by fire in 3-4 minutes. That's a lot of heat being released in a very short period of time. And if this wasn't bad enough, these fires are occurring in air tight structures where little if any heat from the fire can escape. Today's thermo panes windows don't readily self vent. Flashovers, backdrafts, have almost become the norm rather than the exception, all due to the fireload of today that is within today's energy efficient (aka airtight) structures.
We put together a short video tape that was intended to help educate firefighters as to what fire is. It's posted at where it can easily be viewed and/or downloaded.
Good luck and hope this helps.
We did the same thing. I created a fire control class that emphasizes fire behavior and building construction into the program which is more realistic to what you are doing with "fire control". It has worked out pretty well so far.

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