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I am looking for some assistance, I am an officer at an all volunteer fire department with approximately 30 active personnel and yet only about six show up to the weekly training drills, quite frankly I am about tired of seeing the same faces, yet when the pager goes off they all want to get on the big red truck.  While yes, some of them do work, and I understand the fire company comes after themselves and their families, I would like to see some new faces at drills.  We are a two engine company in a small community, and I am looking for some new and fun ideas to attempt to bring in more personnel.  We have started a back to basics training program to influence everyone, just looking for ideas to make the basics training better or other more advanced training, including some of those fun type drills which still enhance skills yet everyone has fun.  Thanks in advance!

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It may sound corny, but I’ve used playgrounds in my town to do firefighter training. The small openings simulate studs and can be used for reduced profiles; the tubes simulate collapses, etc….. What I have done in the past was run 100 feet of 1 3/4” through the entire playground area and charge it. Than would have the FFs mask up and put their hoods on backwards to reduce visibility, that tell them to get out. This is an all in one training to practice FF safety and Air Management. Plus it is something way different than then they are used to. It may even turn into a competition to see who comes out with the most air remaining. What I have found is do something real different and you may find that you get a couple more members to show up. Good Luck.

I am a fan of using "firematics" evolutions.  There are many sources and videos available, but I'll give a hat tip to Florida State Firefighter's Association (FSFA) for having one of the best write-ups on the web:  FSFA Firematic Rule Book.

The skills are core and we run them in full PPE (no SCBA).

I use the playground drill in ALL of my basic FF training and it is always a huge hit.  The students enjoy themselves, yet start to understand the importance of air management.  I've had several members of my all volunteer department observe the exercise and comment that they would love to do this with the membership.  Give it a try. 
 
Richard Michitsch said:

It may sound corny, but I’ve used playgrounds in my town to do firefighter training. The small openings simulate studs and can be used for reduced profiles; the tubes simulate collapses, etc….. What I have done in the past was run 100 feet of 1 3/4” through the entire playground area and charge it. Than would have the FFs mask up and put their hoods on backwards to reduce visibility, that tell them to get out. This is an all in one training to practice FF safety and Air Management. Plus it is something way different than then they are used to. It may even turn into a competition to see who comes out with the most air remaining. What I have found is do something real different and you may find that you get a couple more members to show up. Good Luck.
My suggestion would be to go out into your first due area and pull lines and do other engine company operation drills in the buildings in your area. Give your crew a scenario and go through the motion go to a apartment building or high rise or even find an abandoned building and do this. You get a lot done other engine drill you get out into you first due and learn it.

If you need any other ideas or topic email me at jamesmcclelland@firegrountacticsandsolution.com

Good luck

I agree with Jimmy. There is no substitute for a bread and butter, straightforward, first due engine company evolution. It takes 15 minutes on the way back from a call - tell the crew to get dressed, pull up to a building, and initiate your operations! Position the apparatus, perform a size up, stretch the handline, charge the handline, mask up, bleed the line down...simply performing the first 2 minutes of operations will give you and your crew lots to talk about, and most likely, lots to improve upon. The company I am in charge of performs drills such as these very regularly, and we still find things to improve upon every single time. You can never be too proficient at performing our most basic job functions.

Just like football.....if you don't practice, you don't play.

Nick
While I love that philosophy we all know how tough it is for a volunteer company not necessarily due to any other reasons but work schedules especially now in this economy. While I agree that there are others who don't show up for many more reasons of course they themselves should be dealt with on an individual basis. We are simply looking to basically stir the pot so to speak and create many different yet fun and relatable drills rather than the usual pulling handlines in a wide open parking lot with no experience if moving through cars and such.

Ziggy, here's a few ideas....

  1. With a group of your members, grab the county's training catalog and ask the members in your department what 3 hour modules they would like to host at your station. Create a list, request the classes through the training center, then put them on a training calender in the station where everyone will see them and be reminded of upcoming classes. Just about every topic in the fire service has these short refresher type modules available.
  2. On that same calendar, list the names of a few target hazard buildings in the area and schedule tours of those buildings with maintenance or some other building rep that knows the ins & outs of the building and it's utilities etc. While you are there you can have a verbal discussion about apparatus placement, ground ladders, access, RIT difficulties, etc 
  3. IN a classroom setting, put a picture of a building in your local up on the board, give them hypothetical fire and smoke conditions and discuss tactics.

Kevin

Chief

Thanks for the ideas I will definitely try them!

Kevin has the same plan that our department follows. The only exception is that we do have "follow-up" training days in which we will follow-up that following Saturday with the same drill for those that missed the trainings on Mondays. Theoretical and Table-top exercises are a hit, as interaction is the key. Keep it practical, keep it simple. Our philosophy.....make the training relevant and realistic to whatever training topic tends to be covered. Good discussion...keep the ideas coming! 

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