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What are the top survival skills taught by your department to all of your members? I have been advocating the following as MUST KNOW skills for all firefighters for a while now and am curious to see if anyone is adding to this list or doing anything more. Attached is a Fire Engineering Company Drill I wrote on this topic for your use.

Top 10 Survival Skills

1. Don SCBA in 60 sec or Less
2. Activate/Reset PASS devices
3. Emergency SCBA check procedures
4. Low Profile or SCBA dumping
5. Alternative air supply
6. Wire entanglement
7. MAYDAY procedures
8. Handcuff knot
9. Wall Breeching/Escapes
10. Self-Rescue Techniques

Take a look at the handout for some background and suggested performance levels.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for helping out Mike!
Great Ray, had a single family here last week, probably 1/2 the crews ran across some type of wire or other hanging crap. We use the 60 sec. donning as a performance standard to keep folks in the mindset to be able to quickly react to calls for help and mastery of scba use is key to all other skills.

I agree and further support the separation of self-help skills, partner rescue skills, RIT member skills, I/C skills for all.
It's not about splitting hairs, all of those important skills should be broken down into catagories, possibily a pyramid- Agreed. Any drill that gets firefighters more familiar with their SCBA is valuable. I like a timed blind assembly drill, really helps you get to know the SCBA
One thing that the Indiana Firefighter Training System currently did was to supply a mobile FF Safety and Survival Prop to each training district in the state. This is a mobile prop that contains 12 different drills that can be delivered to any department any where free of charge. My wish is that every FF in Indiana will have the opportunity to drill on these skills that may one day save their life. If you are in town next week for FDIC and would like to see this prop let me know. My department is approx 15 due south of downtown Indy.

Stay Safe!

While conducting RIT training a few years ago, we toyed with the handcuff knot and came up with a "four pull, double handcuff" knot that leaves four lines to pull instead of two. I'll try to get some pictures in the next few days. If you have the manpower, the four line double handcuff is great. Additionally, hose lines both charged and uncharged have been modified with great success.

I am an advocate of getting "Back to Basics" and "Fireground Chemistry". Knowing your job, the job of your counterparts and knowing how fire effects/affects (never know which is appropriate) the fireground is the best survival training a fireman can receive.
With that said, all these skills listed should be able to be performed flawlessly by everyone that is approved to wear an airpack. Fact is these are the skills that we very rarely train on and hopefully will never have to use when our lives depend on it.

Question for you to ponder as I will create another discussion for the following:

What do you (or your department) do with firemen that are unable to complete/pass the drills/skills you teach?? Do you have a policy/program in place for firemen that fail to meet the standard your department requires (i.e.: FF I / II skills, Self rescue, FAST, Tactical Rescue, Vehicle rescue, etc...). Link to discussion:


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