Its 3 in the afternoon you get dispatched for a working fire in a single family dwelling. You get there and find that there is a working fire in ranch style house unknown entrapment, but your next in help is still 15 minutes out, you and your crew of 3 are all you have in the meantime.
Are you up for it?
Have you trained the way you will be playing?
Training the way we play that’s something that I have heard a lot from some of the best in the business. But for small towns this creates a new issue and one that we often never look at. What is training the way we play to many that means searching while on air from SCBA, dragging out dummies that are not baby dolls, stretching lines off the blacktop and in the front yard. But what about staffing.
Think about your last fire that you went on, how many dudes did you have on the rig with you?
We often times in small volunteer departments don’t have the staffing that they have in larger departments but when we have training we tend to have more dudes at the drill than at a real incident. Think about it, we often train and what do we do, if the rig holds 6 (4 in the back 2 up front) we fill them, but then on a run at 1 in the morning we have maybe 3 or 4 total at best, are we helping ourselves when we do that?
NO you’re hurting yourselves really.
Why is that you say, because you’re not going to have them at 1 in the morning are you; so how are you going to know how to do your job with the crew you bring when all you have trained with are unrealistic numbers for you runs that you get.
Think about it, we respond with a bare minimum but we train as if we have the entire brigade if you will, so how is that going to help at all with anything. You know we are always discussing how the military elite teams like seal teams and delta force etc. are small sound units that can do things with a handful of dudes that some need much larger forces, so why is that? I would feel safe saying they train a TON with what they have not the entire division, why because they won’t have them out in the wilds of whatever country they get sent. They operate with small numbers they train with small numbers, yet when we are in the fire service we don’t train like this. Many will say we have to train dudes and if they are at drill let’s get them in but again
So how do you keep your crews happy at training and keep it educational without having them all do work at the same time?
Stations are great tools in small departments. Let’s say you want to go over nozzle work and advancement. You can do a station for nozzle styles your department uses, a station to cover stretching from the truck the yard, and finally a station from yard to seat of fire and back to the truck etc.
Let’s say you want to do ventilation a station that covers saws and chains/blades, a station for tools that will be needed for the job and getting them off the truck to the roof (some don’t know where they are on the truck) and a station about sounding the roof and then making the cut.
You can go on and on and stations are just one option. Another would be watch and evaluation of the group before, using this allows for peer support and peer evaluation to help build the men up so they learn together at the same time. The thing with this is by the last group they should be very smooth and less problematic.
At the end of the day its ultimately going to be up to you and your department to make sure your getting the most of your training but also that you don’t train with unrealistic numbers that you won’t have at any given time besides if you can do well with 3 or so imagine what you can do with say 6. Train often, train well, but train the way you play.
Photos from Brandon Wyant and Brian Mattson. Thanks fellas.