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Tips for Developing First-In Engine Company Training Evolutions

There are infinite skills and tasks that must be performed as a first-in engine company to the scene of a fire incident.  Skills and tasks can range from hoseline selection and deployment to size-up to hand tool selection and everything in between.  We could spend countless hours and time engaging in practical training evolutions on each one alone.  How can we develop a training evolution that encompasses multiple essential tasks?  I’m sure you’re thinking we do this all time so what makes this any different?  The key is creating the training evolutions that add value to the entire company.  Consider the following training evolution that includes multiple tasks that would be performed from leaving the fire station to making initial entry on a structure.  Keep in mind for the sake of value and time this application utilizes all engine riding positions for the first arriving engine company.

            The company officer, prior to conducting the training evolution, should plan a scenario that simulates a given fire condition and selecting a predetermined location or occupancy type for response.  Use the following tips to help guide your building of a practical application training evolution:

  • Company officer will select a location/occupancy type within your first due response territory.

  • Apparatus operator will find location on wall map or in map book to determine fastest, safety and most efficient route to scene.  Apparatus operator will also locate and select closest water supply, anticipate appropriate apparatus positioning and ensure giving the company officer at least two views of structure upon making the scene. 

  • Company officer, when arriving at location, will select from pre-made fire conditions card (can be made from note cards with various conditions, descriptors, etc.) and proceed to give a clear, concise, effective size-up.

  • Firefighter riding in the jump seat, upon knowing the size-up conditions, will select proper equipment to include hand tools, water can and hoseline selection amongst other essential tasks.

  • Once the initial strategy and tactics are determined, all positions can work to ensure other secondary tasks are performed to include, but not limited to, PPV fan placement, ladder selection and placement, scene lighting, etc.

In conducting this type of training evolution the apparatus operator practices map reading skills, territory familiarization and driving skills.  The company officer practices communication and decision-making skills and the firefighter practices the essential skills that sharpen their job functions.

      It is important to remember that even though the drills are basic, we must always practice going back to the basics.  Going back to the basics ensures first arriving engine company functions set the tone for the entire operation as it progresses.  The practical application evolutions should be tailored to fit your organization based on SOPs/SOGs, riding assignments, staffing levels and be of added value in developing team dynamics and cohesion to ensure effective, efficient and safe company operations.

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