Firefighter Training Drill: The Survival Essentials - PASS

Firefighter training drill by Forest Reeder

The next stop in the Survival Essentials series has you and your crews discussing the personal alert safety system (PASS) device. Once considered a nuisance on the fireground, the technology of these life-saving devices has reduced the false-alarm rates significantly. A firefighter in distress should not hesitate to activate the PASS as part of the survival essentials process. You'll find similar responses to the When will you activate your PASS to the response you put in the "When will you call a MAYDAY" from the previous drill, and that is OK. This reinforces the survival essentials sequence: know when you are in trouble, know what to say, and know what to do. In this drill, discuss these steps in sequence:

  • Identify a hazardous condition or situation
  • Call the MAYDAY
  • Activate your PASS
  • React and DO something to improve your situation

Also consider situations and actions that will require the PASS to be reset or silenced. Emphasize the important survival essential that if you are in trouble and trying to escape, the PASS will lead rescuers to your location and you DO NOT WANT TO WAIT for the PASS to go into alarm mode, it needs to be sounding to alert anyone around you that your are in trouble. Some best practices to highlight:

  • ALWAYS react to a sounding PASS device as if it's an emergency
  • Confirm the reason for activation as soon as possible -Reset before transmitting updates or information on the radio
  • Reset upon reaching a firefighter in distress to allow for better communication

As a skill builder, bring a PASS to the discussion, and review the proper operation of your PASS with your crews. Consult your SCBA or PASS manufacturers information for details on all operations of the PASS.

Download this week's drill as a PDF HERE.

Firefighting drills by Forest ReederForest Reeder began his fire service career in 1979. He currently serves as Division Chief of Training & Safety for the Des Plaines (IL) Fire Department. He is a past recipient of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) prestigious George D. Post Instructor of the Year award and has been responsible for the design, implementation and coordination of in-service firefighter training activities as well as a full-service fire training academy program. Forest holds numerous Illinois fire service certifications and holds a Masters Degree in Public Safety Administration from Lewis University.

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