Drills, Firefighter Training

FireEngineering.com Weekly Drills

Welcome to FireEngineering.com’s new Weekly Drill section. Based on Howard A. Chatterton’s book, Volunteer Training Drills-A Year of Weekly Drills (published by Fire Engineering), the drills you find here are summaries of Chatterton’s weekly drills that fire departments can conduct during the span of a year.

Each week you’ll find a new drill summary. As you’ll see, conducting a drill is not as simple as assembling a group of firefighters, giving them a quick rundown of what is to take place, and then telling them to have at it. To properly conduct a drill, a good deal of planning is required, including figuring the logistics of the drill, choosing a location, ensuring you’re allowed to use the location, and evaluating the safety of the location, just to name a few.

Before commencing with the drills, it’s important to go over some guidelines for the training officer and safety officers. According to Chatterton, ensuring safety is key. “A drill is a controlled situation. You must provide that control,” he comments.

First, some basics:

  1. Use the incident command system. If you use it routinely, it will become automatic in your operations.
  2. For every drill, establish a signal whereby everyone stops in place when the training officer or safety officer sounds the signal. Chatterton suggests a whistle.
  3. Be prepared to establish and enforce a rule prohibiting horseplay during a drill.
  4. Control spectators by establishing a spectator area.
  5. Think carefully about the location of your drill.
  6. Think carefully about your drill’s location again.
  7. Consider the weather.
  8. Assign a safety officer (SO). Provide the SO with a checklist for monitoring the drill. Use it at every drill and improve on it.
  9. Have a plan for each drill and do not deviate from it.
  10. Consider the hazards inherent to the drill.
  11. Read the outline and reference material ahead of time.
  12. Live burns should only be conducted in a fire training facility under the guidance of certified instructors.
  13. Consider posting signs reading “Fire Department Training.”
  14. Have a backup drill ready to go in case of a problem with the weather, location, or expected guest speaker.

Safety Officer Checklist

A drill safety officer’s checklist should include the following items but can include more, depending on the drill you are conducting:

  • Weather
  • Safety Apparel
  • Tools
  • Apparatus
  • Spectators
  • Member Safety
  • Lifting and Ladders

The training officer should assign additional safety officers as needed.

For more information on the above items and an expanded safety officer checklist, visit http://store.yahoo.com/pennwell/voltraindril.html to purchase Volunteer Training Drills-A Year of Weekly Drills.

FireEngineering.com Drill of the Week Archive