In the words of one instructor at FDIC 2004, “We spend a lot of time training to save civilians. We need to start training more to save our own.” Firefighter safety and survival is a significant theme at FDIC. Search proficiency is a big part of safety and survival. This week’s drill covers procedures for using SCBA and developing proficiency in its use. To achieve this proficiency, members will be timed as they don their protective gear including SCBA and will search a room in the dark while identifying certain obstacles as they come upon them. Howard A. Chatterton, in his Volunteer Training Drills-A Year of Weekly Drills, states, “Over the years, there have been many fatalities as a result of firefighters becoming separated from the hoseline, getting lost, and running out of air.” There are no trick hazards in this exercise. The purpose is to build members’ level of skill and comfort with SCBA.
Setup time for this drill is the approximately 30 minutes required to set up the search room. Materials required include: SCBA with PASS device; two sections of hose plus a nozzle; halligan tool, broom, miscellaneous tools, and baby-sized doll; chairs, table; clipboard and paper to record the starting and finishing air bottle pressures; and a stopwatch.
Running the Drill
Begin by reviewing a checklist for donning SCBA. Chatterton includes a sample checklist, but use whatever checklist your department uses. Next, time the members as they don their gear. Stop the clock when all gear is in place and members are breathing air. Remember to make sure their PASS device is also on, for SCBA that do not have integrated PASS devices.
Have members remove the SCBA and turnout gear, placing the equipment at their feet and turning their back on it. While their backs are turned, loosen the high-pressure air line connection, open the bypass and main line valves, and tighten one strap. You’ll conduct the donning drill again, but now members have hopefully learned a valuable lesson–always check your SCBA before donning it to ensure you won’t be surprised when you turn on the bottle. Don’t forget to keep time again.
The final part of the drill is practicing a search. Cover each member’s face piece. Record air bottle pressures. Have each member enter the search room and begin a search. When a member comes across a tool, have the member identify it by feel. When the searcher comes upon the hoseline, he should follow it to the first coupling, idtentify the coupling and the direction to follow the hoseline out. Before exiting, the member should demonstrate the technique for removing the bottle to clear an entanglement and for sliding the bottle under his left arm to go through a narrow opening. The member completes the drill when exiting the search room. Record the air bottle temperature.
At the end of the drill, gather members together. Inquire as to what part of the drill caused them the most difficulty. Announce who used the least air and review breathing techniques– i.e., breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. If you feel your breathing getting too rapid, slow down, get it under control, and start moving again.
To review training officer and safety officer considerations, visit http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticles&SubSection=HOME&PUBLICATION_ID=25&ARTICLE_ID=202453 to review training officer and safety officer considerations.
For more information on this drill, including a list of references and a drawing of an Adams Rite Lock Demonstrator, visit http://store.yahoo.com/pennwell/voltraindril.html to purchase Volunteer Training Drills–A Year of Weekly Drills.