October simulation: Garage fire

Simulation by CommandSim, Incident Tactics and Battalion Chief Frank Montagna, FDNY



It is just after 7a.m. on a hot, humid Saturday. Recent weather has been warm and dry. The wind is coming from the South at 5mph.

911 dispatch has received a call reporting smoke coming from the garage of a neighbor’s house. The neighbor believes there is no one home…


This scenario is not intended to be a game. It is a ready-to-go training tool that can be used by any fire department or fire company in the classroom or on the office computer. It doesn’t matter what your manning is, nor what type of apparatus you have. You can use this simulation, today, to train your firefighters and officers.

There is an instruction sheet that you should download. These instructions explain how to change the views on the screen. You can change them to suit your lesson. You can make the fire a quick knockdown or one that presents various problems for the students to overcome. By hitting the appropriate key, the action changes and, as you switch from view to view, the changes you have initiated will be evident in the new view. Gut this is only part of the training package. A sample exercise sequence is provided to give you an idea of how to make use of the simulation.

There is also an accompanying document that reviews the 13-point size-up of this fire, as well as other considerations. It does not assume your manpower or specific apparatus; rather, it just describes the tasks that must be done to safely extinguish the fire and save life when possible. How you extinguish the fire depends on your manpower, your apparatus, your water supply, and your standard tactics.

There is more. You can go to the this forum post and tell us how your department would deal with the fire problem based on your manpower, apparatus, and training. Here you can also read how other departments would attack this fire. You can, in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, compare your tactics with those of other departments and discuss how and why you do it a particular way. You may pick up some worthwhile ideas and you may give insight to others.

There is no need to purchase an expensive simulation program or to spend hours building a fire scenario. With the instruction sheet in hand, and after reviewing the hazards and discussing the incident in the forum, you can run the scenario right from the Internet in your fire station or training center. You run it as a live scenario, giving your firefighters, company officers, and incident commanders a chance to make fireground decisions and practice their fireground communications in a safe environment. No one gets hurt and everyone learns.

Here are some ways you can use the scenario:

  • Have them give a mock size-up, just as if they were transmitting it to dispatch
  • As the scenario progresses, they can “transmit” a progress report
  • What resources would they request?
  • Let your firefighters explain where they would go, how they would get there and what they would do. Show the various views of the building and ask “What information would you relay to the incident commander from this exposure?”
  • Tell the incident commander that the pump operator reports a dead hydrant and ask “What do you do now?”
  • Transmit a Mayday from a trapped firefighter and ask “What does the IC do?” Who does he contact? How does plan to get you out?


The possibilities are virtually endless. By changing your verbal inputs to the student, or by hitting a different sequence of key strokes, you can create an entirely different scenario. Perhaps next time he has a burst length and there is no Mayday message. Instead, a victim is found in the top floor rear bedroom. What radio communications would ensue? What actions need to be taken? Maybe there is a gas fed fire in the basement. What does the incident commander do? How about a floor collapse? Get the idea?

There is more you can do with this easy to use training tool. You are only limited by your imagination.

This scenario is not intended to be a game.  It is a ready-to-go training tool that can be used by any fire department or fire company.  It doesn’t matter what your manning is, nor what type of apparatus you have.


How to Launch the Simulation

Once the simulation starts, use the navigation arrows (right) to move from location to location. To evolve the conditions (“states”), press any of the keystrokes from the chart below or the accompanying document.

Note: You may press any keystroke at any time, based on how your team responds–you do not have to follow the conditions sequentially.

Important: This exercise requires you to have installed the Adobe Flash Player plug-in, version 8 or higher. You can examine the current version installed on your machine by CLICKING HERE. If you do not have version 8 or higher, you can CLICK HERE to download and install it (less than 1 minute on a DSL connection).

Before You Start:


  1. Determine the lesson or lessons you want to teach.
  2. Review the size-up sheet and sample exercise sequence sheet.
  3. Review the discussions on the forum. (This is optional, but it might give you some good ideas on how to maximize the learning experience.)
  4. Review the various stages of the fire on the control sheet.
  5. Decide which fire stages you will use.
  6. Write down the sequence of numbers and letters in the order you want to use them.
  7. Make any necessary notations in the notes column.
  8. Start training.


Scenario Training Tips


  1. You can play the part of the dispatcher, the firefighters inside and around the building, and the civilians. The trainee must respond to your communications as if he were on the fireground.
  2. You can change the intended order of the scenario based on the decisions made by the trainee.
  3. You can, by your communications, drive the scenario to your intended conclusion.
  4. Have the trainee give you a detailed size-up at various stages of the fire.
  5. Provide problems that need to be overcome such as: burst hose length or dry hydrant, victim discovered inside building, trapped or injured firefighter.
  6. Ask where lines and ladders should be placed.
  7. Let the firefighters tell you what they would do and where they would go.
  8. Keep track of the trainee’s responses, calls for assistance, tactics and actions. You can use them for a review once the scenario is completed.
  9. To keep it real, stay in character and have the trainee do the same. Alternatively, you can stop at any point to critique an action and put the trainee onto the right track.
  10. If manpower is available, you can have role players take the part of firefighters and/or civilians to deliver messages to the trainee.
  11. In real fire situations, the Incident Commander IC) is often overloaded with communications, some crucial and others just an annoyance. Try to replicate this overload to give your IC trainees realistic training.


Accompanying Documents

We strongly suggest that you download the following documents to help you conduct your exercises (all in pdf format):







The scenario and accompanying materials have been designed by Frank Montagna, Battalion Chief, FDNY. The technical development and production has been a joint effort between CommandSim and Incident Tactics. All materials may not be copied or distributed without the expressed, written permission of Fire Engineering and the PennWell Corporation, copyright 2007, all rights reserved.

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