By Tom Kiurski
Not every training evolution will have your firefighters thrilled and wanting to have you over to the station for cake and ice cream. Sometimes, it is just a short, back-to-basics drill that serves as an excellent refresher for a few basic skills. In this evolution, we used a house that was set for demolition to conduct a few basic skill refresher drills. The house was the same one we used for evolutions described in a previous article, so our firefighters were a little familiar with the layout in the small house. It turned out that we had the house for an additional week before demolition, so I put together a refresher drill.
This drill was set during the month of July, a warm and sticky month almost anywhere in the United States. I wanted to keep the amount of time firefighters spent in full personal protective equipment (PPE) down to a minimum, so I arrived early and set up the fire truck at the house and supply line down to the hydrant. I would have a member run the pump so that we could focus on a two-person evolution without getting involved in running a pump and supplying the truck with water. A small fire was made with straw in a burn barrel on cinder blocks in a bedroom. A backup water supply was available for instructor use.
This evolution was going to be a quick fire attack scenario using the thermal imaging camera (TIC), allowing all members to get some hands-on time. I had the firefighters form two teams and gear up in full PPE and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). At the front porch, I told them their assignment was fire attack with the aid of a TIC. I had them advance into the front living room, pull some hose, and do a “time out” in the corner of the living room.
Once they were inside and in the living room corner, I joined the team and had them follow a few simple instructions to get used to the TIC. They pointed the TICs at the front door, noting the blackness of the outside of the door, as it had to remain partially open to allow the charged hoseline to enter. They then followed me around the room, locating the hall closet, a bedroom, and the stairs leading up. Finally they found the white-hot bedroom off the back of the living room. They were then told to enter the back bedroom and get the hose to the window in the room.
Once inside the room, I had the firefighter on the nozzle play with the nozzle for 30 seconds. They were instructed to use all of the settings and fog patterns available on our nozzles. The other firefighter was to use the TIC and see the way the hot room looks through the TIC’s lens. After 30 seconds, they were told to switch positions so that both teams got some nozzle time and some TIC time in a hot room. Once completed, they were told to take the hose and TICs outside.
This training day was scheduled with all-morning training sessions, with back-to-back teams of two entering until all personnel were through. The help of the shift commander allowed companies to fill in as companies were called out on incidents, and they returned after the incident was over. This kept us out of the extreme heat of the July afternoon. Coolers with water on ice were a welcome sight for firefighters doffing their PPE after finishing the evolution. This short and sweet drill got out hands on our PPE, SCBA, TICs, and let firefighters get some nozzle time with a charged hoseline. What more could you ask for?
(1) Here, a firefighter with full PPE and SCBA scans a room with a fire barrel in it with a thermal imaging camera, learning what a typical hot room looks like through the TIC.
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book, Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999), is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.