Apartment Fire Simulation

Smoke condition in stairwell

By Ted Nee

Simulations can be highly effective training tools. They are especially effective for training “Soft” skills such as decision making. Soft skills are often referred to as the three Rs: Reading, Recognizing and Reacting. Reading is seeing the critical cues at an incident, things like building constructionfire dynamics, and the rescue profile. Recognizing is perceiving a pattern based on the critical cues observed. Finally, reacting is choosing a course of action that is likely to affect the outcome of the incident based on your prior experience with similar events. Naturalistic decision-making researcher Gary Klein describes this process as Recognition Primed Decision Making or RPD. To develop these “soft skills” it is necessary to gain experience in a wide variety of incident situations. Training with incident simulations is one way to accomplish this.

In this month’s apartment fire simulation, you are the Engine 1 officer and will be first due at the incident. You are in quarters when the following dispatch comes in: “Engine 1, Engine 2, Engine 3, Ladder 1, and Battalion 1 respond to 2902 Cantata Street at the Cantata apartments. We have a reported structure fire.”

The Cantata apartments were constructed in 2012 of lightweight wood framing with a stucco exterior. The pitched roof assembly is covered in cement tiles. The apartment buildings consist of six units with a single-story apartment at each end and four two-story apartments in between. Each apartment has an attached garage on side Charlie.

Start the apartment fire simulation video above. You will be prompted to pause the video and give a radio report at several key points.

The first radio transmission you will provide is a standard size-up report. This radio report should include the following elements:

  • Arrival on scene
  • Building area/size
  • Building height (number of stories)
  • Problem description
  • Action being taken (assignments for the E-1 crew)
  • Assume and name command
  • Any resource needs

As the Engine 1 officer, you will conduct a quick 360° survey of this building while your crew makes a “quick hit” on the fire and stretches the initial attack line.

You will be prompted to pause the video and make an assignment when additional units report on scene. Practice giving assignments using the Task, Location, Objective (TLO) format. An example assignment might be: “Ladder 1 pull a second handline from Engine 1, (Task) go to the first floor (Location), get an “all clear,” and check for fire extension.” (Objective)

When Battalion 1 arrives on scene, make a command transfer using your department’s standard command transfer process (if applicable).

Formulate Conditions, Actions, Needs (C.A.N.) reports for the assigned units based on the visible conditions and information provide when prompted to do so.

Finally, have Battalion 1 give an assignment to Engine 3 using the TLO format based on the C.A.N. reports from the assigned units.

The most effective way to use the simulation is to get feedback regarding your performance (have an experienced officer or colleague critique your radio reports) and run through the simulation again, incorporating the feedback.

More fire training simulations: http://www.fireengineering.com/training/fire-simulations.html

Ted NeeTed Nee is a 34-year veteran of the fire and emergency services. He joined the Albuquerque (NM) Fire Depart­ment (AFD) in 1983. He retired from the AFD at the rank of deputy chief. After his service with the AFD Ted served as the lead command instructor and command training center coordinator for the Emergency Response Organization at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque for nine years. Ted is a Blue Card Command type IV and V Incident Commander and a Blue Card Command Instructor. Ted is currently teaching Fire Studio 6 Essentials and Advance Simulation Concepts workshops across North America. Ted is the co-author of the Fire Engineering DVD “Fire Dynamics” along with Dan Madrzykowski of the Underwriters Laboratories Firefighter Safety Institute and Lieutenant John Ceriello of the Fire Department of New York.

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