Throw Back to Basics: 60-Second Drill

By Brian Zaitz

Think back to your days of basic fire training or your first days on the job going through the fire academy. Remember the constant drilling on the 60-second drill? This quick, simple drill was almost a daily routine during basic training, driving home the importance of speed, familiarity, and efficiency with our personal protective equipment (PPE) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).  This straightforward drill was an effective means to obtain mastery of the device. So why is that this drill is traditionally only found in recruit schools?


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To refresh, the 60-second drill is accomplished by donning all turnout gear with the exception of the SCBA, helmet, gloves and mask.  The mentioned items are set out in front of the firefighter and set up in any configuration that the he wishes. Once told to begin, the firefighter turns on the SCBA and places it on his back. All straps must be secured and fashioned appropriate to make entry into a fire building. Next, the SCBA mask is donned and appropriately checked for a seal. The mask must be tight and free from leaks that could possibly lead to contamination or present a smoke inhalation risk if entering an IDLH environment. Once complete, the hood is lifted over the head and secured around the mask, again checking to ensure no skin is exposed. The remaining PPE is worn to include gloves and helmet. To complete the drill, the firefighter attaches the SCBA regulator and begins to breathe air from the SCBA. The drill is concluded with a clap of the hands; the time is called and the firefighter is checked for exposed skin or escaping air. Once checked, the drill is complete and the firefighter can doff gear or, for extra credit, you can have the firefighter activate the PASS alarm on the SCBA, call a Mayday, from his portable radio, or overcome a regulator issue by engaging the bypass.   

The 60-second drill is an uncomplicated and basic drill with a focus on the core equipment that is needed on every fire–our gear and SCBA. This drill takes a total time of 10 minutes from set-up to completion, and should be a routine part of everyone’s company training. Take the time your next tour to go back to recruit school and practice the 60-second drill. 

Download this training bulletin as a PDF HERE (277 KB).

Brian Zaitz Brian Zaitzis a 15-year student of the fire service and the Captain-Training Officer with the Metro West Fire Protection District. Zaitz is also an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC , an instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy, and the Board of Director with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He has several degrees including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelor’s in fire science management, and master’s in human resource development. Zaitz is also a credentialed chief training officer through the Center for Public Safety Excellence as well as a student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.


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