Drill of the Week: SCBA Confidence Training

Key to firefighter safety and survival is the firefighter’s ability to find his way out a building when conditions become untenable. Unfortunately, the path to safety is often inundated with obstacles the firefighter must traverse to make it a safe area, often in complete darkness. Getting lost is easy enough to do in the best of conditions.

SCBA systems offer protection from the hostile environments created by fires, but they can hinder escape from untenable conditions by becoming entangled with hanging debris, not allowing firefighters to fit through openings, and so on. It is critical that personnel not panic in these instances and work remove the obstacles hindering their escape. This week’s drill includes eight evolutions departments can use to help their members gain confidence in their abilities to escape under adverse conditions.

The evolutions use equipment that should be readily available in any station: 10 feet of rope (preferably 8 mm or smaller), a roof ladder, a hinge hook or other door-blocking device, 50 feet of hose, a nozzle, a personal safety rope with carabiners, personal webbing, a knife, and a hand tool. Departments must purchase the materials required for a simulated wall for breaching and reduced profile maneuvers.

The eight evolutions are:

  1. Disentanglement
  2. Ladder Crawl
  3. Bay Door Wedge
  4. Coupling Identification
  5. Nozzle Identification
  6. Wall Breaching
  7. Handcuff Knot
  8. Self-Rescue Harness

For all evolutions, the firefighter’s mask is blacked out, and he must maintain contact with his hand tool at all times. If a firefighter must put the tool down for any reason, he must place it between his legs or kneel on it. If the firefighter loses contact with his tool, the instructor should take it and see how long it takes for the firefighter to realize he has lost the tool.

Read the Low-Cost SCBA Confidence Course here.

Visit FireEngineering.com’s Drill Archive for more firefighter survival drills.

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