Drills and Training—A General Need

Drills and Training—A General Need

Smallest Department Requires Them as Well as Largest Unit—State Tournaments Useful—Need of Officers’ Schools

IT is just as important for the volunteer fire department of a village to keep up-to-the-minute in matters of fire-fighting as the largest paid department. This can only be done by keeping eternally at it, through drills and training. Chief Waldron shows how best this can be done by all fire departments, both large and small, in the following practical paper:

To achieve a better understanding as to my thoughts and ideas relative to fire departments, and to establish the broad purpose of this paper, let me state at the outset that I can conceive no distinction between a “volunteer,” a “part-paid.” or a “fullpaid” fireman. To my mind, they are all firemen in the real sense of that term.

Deputy Chief John J. T. Waldron, New York City

The community in which the fire department operates will determine whether it be a volunteer or paid organization. In the smaller towns, a volunteer organization may suffice, but as the community grows in size and its citizens devote more of their interest to their various specific callings, the employment of a paid fire department is a natural sequence.

Whether the department is one in name only or a real fire department is a matter of organization, discipline and training, all of which factors depends largely upon the personality and purpose of the chief of the fire department.

The standard system of drills and training should be broad in scope, yet sufficiently detailed in outline to permit its application to any department regardless of its size.

Remember, a system of drills and training may be applied without contemplating a “drill tower” or even a “drill yard” as may exist in large cities. The real purpose of drills and training is to educate the members of a department, transmit to them standard methods of operation, and to bring to the department standard and recognized practices in tire prevention and fire fighting. Much of such instruction and training can be done in the regular company quarters of any fire department.

“DON’T make the error of believing that because a department is small no drill is needed. It is just as essential for the small department to drill regularly as it is for the larger department, if you wish to have a real organization.”

Scope of Fire Department Training

The scope of training should include:

  1. Preliminary training of new men after entrance into the service.
  2. Regular weekly drill of companies as units.
  3. Annual competition between companies in the department.
  4. Training and education of newly promoted officers in their respective ranks.

An officer, fitted by experience, training and temperament, should be designated and assigned as “Drill Master” in the School for Instruction for Firemen. Newly appointed members should be required to attend regular sessions at such school until deemed proficient in the rudimentary requirements of the business. Where it is not possible to have a regular drill yard for such instruction—and as a matter of fact most of the so-called drill yards serve mainly for ladder and rescue work—a room at Fire Headquarters will suffice for lectures and instruction, and any company quarters will be sufficient for practical work in handling of tools, raising ladders, motor operation, etc.

Program of Company Drill and Instruction

A program of general drill and instruction for companies should be adopted and every company should he required to devote one period of not less than one hour weekly for such drill. These drills and instruction should be conducted in company quarters under the supervision of the Commanding Officer of the company.

All companies of the department should be required to report at a designated place and to perform a scheduled list of practical fire operations at least once each year under the supervision of the Drill Master or the Chief of Department. The time required to complete such operations by each company should be fairly and squarely recorded. Where a company fails to complete all operations within a reasonable time, such unit should be required to again attend the School after a short time for a second trial.

Use of State Tournaments

Where state tournaments are held, the program of operations to be performed should be based on a standard schedule similar to those used in the company school through the State. At present, state tournaments are held in some of the counties among the volunteer fire departments, and I believe it might be a good practice to have the best companies in each of the paid fire departments of a State attend and compete in such tournaments. If possible, the annual convention of the State Association of Fire Chiefs might include one day for such tournament. If not possible to hold the tournament each year, then every second year might be used for this work. The tournament as a feature of the convention would be an attractive feature for many citizens and could be used with commercial advantage to the state organization as well as serving to display the proficiency of the various fire departments.

Officers’ School Should be Established

An “Officers’ School” which will continue the interest and education of newly promoted officers should be established in the larger departments. In such school, the ranking officers of the department should serve as Instructors, giving to the younger officers the benefit of their knowledge and experience. In smaller departments, quarterly conferences should be held regularly each year at which the Chief of Department should discuss his policies and hold discussions with his officers to the end that the efficiency of the department may he constantly improved.

Schedule for Drilling of Companies

A committee of officers of this State Association should be appointed to submit to the organization a detailed schedule of operations and instruction work for the drilling of companies, and such schedule should include the following: Training and practice in the use of all tools and appliances;

Stretching hose in various layouts—single lines, siamesed lines, branch lines from gate connections, etc.

Use of nozzles of various sizes;

Carrying, raising, lowering and placing of portable ground rest ladders

Placing, raising and lowering of aerial ladders on trucks;

Motor operation, propelling and pumping instruction ;

Instruction in ventilation—opening windows, removal of coverings on shafts, stairways, etc.

Operation of motor pumping engines, both when connected to hydrants and taking suction from rivers, creeks or wells;

Use of streams from chemical engines;

Use of all portable fire extinguishing equipment;

Salvage work—spreading covers, limiting spread of water, draining floors and cellars, etc.

Instruction in signals, alarms, and telegraph;

Placing of apparatus at fires.

Methods of computing pressures, discharge, friction losses and incidental problems in fire operations:

Instruction in design, arrangement and sources of water supply for sprinkler and standpipe equipment in buildings.

Use of Maps or Block Plans

The drill and instruction in company quarters should include discussions tending to familiarize all members with the method of attack at all fires, particularly with those which may occur in premises in the company district or town. One of the best methods to accomplish this is to have on hand in each company quarters a map or block plan of all the buildings in the district. Such plan should show the location, size, and general construction of the buildings, exposures, etc., and if possible the stairways and other entrances to premises, street water mains and hydrants, standpipe and sprinkler equipments and controls of water supply to same.

In the case of the larger cities, such maps can be obtained from several map companies which prepare same for real estate or insurance purposes. In the smaller communities maps may be prepared by the fire department after surveys or inspection, and from information obtainable in Building and Tax Departments.

Hypothetical fires can be fought in various premises at each of the weekly drills in company quarters and all members will be prepared when actual fires occur.

Regular Drills Essential for Smallest Department

Don’t make the error of believing because a department is small no drill is needed. It is just as essential for the small department to drill regularly as it for the larger department if you wish to have a real organization.

The small league baseball team needs “morning practice” as well as the major league team, if games are to be won.

Box 52 Association Holds Meeting—The first fall meeting of the Box 52 Association of Boston, Mass., was held on September 21 with President George C. Ambrose, presiding. Plans were made for the coming year.

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