Are we actually training or are we just putting in time?
Now I don’t need to tell you training is an essential part of firefighting. It's a must for any proactive department. However when it comes to training the question I ask is are we actually training? This is an area to me where I have no room for bullshit or fluff. In my opinion true training is about what the outcome is. True training gives us certain results in a few different areas.
1. We either learn something new never seen before or we see a modified way to do a task either better or faster.
2. It reinforces our muscle memory and stimulates our mind to recall information that may not have been used in a while.
3. Real world training. To make whatever task we are training on as realistic as possible (obviously while still operating in a safe manner of course). This can be accomplished a few different ways, tracking for time, adding simulated smoke or heat, using real props (such as portable sheet rocked wall studs for low profile maneuvers).
The area I am referring to when I ask “Are we training just to train?”
That is when we just train to log in hours. This is where we get ourselves into trouble. When performing low profile maneuvers through a ladder the lights are on, we are not on air, and with no structural gloves. When we shove the pack through we fail to maintain the low pressure regulator line of our pack and it pulls the mask off our face.
So here’s a real world incident. Lights are out or zero visibility, high heat, full PPE, on air, with a tool and actively breaching a wall, calling a MAYDAY, unslinging our pack while maintaining the regulator and low pressure line with our gloved hand, pushing it through the hole in the wall to either get out of the danger area or get out of the building. Huge difference Right?
You want to do a realistic air management drill? Full gear, pack , on air, start off throwing a ladder, grab a set of irons and force a door (if you have a prop for this) if not grab a sledge and beat a tire for a few seconds, from there stretch a line, and move working the line till your low air alarm goes off. Now stop, lay down, call a MAYDAY (building collapse simulation), and stay still while staggering your breathing (now this whole last part is air management). You will now be able to see just how long skip breathing you can make that 5 minutes last until help arrives. I myself have pushed 30 mins doing so, some of those who I have worked with have almost been able to reach 45 mins.
Dodgeball, hockey, mini golf, kickball and other half assed air management type training is just logging hours. I’m sure it’s just to make ourselves feel better like we are doing something. The only thing we are doing is cheating. We are cheating the citizens of receiving the best training to serve and protect them.
Ultimately we are cheating ourselves.
How prepared are you when the shit hits the fan. You’re stuck with low air because of a collapse. Test yourselves, push yourselves, please stop with these bullshit drills. Stop cheating. As always stay safe, and keep banging on your craft...