One Skill, One Drill, One Hour: Quick SCBA Confidence Course

One definition of confidence is having done something before and knowing you can do it again.

Through the entanglement hazard, they should be on their side, head first, with the SCBA bottle as close to the floor as possible to prevent snagging. They should be sweeping ahead of them with their free arm to push entangling wires upwards and behind them. If they do get snagged, they should back up and start again, and not try to bull through.

As they climb into the first crew cab, they should be on their hands and knees, and descend out the other side feet first, simulating feeling the ground in front of them for holes.

As they crawled under the second piece of apparatus, it might be a good idea to remove the pack, and either drag it alongside or push it ahead of them.

When searching the room, emphasize good, basic, search procedures. Always have a hand or foot in contact with a wall. At regular intervals, run your hand as far up the walls as possible to mimic feeling for windows. Do a hand sweep above and below furniture. If you have to put a tool down, don't risk losing it; instead, place it under your knee and you will always know where to find it (if your firefighters do just put it down, steal it from them and make them search for it). To search a rooms center, lay full length with one foot on a wall and sweep the floor ahead of you with your hand tool. Communicate with your partner if you have one with you. Stop at regular intervals and listen for strange noises. The person overseeing this section should stop the searcher once or twice and ask them to point towards their exit. You would be surprised how easy it is to get turned around even in a room you know intimately.

A good closing activity

It occurs to me that a quick drill I put together once is a good end to any drill using SCBA. When all is said and done, place two firefighters in the smallest closet you have with no lights and ask them to switch bottles in the dark. For extra fun, have one collapse against a wall and simulate unconsciousness. Or, have them switch packs but keep the same bottles. This proved to be too quick to be a stand alone drill, but it is a nice finisher, don't you think?


To submit your department's drill ideas, please e-mail Peter Matthews,'s Content Manager.