One Skill, One Drill, One Hour: Quick In-House Training Ideas

One of the most difficult things about becoming an officer in a small town fire department is realizing that not only do you have to show up for the drills but that you also have to plan them..

Instructor's notes: This drill can be run in house or on the apron. The members will be divided into two person teams. Each team will be timed as to how long it takes them to join all the different lengths and nozzle into one working hose length. The hose must be coupled to the coupling adjacent to it using adaptors stored on the engine. When a team is done they can rearrange the hoses into whatever pattern they think will baffle the team behind them, and must return the adaptors to there original positions on the engine. While they are doing this rearranging, the next team must be out of sight of the hoses. The team with the longest time must put the equipment away. The drill went well and it took about 45 minutes from beginning to end to run 10 firefighters through it.

Results: The losing team cleaned up with no complaint and with my help, since no officer should be sitting while his men are working. The next time I run this drill I plan to hide some of the adaptors just to add to the fun, and encourage the men to look for adaptors in places they don't normally look. When was the last time in your small town fire department you actually broke down a break down nozzle?

Drill # 2: Adding a length to a working hose line

Motivation: Adding a length of hose to a working hose line is not something that is done very often, but when it needs to be done, it must be done just as fast as possible. It is something that always must be done at the worst possible times, and should be practiced frequently.

Objective: To add an additional length of hose to a working hose line.

Equipment needed

  • A watch with a second hand or a stopwatch.
  • One engine, with three lengths of spare hose, if you do not wish to stretch the speed lay, or the speed lay if you don't mind repacking it.
  • One nozzle

Setup: Tie into a hydrant on a street that you can close for an hour, and attach two lengths of hose to the engine. Begin flowing water. At a signal to the pump operator, have two firefighter attach a third length of hose in the fastest possible manner. Experiment to find which is the fastest method.

Instructor's notes: The team on the nozzle should be given time to practice advancing and backing up with the hose. Have them advance it on their knees just for practice. Don't be in a hurry to add the extra hose; flow water for a while. In a small town department hose teams need all the practice they can get.

When it is time to add the hose, have the acting officer radio the message back to the pump operator, and start timing.

A two-person team will have to stop the water flow and add a length of hose in the smallest amount of time. When water flow resumes, stop timing. The teams will then switch positions until every team has worked the hose line and added the extra length.

Results: Two techniques were tried. The first involved using the hose clamp (and how often do you drill with that piece of equipment?) midway between two couplings as close to the nozzle as possible, and breaking the hose to add the extra length. The second technique involved stretching the extra length from the engine itself, disconnecting the working hose from the engine, and attaching it to the extra length. Of the two methods, the first was much faster and, all agreed, much easier. When the hose is added at the start of the working length, it was found that the weight of the still very full hose made it difficult to maneuver onto the new length. In addition, the nozzle crew had to pull a lot of hose before the new length was stretched, whereas in the first method, where the extra length was closer to the nozzle, the hose between it and the engine had already been stretched, and was not acting as deadweight.

One question you should ask your crew (and it is always best to elicit the answers rather than just give the answers) is "When should you start thinking about adding hose lengths?" At any structure fire involving large or set back buildings, it should be on your mind. At any garden apartment complex fire with deep courtyards, or any fire where you find yourself using 50 feet of hose just to reach the building you should be thinking it. Ideally, an alert pump operator or officer will be thinking of adding extra hose before the first hose is stretched. When in doubt, add hose.


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