Company Level Training - The 20 Minute Drill: Part 2

There is a lot you can accomplish in training even if you don't have a lot of time. Here are some additional drills that can be accomplished in 20 minutes.

As we discussed in the last article, there is a lot you can accomplish in training even if you don't have a lot of time. Here are some additional drills that can be accomplished in 20 minutes.

1. Hazardous Materials Response.

What are the different zones that your department will establish? If necessary, can you set up a decontamination area? Will you call an outside agency to assist with a hazardous materials incident? These are questions for which everyone on your crew must know the answers.

Pull out the ERG and thumb through the four sections. I am willing to bet that it has been awhile since anyone on the crew has looked at this book. Determine the meaning of the highlighted lines. Remind the crew how to reference the different sections. Remember, correctly identifying the placard can provide:

  • The name of the substance.
  • The potential hazards associated with the substance.
  • Public safety information.
  • Protective clothing information.
  • Extinguishing information, as well as other relevant details.

This is neither the sexiest nor the most exciting drill that you can do, but if you are first-on at an ammonia leak inside a commercial facility with possible casualties inside the structure and multiple victims complaining of a wide range of symptoms on the outside, you had better be up-to-date on your department's procedures.

2. Apparatus placement. Get the old markers out (or the chalk for some of the relics out there!), and warm up your artistic skills. Draw an overhead view of a recent structure fire with which you are familiar. Lay out the scene to your crew. Have them place the first incoming engine, first due truck, second engine, rescue company, battalion chief, etc. There are many options for apparatus placement.

Try this drill from a multiple-alarm fire perspective. Throw in a few obstacles such as overhead wires and narrow streets with cars parked on either side. Be creative - there are endless variations of commercial buildings. What about rural residences that sit far from the road?

Draw an accident scene on a highway or a busy intersection. Where should an apparatus be parked on a freeway for a second due company dispatched to help block traffic at a vehicle accident?

For more information on this subject, go to and do a search for author Mike Wilbur. You will find several articles written by Wilbur, the foremost authority on apparatus placement.

3. Swift water procedures. Put away the PFDs and the water wings, because they will not be necessary for this drill. There are several short training sessions for swift water rescues. Refer to SOPs and refresh the crew on their specific roles in such an incident. Who is called for a water rescue? What is the role of the initial arriving company until the swift water team arrives on scene?

If you have throw bags on your truck, set up a trashcan some distance away, and see who the best shot is. Make it a challenge if you want to. Having a little fun with this type of session is still considered training for the day. Training doesn't always have to be straight-laced, button-down torture.

Pull out a section of rope, and have everyone tie a tension-diagonal. If you thought remembering basic knots was difficult (see 20 Minute Quick Drills, Part 1), try recalling this one from rookie school. If you are not sure how to tie this knot, there will be some comedic relief when everyone tries to remember the process. Hopefully, someone on the crew will have an idea where to start. (Hint: Figure eight follow through for one anchor point).

4. RIT procedures. By now, every department should have some type of RIT procedure in place, so we'll skip the lecture on the value of such a team. Have you discussed with your crew exactly how you plan to perform as a RIT? Here are some questions to consider. Figure out what works best for your crew.

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