In part 1 of this 2-part article, the tremendous and on-going training needs of fire-rescue personnel were discussed. We recognized that in today's fire service, diversity of topics is required to maintain proficiency in all expected areas of service. We also acknowledged that all of this training requires time and as a company officer/squad leader, it is our job to maximize the available training moments. In order to gain the greatest benefit, we can look towards "high risk - low frequency" responses/activities to provide guidance for topic areas. Also, five general areas were identified for assessing training needs. These are:
In part this article we will identify five different ways and opportunities for you to guide a training exercise with your personnel. These examples are "low-tech" in that they require minimal upfront equipment or supplies. They are also time sensitive in that they can be started and stopped without putting your company out of service.
All apparatus have required check-off sheets of equipment, supplies and operational readiness. Depending on your organization, this may be accomplished everyday at the beginning of the duty shift, on a particular day of the week or after each call or use. These times provide us with a great opportunity to conduct training. The equipment is exposed and in many cases taken out of compartments. We have our hands on tools. Ask the person checking the equipment about the indications for use, how to deploy the tools, identify safety precautions, how to troubleshoot operational problems (especially important for power tools), maintenance considerations, and finally, what can be used for the job if that particular tool cannot be employed. This type of training works well for newer members and when new equipment is placed on the truck.
While the apparatus operator/driver is checking the mechanical components and pump, take the time to discuss and review items related to his/her duties. For engine companies, this would be a good time to talk about pump pressures for hose lines, signaling methods for charging and shutting down lines, discussing relay pumping or even uncommon evolutions like standpipe and sprinkler supply pumping.
Many departments maintain spare fire apparatus. Take a look at yours. Is the equipment on that spare identical to the front line piece? Is it older, maybe even antique? Will the troops know how to assemble and employ the equipment? Take the time when checking these older trucks to assure that all players can utilize the gear.
Are you responsible for keeping inventory for stock items that are not kept on front line pieces? Do you have a cache of equipment and supplies for mass casualty incidents, HAZMAT or terrorism response? Has it been a while since you and your crew received training on this cache? Use the time while completing these inventories to review what you stock, when it would be deployed, who would use it, and how it is to be used.
There is probably no better source of "training moments" than at the incident scene. Of course, we need to be keenly aware of the right time and right forum. But, don't miss the opportunity to emphasize training points.
During defensive operations, as events settle and there is not as much activity, gather your crew and discuss the incident. Areas to look at include, but are not limited to tactics, the Incident command system and how accountability was monitored. Each of these can be expanded to fit the needs of the group.
It is also possible to find training moments during offensive fire operations. If you have newer members, use these times to explain some of the "whys" of what is going. Overhaul operations and ventilation operations have many teachable points. These include how and why operations are being carried out in a particular manner.