Search Line Survival Training - Part III

Over the past year and half of doing this course we have continued to develop new ideas and instructional methods to enhance a firefighters performance and confidence in search line operations.

The following are some more advanced obstacles to consider:

Photos By Timothy Sendelbach
Spring loaded floor assembly

This particular obstacle requires the firefighter to enter the course through a triangular opening to an angled floor assembly that is equipped with springs. Once the firefighter places his/her weight on the floor it immediately drops a short distance. The key to this obstacle is to see how the firefighter reacts to the changing conditions and to see what information he/she communicates to his/her partner.

The 4-Leaf Clover

While the 4-Leaf Clover obstacle does not directly replicate any particular obstacle on the fireground, it once again causes the firefighter to assess the provided opening and adjust accordingly to its particular shape. A good assessment of the opening will allow most firefighters to pass through head first without the removal of his/her SCBA.

Photos By Timothy Sendelbach

Photos By Timothy Sendelbach
High / Low Passages

The high / low passage is designed to require the firefighters to use their tools for navigation and probing as much as possible. By making firefighters climb a series of debris piles and then enter a restricted passage, tool navigation and probing become second nature.

Close Quarters Maze

Communications is one the most critical factors for search line survival training and directional changes require firefighters to provide detailed instructions amongst crew members. This close quarters maze requires the firefighter to change directions very abruptly and often; not only will this test their patience and persistence, but it also generates some creativity in how to best describe the pathway to their respective crew.

Photos By Timothy Sendelbach

Photos By Timothy Sendelbach
High / Low Ramps

Firefighters have been taught to navigate downward slants and stairs feet first, but seldom to do they do so because of fatigue and the general inconvenience on the fireground. These obstacles require teamwork, effective communications and a degree of creativity to safely navigate.

Scuttle Ladder Climb

While I would assume the practice of search lines proceeding up a ladder would be a rarity, this ladder climb obstacle has proven to be extremely educational in teaching firefighters how to follow/navigate a search line. Firefighters in this obstacle are led into a tight space beneath a stairwell where the search line terminates at a 90