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Firehouse: Please explain the “Risk Assessment” program for the department and what it means.
Bowers: Our “Risk Assessment and Decision Making on the Fireground” is a training program that was developed by our department and focuses training on scene size-up, risk assessment and decision making at structure fires. The training is targeted at company officers and first-arriving personnel. Our company officers make or break the incidents they respond to, so this is where we have placed the training emphasis with the program. The training program discusses strategy and tactical considerations for initial-arriving personnel in order to formulate fireground operational decisions at structure fires. This training program brings today’s fire environment into the reality of command and company officers’ decision making on the fireground.
The training program was delivered by all of our certified chief officers to their company personnel. This specific training has positively impacted our company officers with their risk assessments at structure fires and their strategy and tactical decision making on the fireground.
Firehouse: I understand there is a new Mayday prop at the fire academy. Please explain its function.
Bowers: Montgomery County Fire and Rescue has experienced several recent firefighter Maydays involving catastrophic structural floor collapses. I asked our training staff to develop an in-service training program that included a hands-on structural floor collapse prop that the entire department could experience.
The program provided focused training on flashover, firefighter self-rescue and a firefighter Mayday floor-collapse scenario. Our personnel rotated through our flashover simulator, performed firefighter self-rescue techniques and experienced an actual floor collapse in our new Mayday training prop.
The floor-collapse training simulator was built to produce a catastrophic floor collapse during fireground operations. The training prop is air actuated and when activated by the instructor, the floor collapses under the firefighter, causing the firefighter to fall approximately 22 inches into a padded area. The firefighter is to then transmit a Mayday by portable radio and perform a self-rescue technique to exit the collapsed floor area.
The floor-collapse training simulator is innovative and cutting-edge technology. This specific training has provided some of the finest in-service training that department personnel have ever experienced. Many of our seasoned members indicated it is the best in-service training experience they have been exposed to in their careers.
Firehouse: What other types of specific training do career firefighters undergo while at the training academy?
Bowers: Montgomery County Fire and Rescue is an “all-hazards,” fire-based-EMS response department. Besides mandatory certifications in fire, EMS and hazardous materials, career recruits have a comprehensive 24-week training program. Training topics include the following: daily physical fitness; cultural diversity; equal employment opportunity and the related laws; “Risk Assessment and Decision Making at Structure Fires”; Mayday training; flashover simulator training; critical incident stress management; report writing and “The Missing Protocol” lecture; confined space and weapons of mass destruction awareness; strategies and tactics; firefighter survival and rescue; Metro operations; International Trauma Life Support; Pediatric Education For Pre-Hospital Professionals; mobile data communications; Outlook Web Access email; Telestaff scheduling program; radio portable/mobile operations; electronic patient care reporting; firehouse reporting; firefighter-paramedic street survival; and review of Chief’s General Orders, policies, county regulations, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, National Incident Management System, Incumbent Performance Evaluation Wellness and Fitness, Firefighter Near Miss Program, Pro-Board/career development and public education outreach.