For it to be valuable in a "real-life" situation, we must strive to make training as realistic as possible, but without compromising participants' safety. Unfortunately, every year we see firefighters killed or injured during training evolutions. This fact underscores something one of my former coaches used to say about football practice: "It's all real."
A couple decades ago, I went through a smoke diver course that was similar to this one. To say it was an intense (physically and mentally) experience would be an understatement.
Years later, however, and even with all the training I've done since, it remains one of the most impactful classes I've ever taken. There's no question in my mind that those skills, and more importantly the intense focus on using breathing apparatus in difficult circumstances, have helped me through more than one near-miss incident.
At the same time, that course was conducted with safety as the first, and last, priority for everyone. The idea was to learn your limits; not force you to exceed them. From watching the video clip in this story, it appears the instructors at this class are following the same principles.
There's obviously a high instructor-to-student ratio for high-risk evolutions — you can see one of the trainees staying hydrated by carrying a gallon water jug. And the training follows a logical progression from practicing skills in a "clean" environment, to practicing them again (and again) in the burn building.
It's great to see a positive example of high-fidelity, high-impact and high-risk training done right.
About the author
With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.
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Nolan BastienWednesday, October 09, 2013 9:30:49 AMThanks for the write up chief. We appreciate it!