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Hands-on training: Firefighters weigh in on their favorite types of evolutions

When it comes to hands-on training, what do you look forward to the most? Live-fire evolutions? Aspects of technical rescue scenarios?


Photo/Dalan Zartman

As with all things, there are certain types of training in the fire service that are more enjoyable to do than others.

When it comes to hands-on training, what do you look forward to the most? Live-fire evolutions? Aspects of technical rescue scenarios?

In a recent poll, we asked the FireRescue1 community, “What is your favorite type of hands-on training?

Overwhelmingly, a majority of respondents enjoy live-fire training the most (63%), followed by technical rescue (20%) and search and rescue operations (12%) training. Ventilation (3%) and laddering (1%) training received the least amount of votes.

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Check out these FireRescue1 resources for the top three types of hands-on training and let us know in the comments which is your favorite.

Live-fire training

4 steps to safe, realistic live-fire training: Chesterfield (Virginia) Fire & EMS Department Batallion Chief (ret.) Robert Avsec details the importance of a safety-first approach to this type of training.

“Every training scenario should be viewed as an opportunity for everyone to engage in learning, practice and growth,” Avsec writes. “In other words, success.”

Why fire departments should consider virtual reality training for firefighters: In this article, Lexipol Director of Fire Policy and Training Content Scott Eskwitt makes the case for virtual reality training as a complement to live-fire evolutions that provides a level of safety to participating members.

“Speaking as a firefighter, I’ll accept the dangers of our profession, doing whatever I can to minimize risk. Still, I didn’t sign up to become permanently disabled or die in training,” Eskwitt writes. “Speaking as a chief, why would I want to live with the knowledge a firefighter was permanently injured or killed in training for which I was responsible?”

Technical rescue training

Technical rescue training hurdles and solutions: According to Dalan Zartman, regional training program director and advisory board member for the Bowling Green (Ohio) State University Fire School, because of the lack of frequent exposure to technical rescue situations, the importance of technical rescue training cannot be overstated.

“Tech rescue is a high-risk/low-frequency event that pushes our intellectual, physical and emotional boundaries much further than our other disciplines because of the lack of consistent exposure and the requirement for advanced problem-solving,” Zartman writes. “The consequences for improper solutions are often swift and severe.”

Rope rescue: Mid-height rescues, ‘FD style’: In this article, Zartman focuses on providing cost-effective solutions to a highly specialized type of technical rescue training.

“I am a huge believer in specialization, always advancing in techniques and resources,” he writes in the article. “However, I am also a huge believer in dealing with the reality that most fire departments don’t have all of the latest and greatest gadgets and training. I also know that departments are often forced to adapt to what they have, and find safe and efficient ways to make it work.”

Search and rescue

A firefighter’s guide to fireground search and rescue – Part 1 & Part 2: In this two-part series, Jim Spell, a 33-year veteran with Vail (Colorado) Fire & Emergency Services, details situational awareness, size-up and firefighter orientation during this vital operation.

Preparation is key, Spell advises: “Every firefighter responding to a report of a structure fire must be prepared for search and rescue operations.”

The rookie’s first shift: Two lives saved: In this dramatic story retold by FireRescue1 Executive Editor Chief Marc Bashoor, read about Prince George’s County Firefighter Olutayo Adewumi (Tao’s) first day on shift that culminated in a successful search and rescue operation.

“There wasn’t as much smoke in that room compared to the rest, but I still couldn’t see very much. As I swept the top of the bed and came down the side, I felt something like an arm. I followed that up until I could feel the shoulders and the head and yelled for the lieutenant.”

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.