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4 takeaways on how fire departments train for residential structure fires

Results from a survey showed that most departments wish they had additional resources to help prepare and deliver company-level training


Photo/Stafford County Fire and Rescue

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By Sarah Calams, FireRescue1 Associate Editor

How often do your firefighters review fireground tactics for residential structures? Furthermore, how do you assess their competency?

These were two of seven questions asked in a survey to help us identify how fire departments train for residential structure fires.

The majority of respondents (37 percent) were firefighters. Twenty-four percent were company officers and other respondees included battalion chiefs, firefighter/pump operators, firefighter/instructors, fire marshals and a past assistant chief.

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While 40 percent of respondents said their firefighters review tactics monthly, 9.9 percent of respondents said they review tactics every shift.


Here are the top four takeaways on how fire departments are training for residential structure fires:

1. Many departments focus on suppression in regard to residential structure training


An overwhelming majority of respondents (47 percent) said they focus most on suppression. Other responses included ventilation, ICS tactical priorities, SLICE-RS, apparatus placement, line selection, stretch and placement, and more.

2. Training ground evolutions are most commonly used to assess firefighter competency


Training ground evolutions was the No. 1 selection among respondents (78 percent). Interestingly, online and written quizzes came in 3 and 4 percent, respectively.

3. A surprising percentage of departments do not document completion of structure tactic training


Eighteen percent of respondents said their completion of training is not documented. However, 59 percent of respondents said they document completion through a records management system.

4. Most firefighters learn from experience


It was no surprise to see that 81 percent of respondents said they use incidents the company responds to in order to generate ideas for training activities, while 63 percent said they use hazards in their service area.

The question, “What resources would most help you prepare and deliver company-level training on residential structure tactics” sparked a number of inquiries. Some of the top responses included:

  • Videos and hands-on training activities.
  • Real-time evolutions of size-up and reading critical fireground factors.
  • Additional acquired structures to train on.
  • A balance between hands-on learning and book work.
  • Additional live fire training.
  • Simulated scenarios.
  • Constant up-to-date training articles from firefighter websites and publications.

Do you have additional training questions or suggestions? Let us know in the comment section below.