I am on the local Vol FD and we are going to build a search/rescue maze and implement a smoke machine we got.  I was hoping for some tips on what to include and maybe some design possibilities?  Open to suggestions!!

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Thanks for the input. I guess I should include that we have a large garage behind the station we are using. 

Well we are going to build a permanent maze with different obstacles and things.  I am looking for different ideas of what to put in and how to put them in.  Tables will work great to set up in the station until we build it though!

A large garage or other large open area with a variety of furniture is a better option than a fixed maze.  Your people will learn the fixed maze very quickly, which reduces its effectiveness over time.


My department has a fixed maze, but we use it primarily for new firefighter training.  We use tables, chairs, sofas, etc that can be re-arranged as obstacles for the majority of our training. 


We obtained this furniture partially from an old fire station we replaced and partially from a local recycle center that collects old, broken furniture.  Remember, a chair with a broken leg makes a good FD training prop without the need to repair it.

Not knowing your area but assuming mostly residential with some commercial, one thing to include is a suspended (dropped) ceiling collapse.  These are common in commercial office space as well as finished residential basements. 

These ceilings can be an entanglement nightmare of electrical, phone, internet/tv and support wires, along with the ceiling grid work.  Build a 'collapsed' suspended ceiling section on top of desks, chairs, filing cabinets to simulate office space.


That is an excellent point.  I know our chief wants to install some stairs and narrow halls, but maybe we can build those that lead into an open room for search.  We can put different props in the hall and stairs like end tables, doors, etc. and rearrange the open room to seem like a bedroom or living room.  I really like that idea.  Thank you.


Also a good idea.  We are a small town but we do have a few large store fronts.  We actually had a small tornado (first in 60 years) come through in Sept 2010 that caved in part of one of the shopping centers so the hanging ceiling would be good practice.  How would you suggest building that?


The best way to do it is to find an building scheduled for demolition.  Simply remove the ceiling panels, cut the metal grids to the size you want the collapse prop, and cut the wire hangers.  It is easy to put a few furniture items in a prop room, drop/break a few ceiling tiles, then re-connect the metal grid and drape it over the furniture.  You can also drop in some of the "slinky" ductwork, some old electrical wiring, and even some HVAC ductwork to simulate a more complete collapse.


This makes a very realistic ceiling collapse prop, but be warned - there are lots of sharp metal edges and points that can put holes in your turnout gear in this prop, as well as the TOG being chalky white from the broken ceiling tiles after training.

IF you want the option of changing your maze around, and your garage has rafters, you can take sheets of plywood, attach hooks to one end and hang them from the rafters to make walls that you can easily move and recongifure. This way you can "make" different rooms or hallways for them to search. then fill the rooms you make with chairs, tables and other obsticles for your firefighters to navigate.


Jack, and Ben I like the false ceiling prop idea.

  We are a volly dept. and are building a search/rescue maze inside a semi trailer that will sit permentately behind our station.  One room will be permanent, other walls will have hinges on them that can be moved to change configuration. 

  On the other end of trailer built a small stairs going up to a "second" story that will be 4' high(remember they'll be crawling).  In the upstairs built a trap door to simulate a floor collapse, the fall will only be 3' and they'll end up on cushions.  Built another permanent wall inside that has studs 16" on center exposed with pipe and wire run through the studs and they'll have to get through the wall.

  To help simulate "real" world conditions besides a smoke machine  we are adding smoke detectors going off inside.  The possiblities are endless, have fun.

Great idea!  I'm jotting all of these tips down.  This will be fun to build.

well a desighn they use at most fire schools is a floor with just the bare rafters to crawl across and the entrance is a stair case with a few stairs missimg and then the rafters than and entanlement box with wires  than the rest is up to the immagination and what sanarios u might run into in a structual fire hope all is well and everything comes out well train hard and be safe

We built walls using 4x8 sheets of OSB and 2x4's that we can move around. We can rearrange the wall sections as we please. It is possible to create a combination of large and small rooms or several smaller rooms. We also collected some interior doors from a remodel that we fit between the wall sections to create the entrance points to the various rooms. The 4ft wall height makes it easy to observe the firefighters as they make their way through and also to torture them with wall collapses, ceiling collapses, entanglement issues, all sorts of things.

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