Hi everyone,

I am a new training officer for our volunteer fire department and I am looking for some creative training ideas for our drills. Since we were lacking a good training officer and therefore our training was lacing I feel we need to get back to the basics and would like some ideas that would make training fun which would hopefully get our members more involved. This month's training is SCBA's. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


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Hello Jim, I am a Captain and on our training committee in my Volunteer Dept. I am not sure of what area you are in, however in my are we have been giving a house that the owner wishes to have torn down, so in the spring our dept is gonna do this, however in the mean time we are using it as a smoke house for our SCBA training. I hope this helps 

You can set up a little challenge course for each individual to go through utilizing basic skills. Time the run and it becomes a little competition for the people. Some examples of tasks include PPE and SCBA dressout, hook up a supply line to the pumper, pull a quick attack master stream appliance and stretch out. Ladder a building and climb to the roof line and back down, tie a tool such as an axe and hoist it to the second floor and then lower it, a small haz mat exercise, drag a rescue dummy 100 feet and then, after they are worn out, have them figure a simple hydraulics calculation on paper while still in PPE and SCBA. We did this just recently and even the least energetic of the crew got into it. All were tired and all enjoyed it. You can do any variations of this.

Knowing the SCBA is one of the most important tasks. I would run the crews through a consumption drill so everyone knows how far their air will really go. After that, do a 500 psi drill and see how many tasks they can do with that amount of air. Our guys now top off the pressure to the full 4500 psi, since they realize 500 psi could be enough to save their life.

I usually do an inspection/donning exercise and then set up some sort of maze/challenge course.  They will go through the maze on air with their mask blacked out.  I normally have at least one obstacle that requires them to remove their pack and push it through ahead of them and then re-don it.  I have also had an obstacle that involved wire entanglement, using phone wire or 12/2 romex wire, then they have to untangle themselves.  Just a few ideas, hope they help and let me know if I can help out more.

Thanks for all the replies and great ides.  Greatly appreciated.

Hey Jim

Get a few on a training committee. More heads are better and allows you to participate in the training. I picked up several good ideas using


Focus on making it interesting and fun. I was told by my humbling critics to keep the talk to 10 minutes max and break it up into smaller groups so everyone is hands-on as much as possible. Always have a job for every skill level. The older guys enjoy showing off their scene lighting and where to find tools for ex. Just because they can't don an SCBA anymore doesn't mean they can't be training. 

I like having a surprise question or two with some kind of goofy prize mid way through the evolution. Something a little goofy but useful. How many flashlights total are on E1,2,... How many traffic cones are on...the length of Street ABC is.... How many stethoscopes total are on all our app. I am amazed how many people know the exact number in some cases! If training isn't going that well it may help lighten the mood. 

One valuable thing I learned reading train-the-trainer type articles is there are several different methods of learning including written or printed material, spoken and hands-on and I try to incorporate all three in every session including a take home piece so people who learn each way get the best oppurtunity. Also we always try to do a comment period afterward and I write down good, bad & otherwise for future reference.

Last thing is to get the supplies you need for successful training. Ask for help from local companies and persuasive people (maybe that's you). We just finished building a wall prop and were able to save more than half the cost by asking a local lumber co to do what they could to help. 

Hope I gave you some new ideas. I will say I was on the other end of your training not to long ago and what may be considered a basic skill could be totally new to someone else. Back to basics may be insulting to some people but we all forget if we don't use it.

Good Luck and stay safe.


Go over the ins and outs of the pack, bottle, harness and mask. Suit up and do a lights out search in your meeting room, complete with tables and chairs. When and If you place your "randy" or another FF in the room, do so without your searchers knowing, alternate with and without a victim. Work on radio communication, team work and air management. Time your evolutions, don't rush, don't belittle, work on good technique and confidence wearing a mask. Talk over expectations before you drill, refresh "primary and secondary" search techniques and tactics.  As confidence is gained using the mask, move on to obstacles, impediments, loose wires etc. Work on harness conversions, rescue, mast conversions, buddy breathing and "rit" as comfort levels increase in future drills. Talk over with everyone post drill about good and bad and results, reinforce good techniques and tactics. most of all stay positive and work safe


Thanks for the excellent advise.  Some great suggestions.

buy a smoke machine  for search drills and scba confidence  . we use our machine all the time it uses peanut oil does not harm anything. well worth the money

Creating mock courses for your team to drill through is most effective. If your training team is small like mine is, and you're truly focused on getting back to the basics, I suggest picking up some fire service training books. Might not be as "fun" as you requested, but there are some workbooks you can hand out to the department so they can be involved with their readings.. good stuff to use during free time away from active training.


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