We have had very few drills this past year and what drills we have had have been the same thing time and time again. Last night we had a drill and it was to be an SCBA recertification drill. When everyone assembled at the firehouse in the upper bay we were informed that the drill was going to be a little different. Everyone was wondering what the drill was going to entail. The Lt. running the drill stated that it wasn’t going to be an SCBA recertification as everyone expected. We went over the fact that our bottles on our air packs are 30 minute bottles but actually by the time you figure in a person’s physical health, and all the other factors then really you only have estimated 15 minutes. We discussed about how each person will use up the air in their bottle at a different rate. This is because everyone is different in body size and being in shape or not in shape as well as other factors.

Once we were done with all that we were told that now we were going to split up into 2 groups. After the groups were decided we were told that we are going to be timed and that we were going to go to our cars as if we were on the scene of a fire. We are to put on our gear and come in and put on an air pack and then walk up a flight of stairs to the meeting room. Anyone not going at the time was to watch the group being timed and make sure that everything was buttoned up and no skin showing. It was pretty good. I was in the second group to go with the Deputy Chief, the Chief said “time is ticking” and we went to work. I can tell you it was really cold out and my gear was really cold as well. I keep my gear in my car all the time so it really was cold. In the end it took me 8 minutes. Well, I had to wait to get to the compartment for the last air pack that was on the truck and I helped a fellow firefighter with his waist strap because, of course who ever put the pack back on the truck did not make sure that all the straps were lengthened so the waist strap was too small. So to say the least it took me longer to get up stairs.

After we were done with that scenario we went over how everybody did. We then were told that we were to split up with a partner and we were to practice the 2 in 2 out rule. All we were to do was to get dressed and don the SCBA as well as grabbing a tool. We all were agreeable to the new scenario and got with a partner. The first group of that went first went again. It was interesting. It then came my groups turn. I will say it is easier to put your gear on when you don’t have to take it out of the bag. My partner and I got on our gear and donned our SCBA’s. I of course had a problem. The waist strap got tangled and my partner helped get it untwisted. He grabbed me a flashlight and he grabbed a tool and we headed up stairs. We were the second pair to make it upstairs and we did it in 4 minutes. That was great. Our 2nd Lt. went over with us that she was thinking if everyone wanted to, was to take off our packs and if I understood her correctly our gear and put it in a pile. Each person’s gear and SCBA would be piled in front of that individual. Then they would be blindfolded. Then we would have to put on our gear and SCBA without being able to see. Lt. mentioned that this is what she did in her FF1 class and that it is what they do in the probie schools. The Deputy Chief stated that he wasn’t really thrilled with that idea; only because he would rather have everyone get their gear on correctly then get it on under a minute. We were shown how to make a stretcher out if two roof hooks. That was really cool; I had never seen that done or how to make it.

All and all it was a really good drill. Even with it being the most basic of drills it was very good and it was decided that one of the drills next month would be this drill. We do two drills a month and I liked this drill very much. This is a drill that is very good for every department to do because it gets the members use to their gear and SCBA. If you are a department like mine were there aren’t very many calls and you don’t use an SCBA every single day you tend to get lax and sometimes a little rusty on getting an air pack on. Planning other drills is good as always but making sure you and your guys are comfortable in getting their gear and SCBA on as well as being comfortable wearing it.

There is nothing wrong with going back to the basics….

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Comment by Kimberly A Bownas on February 5, 2009 at 8:13am
Dustin I just commented on your blog and those are some interesting ideas that I will pass a long to the Deputy Chief so he can put these drill ideas with the rest. He likes to get ideas for drills and then tries to implement them. Thanks for the input.
Comment by Dustin J. Millis on February 5, 2009 at 4:47am
I never understood why some dept's let their members keep their gear in their pov's. First off... you shouldnt be responding to a firescene in your pov at all... what good are you going to do??? You most likely have no tools... no partner... no IC... no nothing. Not to mention the fact that your POV is just taking up room for the apparatus to park.

Anyway, now that I got that out LOL... putting on your gear should be like 2nd nature to you. When I went through 1 and 2... we had "go" drills. Troughout the class... the instructor could say "go" at anytime during the night and we had to go to the bay and don our gear, including SCBA, in under 2 minutes. If you didnt do it quick enough... you did it again. You should be able to put that gear on in your sleep.

A few other ideas for SCBA drills that I've done are these... Get in full gear, mask included but no SCBA. Have someone blindfold you and a partner. Then have someone take two SCBA's and totally "mess them up". By that I mean take the bottles out, turn the regulator on, tie two packs together, mess with the bypass valve, tangle the straps, etc... just anything you can think of to mess them up. Then you and your partner must work together to untangle, untie, and put your SCBA back in working order. Then put it on and breathe from it. Do it all blindfolded. Yeah it sounds hard and yeah it is hard but I tell ya what, I can put an SCBA back together no matter how messed up it is under the worst conditions.

Also try a RIT drill. Again in full gear this time with SCBA and also carrying a spare airpack and again blindfolded, you must locate your Rescue Randy who is a "downed FF". Then figure out to get the spare mask on his face, webbing and all, and the bottle turned on so he can breathe. Again, yeah its tough, but I know that I could get a downed FF air in the worst conditions if I needed to
Comment by Rob on February 5, 2009 at 2:37am
All I can say, is in today's fire service, sometimes the most basic of training evolution is the best. My last department sees maybe 3 actual fires a year (counting car fires) so some of them lack skill in getting their gear on right, and fast. This soulds like a very good training.
Comment by Spartacus on February 3, 2009 at 6:00am
If you ever watch boxing, some of the pre-fight interviews for a championship, you might hear a guy say, "Well I've really been working on my jab," or something like that. The jab is the most basic punch in boxing. The champs aren't guys who know some secret move. They're guys who have MASTERED the fundamentals.
Same with most things, far as I can tell.
Seems to apply here, too.

Comment by Kimberly A Bownas on February 2, 2009 at 9:18pm
LMAO, that is good. I like it....
Comment by lmaz on February 2, 2009 at 9:06pm
Four levels of competency at any task:

1. Unconsciously Incompetent - You don't know that you don't know.
Example: the 15 year old who thinks that driving Dad's car would be easy, easy, easy,
"Why can't I have the keys now?"

2. Consciously Incompetent - You know that you don't know and want to learn.
Example: the 15 year old who strips gears, lurches the car forward or back, and hops curbs,
etc. the first time allowed behind the wheel.
"Hmm. Guess this ain't so easy after all."

3. Consciously Competent - You have been trained and can do it if you keep your mind on the task.
Example: the 15 year old who has taken driver ed and driver training and can remember to turn on the turn signal and look both ways before entering an intersection.

4. Unconsciously Competent - You're flying on autopilot.
Example: the 30 year old mother mediating between three arguing kids while she drives them to soccer, ballet and a play date, drinks her third coffee of the day, and orders take out for dinner on her cell phone. When she gets home she has no memory of how many intersections she crossed, how often she turned on the turn signal or how quickly or with what pressure she applied the brakes of her car.

Emergency rescue personnel of all levels (FFs, EMS personnel, etc.) should always be striving for the fourth level by continually drilling while stepping back into the third level.
Comment by Kimberly A Bownas on February 2, 2009 at 3:22pm
that is great and there is nothing wrong with changing up the drill a little bit so that is does stay interesting and it doesn't get old. Also a great idea of looking at drill ideas in the fire magazines. They usually have some good ideas.
Comment by Capt.Alex Arnold on February 2, 2009 at 2:03pm
We just recently had our SCBA certs also. I placed an SCBA pack and the bottle out of it, in the bathrooms. Then one person went into each bathroom. With the lites off they had to put the bottle in the pack then don the SCBA in the dark. they had two minutes to complete this. For the most part everyone was either under or really close to it. Then as a team of two they had to perform a "rescue". I had pulled the apparatusses out of the bay. Then I took 2 bolts of different sizes and a nut for each. Then I placed them on the deck seperated. They had to go in with the lights off and find the bolts and nuts. One person held the nut and the other put the proper bolt to the nut. Once both were found and attached they completed the "search and rescue" and came back to the drill room. On top of this the engineers were in the meeting room at the white board. They were the role of IC and had to perform the duties of it. I always try to keep the engineers involved at SCBA drills. They are the usual suspects when it comes to complaining about not having anything to do at SCBA nites.
Everyone had a good time and learned alot about working in the dark. The engineers/chauffers learned alot about managing the IC position intially at a scene.
That is the key to training, keep it interesting and everyone involved. I wish I could say that I thought up this drill, I didn't. I changed it alittle but I got the idea from a trade journal I think it was Fire Engineering. Be safe and learn something new today.
Comment by Chad Bauer on February 2, 2009 at 9:16am
This is a good basic drill. You can, afterwards, go over the individual parts of the SCBA and how they
work. I remember the first two weeks of our academy in Fort Wayne. It was 95 degrees outside in July and we were getting timed. If we had a strap not tucked in or we did not make time then the other squads had to get in a push up position with elbows down on the concrete until we or the other squad
got it right. We sweat our asses off and had sore elbows. The language was colorful too from our drill
instructors LOL. Anyway, that is a good drill and you can make a dozen variations with it. CB FWFD
Comment by Wayne Martin Harvey on February 2, 2009 at 8:46am
Kimberly,thanks for the feedback,the confined space problem is actually putting the mask on,one wonders how they got through FF1

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