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….