With the current status of the nation focused on the COVID-19 Pandemic, most fire stations across the country are limiting travel and visitors. In addition, many are cancelling or postponing trainings to assist with the social distancing. That being said, company level training must continue to maintain engagement of our staff and hone skills for operational readiness. The use of technology and a little ingenuity we can still have some very effective and high-quality trainings at the stations.
This is an opportune time to review the overall operations and maintenance of our saws. Given we are limited and trying to maintain distance, have members take the various saws (vent saw, rotary saw, chain saw) and look at the procedures to adjust the depth gauge, tighten the chain, inspect the belt if applicable, fuel ratios, bar oil, spark plug, etc. Also, ensure everyone knows how to change the blade or chain and places it in the correct rotation. It is also a great time to review start up procedures, ventilation options and overall clean the saws. This quick, thirty minutes of training and review will engage the crew, instill operational readiness and shift the focus off the current pandemic for even just a few moments.
Location, Location, Location
We all know the importance of knowing our buildings, these are said to be the grounds upon which we fight. With that we can conduct building reviews from inside our firehouses. Various realty sites are available, simply enter your zip code and look at properties for sale. Review with the crews the overall building layout, construction, firefighter hazards and likely areas for fire development such as kitchen. We can also take the opportunity to discuss features such as window size and location and their orientation to various rooms such as bedrooms and living spaces. Also, the hazards associated with basements related to contents, egress and access. Training such as this will morph from a simple construction discussion to tactics and strategies, fire flows and other tactical talk.
Daily, we check our apparatus and equipment; with that we also know that this is not always as in depth and taken with the amount of care that we may always like due to time constraints and other tasks that require attention. Given the current situation, this is an excellent time to spend the time reviewing the apparatus, looking at all the equipment thoroughly, inspecting power tools and less frequently used items. Again, allowing the crews to lead this will both engage as well as enhance the training and discussion. Encourage the crews to spend time out in the bay; one it is out and in less close proximity and it also improves their knowledge and comfort with the equipment needed to perform the job.
Similar to the apparatus review, take the time to get out and review some of the less frequently used tools. Maybe your apparatus has swift water gear or rope rescue equipment, this is an excellent time in the station to get these items out, don them and review their overall function and operation. Also, review any associated policies and procedures that may correlate with the equipment. If your apparatus has no specialty equipment, no fear, take the time to show some proverbial love to your hand tools. Get the hooks, axes and halligans off the truck, wipe them down, brush away any rust or burrs and give them a fresh coat of oil or paint. While many might consider this routine and not training, it does instill a sense of pride for the company, ensures the functional operation of the tool and hopefully moving forward out of this crisis becomes the new normal for your company.
Streets & Maps
While many of us rely on mapping software to get us from the station to the alarm, it is not a substitute for knowing our area. As a company, we can go around the table and say a street in our area, the rest of the crew has to provide the location of the street and directions from the station to the street. We can also give prominent buildings or locations and provide the same data. This is a great quick training to build our knowledge of the streets and locations in our areas.
Review of NIOSH reports is always a good training, print off a NIOSH report for each member and go through the hazards, what went wrong and how your company can prevent the same results. Critical components to look at and review of a NIOSH report includes contributing factors and key recommendations. Give the members the opportunity to review the incident and discuss their thoughts, it is important that these reviews be more of a discussion with the crew rather than a lecture.
There are numerous other training ideas, get creative. When you are conducting company, training ensures you have an objective and that the training engages the members. We must maintain training as a priority even during these tough times, it provides a sense of normalcy and ensures our members are ready to respond when needed.