Monday, October 4, 2010

Live Burn Training: Whats YOUR standard?

 Every year, as part of our training cycle, we review and share the previous years Firefighter Fatality Reports. The latest report is available here. Everybody in this business should make it regular reading every year. Almost every year there are several deaths which occur during training, sometimes these are related to the stress induced during live fire training. The Lairdsville incident is a horrible example of what can happen due to poor planning and lack of knowledge. As a consequence of this and other incidents, my sate has invoked a very strict list of requirements to conduct live fire training evolutions.
 Both my Training Center and my Department has adopted this standard as the baseline for us as a minimum standard. To summarize it includes the basic requirements to have an attack line and a backup line from independent sources capable of delivering at least 120 GPM, having a 3,500 gallon static water supply available, having EMS and rehab active on the scene, and several other basic requirements. In addition, there are instructor requirements such as having at least one live fire qualified instructor for each 5 participants. Live victims are not permitted for any reason. We also supply an instructor to be with each crew as they move through the evolution.
 Eeven with all these precautions, we have had a few 'injury free events' which we were able to mitigate quickly and effectively before any lasting effects occurred. Some of these could very easily have been serious, including one true mayday for a man out of air on the second floor who panicked. Why someone would go in, know his bottle wasn't full is a good question, but the subject of another post.
 All the requirements that are to be met for a live burn evolution means that many Departments in the Volunteer service lack the ability to put on their own training. As we depend on our mutual aid being up to the task for structure fires, we have found it necessary to put on live fire training for as many as 5 other Departments besides our own. We seem to be the only Department with the resources. Ironically, we are using a burn building in one of these districts. They have nobody in their own Department certified by the AHJ to run burns in their building and rely on us to do their in service training.
 In this age of dwindling volunteers, difficulty in getting proper training, and limited funds and resources, I am wondering what other areas are doing to keep their personnel combat ready. Have you compromised the standards? Do you have what you need to pull of the live fire evolutions? What about your mutual aid Departments, are they up to the task? Is live fire training going ut of fashion because of the obstacles? When was the last time you had your crew in a burn building and feeling the heat?

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