In October the company hosted an Engine Company Operations class. This was a 16-hour class held in two 4-hour sessions on Tuesday evening, and an 8-hour session on Sunday 10-23-06. In this class members learned techniques for advancing hose lines into buildings. The class consisted of several scenarios, each with a simulated fire in an area of an abandoned building. (The simulated fire was an orange cone.)
Students were divided up into 4 crews for each exercise. The teams consisted of Primary attack line, Secondary attack line, Search & Rescue, and a Rapid Intervention Team. The attack team had to extend the hose line from the engine, locate the fire and begin extinguishment. The secondary attack team was initially responsible for water supply and then advanced a second line into the building to assist with fire suppression. The search & rescue team searched the building for victims and was responsible to turn off the utilities to the building. All teams had to work together to complete the scenario. This required constant communication between the teams and the incident commander.
During the final scenario, an instructor pulled 1 member of the search & rescue team aside and had will announce a "simulated mayday" over the radio. The RIT team was activated to rescue the downed firefighter. The team learned that in a large industrial building it could still be difficult to locate a firefighter even with his PASS device activated, due to the large size of the building. The PASS device tone tended to echo, creating some confusion in locating the firefighter. The team eventually located the firefighter and, used a folding ladder as a stretcher, was able remove the firefighter from the building.
This class not only reinforced skills and techniques that we were previously using, but also forced crews to focus more effort on their radio communications and teamwork.