SCBA Familiarization

Do you know your SCBA? Really, REALLY know it? I do…mostly, I’m ashamed to admit I could know the numbers and pressure levels a bit better.  Being part of a few training classes has really opened my eyes to some of my deficiencies.  Some of the basic tasks of this calling I’m not as proficient as I thought. Granted, if I told the recruits that they could pump water from the East coast to the West coast and they would most likely believe me. But if they challenged me to prove it I would be hard pressed to demonstrate it.  As a rule I avoid making claims that I cannot prove or defend.

So when one of the recruits challenged me in a race to don an SCBA, I accepted. The challenge is to turn on the bottle, don the face piece, start air flow and have all equipment properly worn. Of course I had to handicap it in my favor. I told him the only way I would race him is if we put flash hoods on backwards first. I won.

With that in mind today’s drill is SCBA familiarization. This floated to the surface after watching the recruits struggle with the maze confidence course. There is nothing life threatening in the maze, and calling it a maze is a stretch.  It is a chance for them to work through a search, negotiate some obstacles and become more familiar with their equipment. Some obstacles require the removal of the pack, some just sliding the pack into their armpits and there are also some entanglements but nothing that should be too difficult to work through. The recruits had a difficult time, which is to be expected. We also ran a couple of seasoned guys through during that same time and a couple had SCBA issues that I can only attribute to lack of familiarization with the equipment, but  they did make it through without “dying”.

My opinion on training is that it should be harder than any expected reality. Anyone can kneel down and  don a bottle and harness. Try to make it harder.

Start with all necessary equipment laid out in front of you however you like, some guys kneel on their gloves  etc… The standards I used for a successful finished product in this drill are; Mask on flowing air, pack on your back fully opened cylinder with straps adjusted and seat belt on, 2nd PASS activated, gloved hands in the air.

The levels I had the recruits do are as follows.

1. No restrictions

 

2. Gloves on

3. Gloves on and a flash hood on backwards.

4. Gloves and reversed hood on, equipment messed with.

For the “Equipment messed with” the instructors would go around and rearrange the layout, randomly tighten straps, buckle the seat belt, turn the bottle or even the harness around. For the recruits that were really good we would tangle lines and straps.

 

Good luck to you, and stay safe.

 

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at firefighterbasics@gmail.com
Comments
Hollie Broughton
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
I was left feeling a little offended here. Trying to have an open mind, but also trying to figure out why you have to knock Pump operators so badly. Full time, I see your point. But I volunteer. And am a Pump operator/ Firefighter. I was graced with only 48 hours of training and 4…
2014-07-08 19:16:19
Jack Crais
Blanket Rules Vs Training
I enjoyed the ideas espoused in the article, but doesn't the acronym "K.I.S.S." mean "Keep it simple, stupid" or, for those who worry about hurting someone's feelings, "Keep it sweet and simple"?
2014-06-27 18:59:01
dennis
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
it was just a matter of time until this became evident in the fire serice. Unfortunately the dumbing down as you call it, could be a direct result of the nation's professional fire service being forced to hire candidates that have lower grades on their employment exams due to racial and ethnic quotas being enforced.
2014-06-25 17:46:09
Johnny
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
When I was a probie, we had pre-determined pressures, and we knew the friction loss for our hoses, but our Captain ran us through hydraulics classes. While we might not use those formulas, I'm still convinced the understanding is indispensable if one wants to be a great chauffeur.
2014-06-24 05:04:43
Ray McCormack
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
This is defenity part of it. When we are too busy to drill that's one thing but when we don't even get a chance to learn the options that is another issue. Complaints of lazy firefighters will only increase when technology can be blamed and used as the scapegoat for not knowing your job.
2014-06-24 01:24:00

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