By Chris Mc Loone
There are a lot of innovative features being built into new and renovated fire stations today, and all are critically important to firefighter health and safety. And, while I do not discount any of them, the training props being built into stations today are my favorite to see.
I run with a rescue company. Our rescue capabilities include technical rescue disciplines like confined space rescue, trench rescue, and collapse rescue. I am also lucky enough to run in a department that has its own training facility, which is not always the case for volunteer fire departments. My department is in Southeast Pennsylvania, so we experience all four seasons.
Technical rescues are low-frequency/high-risk incidents, so honing and refining skills on a frequent basis is critical. Although we have a technical rescue prop at the training grounds, during the winter months being able to do a quick drill in decent temperatures would be a welcome change.
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Since we started covering station design at Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, the frequency of new station examples incorporating training areas has increased. These can be simply incorporating them into mezzanine levels for bailout practice to tunnel systems underneath for confined space rescue scenarios.
Some departments incorporate stair towers at one end or another that can be used for a variety of rescue scenarios as well as hose advancement drills, as well as ladder training.
To the extent possible, I believe all departments making substantial renovations to existing stations or building brand new stations should be figuring out ways to incorporate as many training props as possible into their designs. Firefighter health and safety begins at the firehouse–from what we eat to what we are breathing on the fire apparatus floor to how we drill. The opportunity to quickly stage a drill to reinforce skills during a shift or on a cold training night is irreplaceable.
Fire stations today have become highly sophisticated. Our ability to survive on the fire ground is related to how often we review and refine our skills. Along with other new innovations like hot zone design, specific rooms for PPE, station alerting systems, etc., providing the tools in the station to get some hands-on training is a logical feature to add as well to help ensure our safety on the fireground.
CHRIS Mc LOONE, senior editor of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, is a 26-year veteran of the fire service currently serving as a safety officer and is a former assistant chief with Weldon Fire Company (Glenside, PA). He has served on past apparatus and equipment purchasing committees. He has also held engineering officer positions, where he was responsible for apparatus maintenance and inspection. He has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years.