We very often speak about realistic fire training for the members of the Fire and Rescue Services, but let’s be honest with ourselves, how realistic our training really is? And how is this training being valuable for all the members of the stuff participating?

I have been in the job as a professional firefighter for 13 years and actively took part in hundreds of training evolutions. Yes, given a certain Scenario Based Training Event (SBTE) where each member of the crew will carry out his or her task and actively engaging with the rest of the crew is priceless, but, let’s go a step ahead.

What if, firefighters are required to take part in table top type of exercises, where they will be challenged and assessed against relevant performance standards embodied in the relevant role maps.

For example; How can we simulate an aggressive wildland fire or a fire on a high-rise building using the SBTE approach?

It is physically impossible. But, what if there are in place, predesigned scenarios, where firefighters will be asked certain questions preferably by using the information based on actual incidents?

The ‘problem’ with SBTE is that training should be conducted under controlled conditions (for health & safety matters), whereas the table-top exercises, being absolutely risk free, can be taken on a whole new level.

It must be stated, that this is not just me making assumptions that this type of training regime can or may work. I have seen it work. Every firefighter (with the rank being irrelevant), carries a certain amount of knowledge, expertise, skills and experience. I have discovered that by using this type of exercises motivates the firefighters to actively engaged within the training and particularly, if the training is performed under certain conditions.

In addition, by using this type of training it will inevitably enhance the Situational Awareness of the firefighters at the incidents, as they may retrieve similar stimulus experienced during the exercises.

I have no doubts, that many other fire professionals around the world have used this approach using their own ideas, skills and experience to do so, but the purpose of this article is what if we trial something new and formal?

The very nature of the incidents is changing, ergo, it is my belief, that we need to adapt to this new form of incidents; extreme wildfires with unpredictable phenomena, rapid increase of high rise buildings, new materials used in industry, overpopulated cities etc.

All of the above is the personal views of the undersigned. All comments are welcomed.

Thank you,

Avgoustinos Hadjiyiannis GIFireE | MInstLM

*Photo Credit: Best of Greece

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