Saturday, August 17, 2013

Training out of trash

"One man's trash is another man's treasure." We can absolutely apply this to our training program. With many counting on the use of technology to serve us our training these days, almost zero cost goes into building props and training aides out of trash.

Computers, tablets, smart phones and whatever the next hot device will be, certainly play a vital role in our organizations training regimen. We want those tools available to all of our personnel, so we can stay on top of changes and more importantly deliver training clearly, often and right into the hands of those who need it. What we cannot get out of those circuit boards wrapped in plastic, the skills and mentoring that comes with hands on training.

Many departments have state of the art training facilities that include computer labs and training grounds. But what about those who do not? What about those crews housed in stations many miles away that cannot make the trip while on duty for a short company session? We need options, we need training props that our members can get something out of while not needing a purchase order. Become a "dumpster diver!"

Do not take dumpster diver literal. Utilize local resources such as utilities, contractors and even your own backyard projects. The following is a "grocery list" of items to be on the look out for in which you can build your own props.
  • Large pipes (culvert, drainage, sewer)
  • Wooden pallets
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Door parts (knobs, lock cylinders, mortises, etc.)
  • Truck tires
  • Electrical wire, phone cords, cable, network cables
  • Out of service items such as
    • hose
    • rope
    • SCBA
    • hand tools
All of these items can be used to either build a type of prop or be used so in service equipment can stay in service. Examples of props I have built with the above list include:

Confined Space prop from culvert pipes for doing horizontal drags. You can also use this for an SCBA confidence prop. Drill holes into it then using dowel rods create change of profile distractors. Run rope and/or wire through for entanglement hazards.

Wooden pallets can make great temporary walls for search and rescue obstacles/detours.The members may know the room they are in, but with a few of these in place, the layout can easily be changed. Take out 2-3 pieces of the deck board to create an opening for change of profile entry way.

    Truck tires can be attached to rope that can be pulled to mimic a charged line. They also can be part of a SCBA/Search course. They also work great for a "chopping station" during physical fitness.

Have doors and windows around for forcible entry. Keep door parts that can either be through the lock props or table drop drills to show their inner workings.

Don't throw out that old hose! Use it in an apparatus floor maze. Practice "Smooth, bump, bump to the pump!"

Out of service hand tools and SCBA can be used in the scenarios. On old SCBA can be thrown into a duffel bag to mimic your On Deck or R.I.T. bag. You can also create a scavenger hunt with old tools and appliances. Scatter them in a blacked out room and have members try to find them all. To make it more difficult put in the tools and equipment to make a certain type of connection like a standpipe or hose line that they must complete.

Get creative! Some of the above examples many of you have seen before. This post is simply reminding everyone of the items you probably have in your firehouse right now that could be used for training. Adding some recycled materials can increase the options that you have without making the trek to the training grounds or needing an all hands training session.

Not everything has to be used. Last year we contacted a local hardware store about "scratch and dent" items. We were able to finish our roof ventilation prop with shingles very cheap. They sold us damaged packages and mismatched bundles at a fraction of the price. This gave our prop a realistic feel and all it took was a morning of pounding nails. See what local resources are willing to sell you at a discount or even donate.

Do not let budget and space constraints weigh you down. Even if you only get one valuable training session out of your recycled prop, it was well worth it!