The Academy offers a wide variety of Fire trainings that are tailored for the rural firefighter. Much of what has been written and taught is built around career urban firefighting. That’s fine but does not translate well in the rural setting. We do not have the luxury of dedicated truck and engine companies. We routinely operate short-handed and this reality needs to be built into our training. Below are some of the many modules we offer… we can always create others to suit your needs. We are happy to visit with you and talk about your needs and see if we can structure a program for you. The first visit is free… although we will happily accept a cup of coffee!
Got a building that needs to go? We can help. We will guide you through the permitting and pre-inspections, we will show you how to reinforce weak points in the building to increase fire withstand and run your burn day in accordance with NFPA 1403. We can handle this from planning through the actual burn. And don’t think you need a big building to make this work; we recently burned a 12’ x 18’ out building in Greenfield (see Oak Park Burn on our yearbook page) and got twelve evolutions out of it!
The First 20 Minutes
The first 20 minutes at a structure fire will dictate the outcome every time. Apparatus placement, initial water supply and the initial attack will knock the fire down… or it’s going to be a long day. We will work with you to establish a routine that can be drilled regularly so your firefighters can develop that all important “muscle memory”. The fireground is no place for a discussion or free lancing. Learned roles make for smooth and effective operations.
Water on Wheels
In the rural setting establishing water supply will take the better part of thirty minutes on a good day… it could easily be double that in frozen winter. The water you bring with you is your first line of defense, use it wisely. This training is a subset of the First 20 Minutes. We can help you craft a plan to use the water you bring with you and set up drills to practice it.
Rapid Intervention Team (RIT)
What is RIT and how do we use it? Some towns have trained RIT teams that are available through mutual aid. Many towns do not. Should a “mayday” occur, all of us should have some kind of plan… again based on operating with limited personnel. We can look at your resources and help you craft a plan and then drill it.
Going in? You better have a plan. We teach SLICE because it works. We teach how to use SLICE with limited personnel because that is our reality. We will talk about common construction, coordinated ventilation (AKA tactical ventilation) and advancing hose lines… all the ingredients of a successful interior attack.
Search and Rescue (SAR)
There is a report of people still in the building. If we are going to get hurt, this is one of the most likely reasons why. The rules are not all that complicated, it’s just that they are often ignored. We need to talk about it, establish clear guidelines and drill it… over and over again. It’s that simple.
The next group of trainings are part Fire and part EMS. Almost all rural fire departments either run EMS themselves or are the first layer in the “tiered response” with a neighboring ambulance coming in for transport. Either way, we are responsible for the types of incidents described below.
Mass Casualty Incident (MCI)
The Mass Casualty Incident is not a common event, but when it happens… it is high stress. The most common rural MCI is a school bus accident, now you get to add in frantic parents. Every fire department should train for these and run a drill at least every other year. We do a lot of these trainings and recommend several nights of training prior to the drill… it will set your responders up for success.
We are not lifeguards and we are not waiting on the beach. What we are really doing is trying to avoid a recovery. So we teach rapid response which includes getting the boat hooked up to the utility (or whatever) and to the scene and into the water. Then we teach rapid extrication from there.
This is not a certified Ice Rescue Technician course. Several of us are Ice Rescue Technicians. Our program is aimed at coordinating the whole rescue scene, from on shore and out on the ice. Like water rescue the objective is to get the victim out of the water quickly, safely and alive. Unlike the certified course, we can run a drill for you in a few hours and get everybody involved.
Rescue from Heights
Someone is hurt up on the roof, stuck in a tree or worse. We need to get them down… nobody else is going to do it. If they are hurt, we need to stabilize their injury before removing them. We do rooftop drills, hunter tree stands… got a tower? And then of course there are our four legged friends. If you drill you greatly increase the victim’s safety as well as ours.
Confined Space Rescue
Whether it’s a work space or play space, people get into tight places and get stuck. Once again they turn to us. If you drill, it will come into focus. We can help you with under vehicle, in a culvert, down an embankment or down a shaft extrication. There are a lot of clever commercial devices, but few of us can afford them. We offer some general guidelines to operate with standard departmental equipment and then drill with it.
Ropes and Rigging
We have a couple of highly qualified ropes and rigging specialists on staff in Rod Towne and Jeff “Ten Fires” Rychwa. You either know ropes or you don’t, and these guys do. Much of technical rescue requires ropes. Rather than overwhelming you with 16 knots and hitches on the first night, we provide our hands on training in manageable “bite size” chunks because it works better.
The roof is a dangerous place but there are ways to reduce the danger. We start with ladder selection and placement and then explore how to move around on the roof. Where’s the safest place to walk? How do we vent, straight cut or louvers? When and why should you cut an inspection hole in the “good part” of the roof? A short classroom session is then followed by drill time.
We work in a hostile environment on a regular basis. When it becomes untenable we need to get out quick. Like everything else we do, getting out quick is something we need to train. Trying it for the first time when the room is flashing over is not the way to do it. We teach the basics of going through a window in a hurry. This training is often added to SAR training, they happen in the same environment and fit well together.
We all say we know how to do it. Some of us have fancy systems to make it happen, others use pretty primitive systems. The biggest problem is that almost all of us skip it altogether, at least some of the time. We all need to set up a system and we need to use it… every time. We can help you set up a system and train with it. You will also find that we will strongly encourage its use in all of our drills.
Wilderness Search and Rescue
This is a challenge for all of us and we all get to do it from time to time. We have a couple of specialists for this training. Chief Hall is a very experienced hiker, mountain climber (particularly in winter) and guide who for years worked on the Mt Monadnock Rescue. Jeff “Ten Fires” Rychwa brings his wilderness survivalist and ropes and knots skills to the mix. We typically offer an introductory classroom session followed by outdoor drills.
There is a lot to extrication. There are a lot of different types of cars these days. But somewhere at the bottom of this are the fundamentals of extrication. This is a hands-on program. We like to add victims, real ones and manikins, to make the evolutions more realistic. We start simple and add complexity as we go.
Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC)
Chief Hall was a certified EVOC instructor for years. The full EVOC program takes two full days. He now teaches an evening class, both as review for experienced drivers and that all important introduction to Emergency Vehicle Operation for new members. It is not a certification class but one that all volunteer/call firefighters should go through. Think of it as an awareness program.
This last group of modules is leadership and officer development. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a volunteer or call department. The lack of a real pay check makes the motivation side of management a real challenge. Developing officers on a few hours of training a month is not much better.
Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way
As the title suggests, there is something for everybody in this training. This is an overview of how it all fits together. This lecture addresses leadership issues, following the chain of command, not interfering with the chain of command, social media concerns and a whole lot more. This training should be attended by all members of a department, not just the officers.
Developing the Company Officer
This is a more focused leadership development lecture. Clearly it should be attended by current and likely future officers. We have no issue with inviting the entire department. The game plan for leadership development is not a secret society ritual. The common good should always be the objective and as such can be well shared with all the players.
Reviews, Promotions and Discipline
Although officer specific, like Developing the Company Officer, this is not a secret map to success. Those who are subject to reviews and discipline and who may seek advancement will be well served by inclusion into this training. Put it out there, explain the rules and expectations and watch people thrive. It’s been proven to work time and time again.
Volunteer Recruitment and Retention
has been at the heart of the slow agonizing decline of the volunteer/call fire service over the last thirty years. Nationwide we have lost a third of our volunteer firefighters in that time frame. It is possible to reverse this trend. Chief Hall teaches this class and will draw extensively on his experience reversing decline in his own department. You will hear a lot about leadership, training and an atmosphere of inclusion. This is not a holistic class, no holding hands and singing Kumbaya, but a no-nonsense look at what has to happen in this day and age to grow and nurture the volunteer firefighter.
Town Politics… How’s it Going with the Selectboard
Many of us view selectboards, planning boards and budget committees as our mortal enemies. That’s the first mistake. They are not going anywhere, they have real authority and you are going to have to deal with them. Chief Hall will sit down with your officers and perhaps the whole department and discuss how to approach your boards. You need to walk a fine line between being reasonable and willing to compromise at times but also push hard and not give an inch when it counts.
This last course section below is not a training module in the traditional sense of the word. We don’t come one time and deliver the training. We work with you and create a lasting document for you to use as a training tool going forward.
Department Specific Documentation
We can create a permanent reusable, step by step PowerPoint presentation on how to use or operate any of your apparatus or equipment. This allows you to conduct your own trainings for new members or for review with exiting members in a way that is always consistent with your SOG’s. This removes the often confusing human factor of “the Lieutenant does it one way, but the Captain says to do it another”. We come in, work with you and your firefighters to put together a presentation. This document is unique to your department. Click the button below to see a presentation we put together back in 2002 for Greenfield Fire. Interested?.. give us a call.