New Perspectives on Training for the Fire Ground
thinking skills are essential for the success and safety of all wildland
firefighters. Quality training is now available that helps firefighters
develop these skills without encountering risks of being on an actual
fireline. Interactive learning tools include: Staff rides, scenario
re-creations and Sand Table Tactical Decision-Making games. All encompass
multi-dimensional training and are rapidly becoming preferred training
methods that recognize individual learning styles and enhance effective
decision-making. Two powerful training tools in use today include:
Rides – Staff
Rides are a powerful technique for educating firefighters.
Staff rides facilitate interaction between students and instructors
in a style that promotes retention and long-term educational benefits.
Unlike “field trips” staff rides are tools where all “participants"
can hone their individual skills by retracing the course of an incident
upon the actual ground where the event occurred. Participants first
prepare for staff rides by studying after action reviews, incident reports
or historical narratives about a past fire event. Pre-work often includes
personal accounts written from a variety of perspectives, maps, and
photos or material related to the staff-ride topic. Next step is visiting
the site where the incident occurred.
the staff ride area, active discussions, role-playing, and even reenacting
the incident provide realistic scenarios that open up doors to the insights
and decision-making that were made at the time of the incident. Often,
the staff ride exercise will reveal challenges that participants may
face in the future, or reveal their aptitude for dealing with unique
situations. Staff-rides have found their place as an accepted part of
professional development and are very powerful training tools.
Table / Tactical Decision Games (ST/DX) – Sand-table
tactical decision-making games www.nifc.gov/wfstar/hottopics/tdgs_library.html
offer a multi-dimensional setting that includes temporal and spatial
“modeling” of incidents. ST/DX scenarios created in what
is essentially a pool table size, raised sand box where the geography
can be “shifted” to replicate ground conditions. ST/DX also
incorporates miniature toys or objects that replicate resources within
the simulated ‘geographic” environment. What brings forth
the challenges are the addition of “natural” influences,
such as weather, communication, and time simulations. In the sand table
exercises, accidents, emergencies or any thinkable unexpected event
can be added to provide a sensory challenge to the participants. Evaluations
of the trainees’ decisions and reactions are then evaluated, and
within a group of peers – feedback is offered from the other participants.
Because the potential for real-life consequences are eliminated at the
sand table, cognitive recognition and focusing skills can be assessed
and improvements recommended.
simulations, staff rides and ST/DX are elevating new styles of learning
that help take participants to higher levels of awareness. Sensory and
perceptive learning are powerful training techniques. www.fireleadership.gov