The Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont executed a successful Fire Ops 101 event on October 4, 2006. Their event featured four scenarios Building Search and Hose Line Advancement, Vehicle Fire, Vehicle Rescue/Extrication and Cardiac Arrest Management.
It was incredible, said Aaron Collette, who coordinated this complex event and is a fire fighter in Burlington . We had 16 participants, including the governor who stopped by. Their local media also covered the event and broadcasted it statewide.
PFFV had hoped to put on Fire Ops 101 for several years and this year, the budget and opportunity came together. They made sure to give participants an authentic experiencesuiting them up participants in SCBA, using a smoke machine and making them search for a dummy in the smoke.
Their main focus, however, was educating elected officials about fire fighter training across Vermont . We wanted them to understand the profession and that we need specialized training, explained Collette. Their plan for the event was to show how badly they needed funds for their state training academy. The academy doesn't have showers or even bathrooms. The Fire Ops 101 participants had to use the portable restrooms, just as the recruits must use during training.
The PFFV hoped that improving their training facility would become a priority for those making decisions about fire fighters. In addition to lacking basic facilities, recruits also do not have a training classroom at the academy. In training exercises that would normally be done in a classroom, they do on a concrete floor in the garage. Fire Ops participants saw the difficulty in trying to learn EMS techniques when they tried their hand at a cardiac patient.
Vermont fire fighters also emphasized how important specialized training is for the profession through their scenarios, especially the extrication station. Participants used hydraulic rescue tools and cut an automobile open. They saw that with new vehicle technology, there is a vital need for fire fighters to be educated in the latest rescue techniques. It certainly opened the eyes of elected leaders, said PFFV President Steve Locke.
In addition to improving their training academy, the event also brought together leaders from smaller communities where staffing is an issue. Those leaders were able to see what it is like to have two people, versus three or four people, on a pump.
Our real home-run was having our candidate for the U.S. House of Representative who searched through a burning building. explained Locke. He said how strenuous and dark this work is.
Fire fighters from across the state of Vermont made this Fire Ops 101 a success. They made it happen on an incredible timeline, says Collette. The event ran smoothly with the format from the IAFF's website.
Having just run through the event, President Locke noted a few of the challenges they faced, including the extra time to factor in for teaching about SCBA basics during the first scenario. They found that by being flexible and having a plan for these anticipated obstacles before hand, allowed them to be ready for what the event brought.
We think they will take us more seriously, says Locke about his elected officials after completing this intense day. And I think we built some real friendships that weren't there before.
To hear more about Vermont 's event check out Channel 3's coverage here.
Fore more resources on Fire Ops 101 visit the Downloads section, where you can also find some of PFFV's planning uments.