Help rookie and seasoned firefighters safely hone their skills in simulated environments with these crucial tools
From burning buildings to car accidents, firefighters need to have the skills, training and knowledge to save lives in a variety of dangerous situations.
Instead of recreating these life-threatening scenarios and putting trainees in harm’s way, many training tools can simulate these environments to allow first responders to practice in safe and easily-repeatable ways. These tools also enable training instructors to control the conditions within these scenarios and provide helpful feedback to help their students grow.
Whether you're a trainee or a fire department leader, this guide equips you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about acquiring, maintaining and using firefighter training equipment effectively.
Learn more about firefighter equipment, training, and more when you read The ultimate guide to firefighter training in 2024.
Essential firefighter training equipment
In addition to the standard firefighter equipment – turnout coats, respirators, axes, fire hoses and other gear – no department should be without the following firefighter training aids.
Body, helmet and aerial cameras
Even the most expensive training equipment in the world is rendered ineffective if you can’t review how that equipment is being used. That’s why a robust wearable camera system should be your first stop when building your department’s training equipment inventory.
Wearable body cameras provide a boots-on-the-ground view of each trainee’s experience during a live training exercise, allowing instructors to review the footage and provide feedback on their performance. Further, training coordinators can compile a library of well-executed maneuvers and tactics and use them as teaching tape when showing trainees how to carry out exercises properly. Vehicular and aerial cameras offer additional coverage, ensuring instructors can improve performance in all aspects of daily operations.
Axon Fire Solutions offers a selection of rugged, high-quality camera equipment that can unlock each firefighter’s full potential. Discover how to make Axon the cornerstone of your department’s training program.
Hose line training system
While more extensive live exercises are undoubtedly crucial for applying practical knowledge, it’s unrealistic to use these situations as a way to train beginner firefighters on how to suppress fires effectively. Hose line training systems can quickly and safely replicate small, controlled fires so trainees can practice fire hose suppression techniques.
These systems often come in the form of burn trays, which use a series of tubes and nozzles to funnel and ignite liquified propane. Burn trays can be used for beginner fire suppression training or integrated with larger firefighter training props plans, such as vehicles, dumpsters and helicopters for more specific training.
Simulated smoke training tools
Where there’s fire, there’s usually smoke. However, you don’t always want to create a real fire when training firefighters to navigate inside a high-smoke environment. Firefighter training gear like smoke machines and face mask covers offer ways to replicate these situations without putting trainees in harm’s way. Face mask covers are especially beneficial, as they are a cost-effective way to simulate visibility conditions of moving through smoke without generating any smoke.
Training regulators are another way to simulate harsh conditions without burning through expensive live equipment. These regulators attach to facemasks and mimic real-world breathing conditions inside a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), allowing firefighters to train their breathing techniques as if they were using the real thing.
In addition to navigating smoke and putting out fires, firefighters must search for and rescue civilians without causing additional harm. Trainers can use life-sized mannequins and position them within field exercises to train firefighters on proper retrieval and resuscitation techniques. These mannequins come in various sizes and weights, which simulate people of all ages and body types.
HazMat gas simulators
Fires start in a number of ways, and gas leaks are one of the most dangerous. Firefighters need to be prepared to detect the source of gas leaks to prevent them before they start a fire or stop them before an existing fire gets worse. However, putting trainees in direct contact with a gas leak is challenging to replicate and extremely dangerous. HazMat gas simulators can help give trainees hands-on experience while keeping them out of harm’s way.
These simulators use a combination of sensors and emitters that simulate the presence of gas. Instead of reacting to actual gasses in the air, the sensors respond to the custom emitters to simulate gas readouts – the closer the sensor is to the emitter, the stronger the reading. These tools can simulate various conditions, from source leaks to more diluted outdoor gas clouds.
Firefighters need to stay in shape to react to dangerous scenarios effectively. They need to rescue civilians, lift heavy objects and endure harsh conditions, all while wearing dozens of pounds of heavy equipment. Fire departments must ensure they are equipped with fitness equipment, like treadmills, weights and other machines, to ensure first responders are in peak condition.
However, fire departments should look into equipment beyond what would typically be found in a typical fitness center. Firefighter physical training equipment like rope climbing stations, ladders, rock climbing walls and even wood-cutting stations help first responders train for specific actions while strengthening the muscles needed to complete those actions.
Nothing beats live, hands-on training – but putting these scenarios together is expensive, complex, and requires a high degree of coordination to be effective. VR training is rapidly becoming a way for firefighters to practice these types of scenarios in a safe, cost-effective and highly repeatable manner.
Instead of live rescue exercises inside a real, burning abandoned building – which requires extensive set-up, safety protections and other considerations – trainees can don a VR headset and experience a similar scenario within minutes. While this training won’t replace the real thing, it enables first responders to hone their skills, practicing and repeating the techniques they have been taught so they can improve performance out in the field.
Enhance firefighting safety and training outcomes with Axon
Practical training requires feedback, and the best way to see how trainees respond to exercises is to see things from their point of view. Axon can provide that window into your trainee’s experiences through its unique array of connected fire training solutions.
Axon offers an array of cameras that synchronize with firefighting training aids to enhance instruction. Axon Body 4 offers high-quality video recording with real-time support, allowing instructors to view live exercises as they’re happening, right from the trainee’s viewpoint. Axon Fleet 3 integrates with fire trucks and other vehicles to capture footage during exercises. And Axon Air provides an aerial view of any scenario, enabling instructors to coordinate and review holistic firefighting strategies.
Want to learn more about how Axon’s connected fire solutions can improve training outcomes for your department? Contact us today.