The Philadelphia Fire Department is kicking off the New Year with the start of department-wide fire ground survival training.
The three-day course developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters looks at actual near-miss and fatal incidents to teach participants about handling emergencies. That includes how to follow a hose line if a firefighter gets lost in a burning building; how to get out of confined spaces or disentangled from wires; and how to bail out of windows.
The goal is to make sure mayday prevention and mayday operations are consistent among firefighters, officers and chiefs. Paramedics and EMTs will also go through the program, which consists of one lecture day and two hands-on training days.
“It’s a vigorous course, but it’s very good training and I believe it will help our department,” Firefighter Colleen Browne said.
Browne was among 30 PFD members who went through the program last month at the Philadelphia Fire Academy. Starting Jan. 2, she and others will train more than 2,000 of their peers over the coming year.
Fellow instructor Lt. Justin Foster said the mental aspects of the course stayed with him the most – particularly the BOA technique, in which firefighters are taught to Breathe, Organize and Act so as not to panic in a crisis.
“If you can keep yourself composed – recall your training, recall the skills – you give yourself a much better chance of survival,” Foster said.
This type of survival course was recommended in a federal report on the fatal Middleton Street fire in 2014. The program is being paid for through a $2.6 million FEMA grant.