Leatherhead Thursday: Training Props and Aids

By Shane Wells

of the Leatherhead Instructors

Firefighter educational services use training props or aids almost every time that we train. The costs range from free or inexpensive to multi-million dollar training towers or burn buildings, but they provide  a hands on experience. The training props and aids are a more interesting training method than a standard lecture, and they also allow us to test skills and gain an understanding of how the student is doing.

There are many companies that manufacture training props, BullEx is one company that offers many options for professional and innovative training aids.  BullEx offers everything from smoke generators to training towers and aircraft simulators. They not only provide props for the fire service, but they also offer props for public education, workplace safety training, and fire brigades. Some of the props pertain to forcible entry, roof simulators, window props, and lock cutting stations.  However, not all departments and facilities can afford to purchase props; they simply build their own. They key to building props for your department or organization is safety.

The internet provides many resources for building the props or aids that your department or organization may need or want. VentEnterSearch is one website that offers weekly training prop ideas, ranging from basic to complex. My department has historically built our own props varying from a forcible entry door to a confidence maze that has been set up in a training house. Our most utilized training prop is a shipping container that acts as a burn building, the container has a ventilation hole cut in the roof that has a hinged cover that can be controlled from the ground. We have submitted a grant for a training tower that can serve multiple departments in our county.

A training prop can be as basic as a kids puzzle from the store that acts as a training prop for dexterity when wearing a level A hazmat suit. Don’t allow budget constraints hamper your training, there is always a way to make your training better with or without a large training budget.