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  • What do you use...

    ...for tabletop exercises for buildings, apparatus, etc.?

    Does anyone use model buildings, the kids' toy fire trucks or something else? Where do you get them?

    I was thinking about bringing in tabletop exercises into our fire dept and didn't know if a white board & markers are sufficient or if we need to be more detailed.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    A VFD I do work for took some 8' lengths of 4x4's and cut them 4", 8", 12", 16" and 20"s long. Lay down the long ones for commercial buildings, stood them up for tall buildings. Used matchbox cars/trucks from a few thrift or goodwill stores. They also had some vinyl siding, or something about 4 inches wide, and about 4 feet long to use as streets. They used the conference table as the base (ping-pong table).

    They wanted something along the lines of a 3D model for position training.

    FM1
    I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

    Originally posted by EastKyFF
    "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

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    • #3
      Originally posted by FIREMECH1 View Post
      A VFD I do work for took some 8' lengths of 4x4's and cut them 4", 8", 12", 16" and 20"s long. Lay down the long ones for commercial buildings, stood them up for tall buildings. Used matchbox cars/trucks from a few thrift or goodwill stores. They also had some vinyl siding, or something about 4 inches wide, and about 4 feet long to use as streets. They used the conference table as the base (ping-pong table).

      They wanted something along the lines of a 3D model for position training.

      FM1
      It must be hard to get a good serve off a Matchbox car. Do they get to re-serve then?

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      • #4
        Going far beyond what firemech suggests (which is an excellent idea), we have available in the county a large board built specifically for incident command training. It uses HO scale buildings and Matchbox-type vehicles. I refurbed it a few years ago, including custom painting around 100 vehicles.

        Players have available vehicles for fire (both "local" and "mutual aid"), law enforcement (local, sheriff, state police, and even the Border Patrol), EMS (ALS and BLS ambulances both local and mutual aid), hazmat, bomb squad, SWAT, dive team, medevac chopper, CFR, and some support vehicles.

        Also available are the other players in a scenario - busses (school and transit), utilities, various haulers (including fuel, chemical, and railroad), Red Cross, TV news, and plenty of assorted vehicles for mucking up a scene.

        The hydrants are marked with rated flows.

        The board is used primarily for the Public Safety Critical Incident Management course, hence "PS/CIM" on many of the emergency vehicles. It is available for any agency to use. I've helped out with several "drills."

        Some of the vehicles:

        PS/CIM Fire and EMS fleet:

        Someone didn't yield! PSCIM Fire and PSCIM Ambulance at work.

        Working fire:

        Hot rodder vs Pole, handled by Mutual Aid VFD.

        Upwind, uphill:


        At one time there was a fellow with a large collection of HO buildings, diecast vehicles, and other miscellania which he carried in old air pack boxes. He would travel around the state and set up a "sandbox village" atop a collection of tables, using newsprint on which to draw streets. Watermains were depicted with colored yarn, and fire hydrants were candy containers (thoroughly oversized). I have pictures somewhere, but don't ask me to find them.

        The end result was the same - set up scenarios and then work them out.
        Last edited by tree68; 03-09-2011, 10:24 AM.
        Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

        Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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        • #5
          Tree, that is a great set up. Go with that it will work everytime.

          It just about matches Abbott's, Abbottvilles set up!
          Stay Safe and Well Out There....

          Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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          • #6
            Thanks, Cap. I didn't build it (although I added a couple of new buildings) - it was originally constructed by NYSDOJ. The airport/trailer park module was added later locally. I just upgraded all the scenery and vehicles. The scenery was faded/falling apart, and sometimes an ambulance was an ambulance by virtue of a piece of tape stuck to the top that said "Amb 1."

            While the number of vehicles may seem like overkill, it allows for virtually unlimited resources (within the context of the board) for pretty much any incident you can think of. It's up to the class/exercise coordinator to place limits.

            A fully "staffed" PS/CIM course involves reps from fire, EMS, LE, government, and industry. You can then vary assignments for the incidents, including putting people in unfamiliar roles. Those usually end up being a cluster, but it's a learning cluster.

            Incidents can range from a "simple" fire to a hazmat leak to a shooting and more. Because the focus is on unified command, the vehicles, etc simply serve as markers. We aren't so much concerned with how the hazmat team is going to mitigate the incident as we are that they are called in the first place, and that appropriate isolation/evacuation/shelter actions are taken.

            And that everyone is talking together, not making independent decisions.

            That said - it is a pretty elaborate set-up. Blocks of wood arranged on newsprint with streets laid out with magic marker is just as effective and well within most everyone's budget. And perhaps more versatile, as you can duplicate any location in your area.
            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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            • #7
              That is an awesome setup for training, the possibilities are endless. I love it.
              Fire Service Interview questions - The blog that has REAL interview questions for firefighters, Engineers, Lieutenants, and Captains !

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              • #8
                We go old school using chalk or white boards. There are running jokes around the department about playing with toy fire trucks and a line from the movie Slapshot.
                FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

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                • #9
                  Thanks for sharing. All are great ideas. I had thought of the model set up, but not of 4 x 4's.

                  I read somewhere that there are companies that build these. Any suggestions on where to look?


                  Also, are there any online or computer programs that simulate structure fires? Do they go so far as what would happen if you broke out a window, vented the roof and so on?

                  Thanks again!

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