Creating Your Fire Simulation Training Program


View our tips for creating an effective fire training program for your crew.


Welcome all, my name’s Jonathan Kaye. This is our monthly webinar on developing your simulation training program. We call it a Starter Guide. And I should be joined shortly by Steve Ward, our customer relations director, and Daniel Spivak, our sales director. This is going to be a quick talk. A lot of the webinars that we’ve done focus on the technical side of it, how are we improving the SimsUshare functionality, how do you use some of the basic or more advanced features of SimsUshare. But what we’ve come to realize is that while we are a software tool company, if we’re not helping customers develop how they’re going to use it from the content and curriculum perspective, then it’s never really going to be more than a tool, and each customer is going to have to figure that out for himself or herself. And so what we kind of boil that down to is, you have a simulation program, which is necessary, obviously, for a computer simulation for a number of reasons we’ll talk about––but do you really have a simulation training program? Meaning what’s your vision for the simulations you’re going to create and how you want to use SimsUshare as part of the overall process.

So what we’re really looking at is the basic premise. So we understand, again, while this technology is necessary, we know that effective training is really about developing and applying a successful process. It’s not really just by having the technology piece, that’s not enough. And so what we’re doing with this new initiative that we call the Simulation Training Handbook is presenting components of what we’ve seen as successful processes and then how you can create your own process plan. And again, this is just the beginning, so this is our kind of version 1, call it beta, we’ve put a lot of thought into it but we expect that as we develop this, we’re going to have many more examples, something really concrete that customers can pick up and use and adapt to their own situation.

Since I am in this set of present only mode right now, I won’t be able to see questions, so this is going to go fairly quickly. So we’ll have the questions at the end. You can always type them in and I’ll see them at that time. So the big big question is how do I get the handbook? And so I’m going to send the download link out all to the webinar registrants or if you’re watching this on a video, you can type in either of those links to download the handbook. And this is going to be something that we update periodically. We’ll also send out information if you want to send us an email so that we know you want to be updated on basically significant changes to the handbook, which will be mostly adding a specific examples.

So, getting right into it, the handbook we’ve divided into two parts. One is kind of like the core, we call Using Simulation-Based Training. And this is going to be the typical training areas––the company level training, promotional exams, and a little bit of explanations about the benefits and some ideas for using it in different areas of training, whether it’s company level, promotional exams––we’ll get into that. And then Part 2 is really, where do you start? What are some of the really foundational things? How do I start thinking about what simulations I want to use? And of course, that’s the beginning of creating the process, so we want to put some details in there but that would be if you really kind of didn’t know where to start at all. 

So now, talking about Part 1, as I mentioned, Using Simulation-Based Training in the Fire Service, we have broken this down into five areas where typical training can be enhanced with simulations. At the company level, or as part of officer development, and that can be informal or can be more formal officer academies again, whether that’s lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, or executive officer. We see a really promising area and an important area is in the development of SOGs or SOPs and their validation. And of course, promotional exams and lastly, we kind of have this catch-all category of continuing education, so those are topics that might not fit exactly into any other specific levels. So I’ll sort of take a quick look over here. Actually if you have any questions, just sort of type them in now. I’ll open up my little chat window and I’ll see if anyone has any questions. I don’t see any right now. 

So let’s take a look at this handbook. Again, right now we’re distributing it as a PDF file. It might change in the future where it would be more sort of a hyperlink kind of webpage as it becomes more dynamic. So we can see here it’s not too bad, it’s about 20 pages. 15 if you don’t count the appendix which has some example scoring sheets and example sim development processes. So Part 1, Part 2, so you can see here, each of these is half a page, a page long. That’s an introduction––Using Simulation for Company Level Training gives you the basics of sort of the purpose, some of the ideas, some of the benefits. Using Simulations for Officer Development and a couple things here we sort of put off to the side, some of the example exercise topics. As we get down to the second part which is more about the fundamentals, we’ll expand on this because certainly different exercises can be part of various topics, whether it’s company level or promotional exams. So, rather than just repeat the same kind of stuff in each section, we kind of condensed it and made it available just in a single section below. In this one here which is our Using Simulations for Officer Development, we also kind of outline example procedure. So for example, whether it’s online, whether it’s a classroom use, or whether it’s more sort of an assessment sim lab type of classroom would be where you have mixed knowledge teaching and use of simulation with interaction. But that might be more for discussions, where sim lab is really practicing running drills and doing many of them just one after the other of course, with a critique and hot wash after your simulations to really reinforce the learning that happens in the simulation. 

So using Simulations for SOP/SOG Validation and an example procedure, this is if you really kind of want to go whole hog and create a set of simulations based off your SOPs. And as we’ll sort of take a look, as I get down further Using Simulations for Promotional Exams, we expect to expand these sections with specific examples. So this is definitely something that, again, is a starting point to look at, think about your own program and as we put in more examples it can also help you further to adapt to your own and maybe get some good ideas there.

The second part which is Developing Your Simulation Training Plan, let me go back to our presentation. Taking the purpose of, for example, company-level training, using it to help firefighters know what to expect, to get the routine down, and practice working in their team effectively together. So it’s so critical obviously for all members of all crews to understand their roles and responsibilities in fulfilling the company objectives. So to try and minimize obviously freelancing. You want people to be able to think on their own but understand that sometimes they don’t have the whole picture and they do obviously have to follow orders. So interacting with people, interacting with others, and doing what they’re told. And that’s where a simulation can be so useful, so that you can rotate people through different positions to understand the roles and responsibilities of different positions.

Officer development there is for giving potential officers a realistic and relevant opportunity to practice skills, demonstrate them. Using SOG development, obviously SOGs are designed to ensure that the policies are practical, consistent, realistic, and using simulations is a great way to be able to demonstrate that your personnel can follow those policies, and also can be way of discovering––we know several departments who discovered flaws in their SOPs and SOGs because they tested them in group settings with simulations and found they were either unworkable or otherwise unrealistic. Promotional exams, obviously simulations are good for a really economic, efficient, repeatable, safe way to evaluate an operational competency of an officer in sort of field settings, and that’s sort of opposed to set of live-action evolutions. 

So the second part really is more about, where do I get started? And that’s why we call it Developing your Simulation Training Plan. So in this section we sort of say okay, let’s start out, we have these eight bullet points, essentially eight paragraphs, and we say okay, what are your training goals? And most importantly, how are you going to measure success or failure? It’s great to have these goals like, take your top three reasons for using simulation software, great to have them. Maybe you want to improve communication or size-up skills or incident planning, it’s a great goal to have. But really, how are you going to, well first of all, who is the target audience? And then what are you going to train on, what specifically? What types of incidents?  What types of skills? And then really, how are you going to measure its success or failure? So what we really emphasized is saying as specific as possible regarding, again, who’s being trained? To perform what? And then as measured by how? So it’s great that people come out of exercises with good feelings and they say oh yeah, we think we learned a lot, but we really want to say are the skills that the candidate is supposed to perform or just the team member, how is the best to measure that realistically? So you can give them feedback and you also can have evidence that they can follow that procedure, and learn, obviously. Learn the knowledge, learn how to apply it from a more theoretical concept into the practical reality. So again, it’s a big question that’s good to repeat oneself and a team, who’s being trained to perform what? And really as measured by how?

So, once you kind of have an idea of what your goals are and more specifically how you’re going to measure them, you’re starting to think about what kinds of simulations to develop. And you can obviously think about the single-family, multifamily, commercial, things like that are around you. But again, it’s hard to know, have I achieved coverage? Do I have all the things that I need? So that one of the best ways we recommend to figure out what kind of coverage and give you ideas is really to look at your SOPs and SOGs. Think about what hazards you have in your first due, or if you’re doing mutual aid of course, in your area. And by looking at your SOPs and what you’re supposed to do and thinking about how they match up with the hazards in your area, you can get coverage of your SOPs across the various typical kind of hazards that you have in your area. 

So as I’m going to go back into the guide here for a second, show you. So your training goals and again, here is sort of some of the gaps that departments typically have. Pre-incident planning, size-up communication. And then what we suggest here is the idea that developing a list of hazards and possible incidents in your area, from the bread and butter ones to the more rare but serious incidents that we say sort of keep you up at night. And then the second is consulting your SOPs, developing as a starting point. So you have kind of the incident type and now you want to say okay, what skills are going to be part of that? By looking at coverage of your SOPs, understanding your SOPs and applying it to the possible incident types, you can come up with a minimum set of simulations that are going to be able to exercise all the skills that you need to have someone demonstrate. So we put your possible types of incidents. So again, just a few suggestions over here. And of course, residential and commercial, there’s a lot of things that this can be broken down into.

Then in the guide, we go on to talk about some basic guidelines. Again, very simple stuff here and then while you’re creating simulations, we also emphasized we call it kind of the 3 R’s of creating effective training. Making sure it’s realistic, that it reflects actual conditions. It doesn’t have to be super detailed––that’s an important point, that big scenarios, big incidents don’t mean they have to have a lot of views and locations and massive numbers of pictures. You’re really trying to say what realistically is that person needing to see, and you can actually get away with relatively few views, few examples, even when you have complicated scenarios. So for example, at a company officer level, you typically want to have more involved navigation where people could go inside the structures and around, whereas if you’re dealing with a battalion chief or higher level who typically move around a lot, you might only need one or two pictures, even if the incident is very sophisticated, let’s say multi-alarm fire or active threat, things like that. Relevant obviously meaning that it’s localized and relevant to the skills that you’re teaching. And then the last R is in referenced, meaning that where you can reference the skills to the SOPs, that’s going to help you get an idea of how to cover all the SOPs that are necessary. So if you just dive in and create some simulations which are fine for sizeup exercises, that’s perfectly fine, but as you’re thinking about your plan, you want to think about overall kind of I guess a holistic kind of thing, what are all the skills that we need to do, and let’s see if we can put in elements to our simulations so we can get those SOPs covered, and then obviously measure how well people are following them. 

As mentioned, we kind of have different views and detail, that’s kind of the next thing we call the Simulation-Level-of-Detail. And again, there’s just three that we sort of broke this up to arbitrarily sets and reps would be one or two views, maybe three views which are just the quick turn, single interaction. There’s a moment of some decision, and they make that decision or they do that report and the scenario’s over. So that’s just a couple minutes, or that piece is over. Where you might have another more involved kind of scenario is where there may be a couple decisions so you get a few of the results of the consequence of a decision. And then of course there are full scenarios where that might be start to finish. But again, the difference between multi-decision exercise and full scenario is really, you know, whatever you make it. And you don’t really have to start at the beginning of the fire and end after overhaul. You can really think about it at different phases, so this is more kind of a fluid idea to have a basic breakdown of things you need quickly, things that might play out a little bit further, and things that you need to play out more. And as you get to more full scenarios, that might be more team training as you’re sort of practicing and teaching skills about operating as a team.

So we’ve put an objective here. For the duration, generally we don’t even see the full scenarios lasting more than about 20 minutes, and that is even kind of a long time. Typically the long scenarios, 20 minutes feels like hours. So that doesn’t mean you should be going up to 20 minutes. We kind of think somewhere between 5 or 10 minutes is a good amount of time. Obviously your mileage may vary. In the number of views, again as we’re talking about at a company officer level, you may have more views than let’s say a Battalion Chief or Executive Officer. We also present here as your consideration instructional formats whether you use instructor-led, and this certainly is where you have the opportunity to have the students ask questions, discuss concepts. Use simulations just either to illustrate conditions, use simulations to illustrate application of knowledge. And we kind of call Sim Lab Environment where that’s more sort of intensive, generally less discussion but moving more in terms of playing out scenarios and doing more scenarios, and afterwards there, conducting critiques or hot washes following the scenario and purpose there is to maximize the learning that people are doing inside of the scenarios. But of course also you can have self-paced training, electronic or online. 

So one of the last sections we have in terms of scoring, developing your own and in the appendix we actually have a couple of example scoring sheets, one for a Lieutenant, one for a Battalion Chief, in both and structural firefighting you pull out, use, adapt, whatever you like. 

Then the last section here we had just how do you make simulations with SimsUshare, so this is specifically about the program. And what we do is present several options here in self-paced, we talk about our help files, we talk about the self-paced based classes, the videos on our website. And then in our appendix, we have just a little bit of extra information. There’s a scoring sheet. And we did a project several years ago where we took a set of SOPs and we created a set of simulations around hazmat and incident command as well, but this this kind of describes overall how we took the SOPs, how we took some scenarios and then we made sure that we got coverage of SOPs. So you can see here the SOPs like expressway procedure, railroads, ICS. And then we came up with a set of scenarios that we were going to develop and then make sure that they had good coverage of the SOPs. So here you can see this mapping between scenario and SOP. So the SOP is here in the column, and which scenarios tests which SOPs. 

Well I thought this was going to be shorter it turned out. I hope that was interesting, hope you found that useful. I guess I had a slide over here as well. This is I think a useful depiction of taking let’s an say initial operation whether it’s a single SOP or multi, and being able to then develop scenarios that can be used for each piece. So typically with initial operations, you’ll have the radio report, the size-up. Places where are particularly good, whether it’s doing sets and reps or the multi decision exercise would be at these points when you have your strategy shifts, when you have command transfers, follow-up reports, things like that. So initial reports is a great way to get started because it involves size-ups and communication, but then you can use a lot of those scenarios to sort of back out and take the scenario a couple steps further and build it out.

So we went through all these, developing a simulation plan. Again, now you sort of see what the handbook’s about. I’m putting up a slide on how do I get it? There is a link there, and I’m going to send out an email later this evening with the direct link, but go ahead and type that in as well if you just can’t wait. We certainly don’t want to stop people from getting the handbook before we start. If you’re interested, send us an email, we’ll make sure to send you a notice when we update this. And we’re certainly going to be updating it around more examples because right now it’s very light on specific examples, but we are collecting them from various customers and hopefully we’ll be able to share that with you shortly so it can help you kind of get started as quickly as possible.

Again, hank you very much for your attention. I will have this recording available on our website. At this point I don’t know if anyone has any questions. You can use the chat feature in this webinar to put your question in there, otherwise I’ll leave that for like 30 seconds to see and otherwise we’ll get on with our day. Thank you again.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”View All CTC Webinars” color=”success” size=”lg” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fsimsushare.com%2Fctc-webinars%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row]