In The Beginning

   One of the most gratifying things I get to do as a fire instructor is teach the Essentials of Firefighting Class hosted by the Fire School held in Sioux City. It is an honor to work with new firefighters. I know people often complain about “today’s kids” and short supply of volunteers. I realize we are always in need of volunteers but this year’s class has left me excited for our future! The topics taught in this program can be used as a list of items you can use to enhance the basic skills of your department.

   This program begins with an introduction to the fire service and laundry list of challenges we are asked to accomplish. We focus on the respect and integrity of being a member of the service. We then move into accountability and a basic understanding of the incident management system. After these we advance to PPE including SCBA. The first day is finished with a march of the class around the campus of Western Iowa Technical Community College in full turnout gear including SCBA. 

   The second day is broken into five different skill centers that the participants rotate through in 40-minute time slots. Two of the evolutions involve SCBA confidence trailers filled with artificial smoke. One is provided by the 185th Air Guard and the other by the Le Mars Fire Department. There is a skills trailer from Northwest Iowa Community College where ladder and forcible entry skills are demonstrated. Hose rolls are demonstrated and practiced in yet another location. 

   The last skill station allows the participant to practice fire streams as well as operate a pumper under the direction of a skilled operator. Although none of these skills are considered mastered. It offers a chance to get exposure to different aspects of the fire service. Our goal is to leave them excited to master the skills they have seen by taking full training in all of them in the future.

Training Objectives

   Upon completion, the department should be able to…

   • Define the purpose of the fire service.

   • Discus the ICS.

   • Demonstrate donning and doffing full PPE including SCBA.

   • Participate in building search.

   • Demonstrate the use of fire ground ladders.

   • Demonstrate the use of forcible entry tools.

   • Complete standard hose rolls.

   • Participate in common fire stream applications.

   • Participate in the operation of a fire pump.

   Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at



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Jeff Gargano - Editor
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Humboldt, IA 50548

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