Editor’s Note: this is the fifth tip from TargetSolutions’ special report, “Eight Great Tips for Training Your Crew,” a best practices guide. To view the entire report, please click here.  
Let’s face it, training isn’t always fun. Some might even say it can be monotonous. It’s important for training administrators to be creative and think outside the box when implementing training. Mixing up regular exercises can make them more engaging. Add a competitive twist, a team component, or a prize, and watch your personnel’s intensity heat up. It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing – training, sports, video games, etc. – make it a contest and everyone will find it more engrossing.
TargetSolutions Product Specialist Tim Riley worked as training chief with Dunedin Fire Department in Florida and he remembers having crew members make their way through an obstacle course with hidden treasures placed throughout the maze. The race to find the treasures was memorable.
Next time you need to put your aerial device into the air, try a game of aerial cornhole – where the operator is required to place a weighted ball into a bucket with the aerial device. Not easy, and guaranteed to make a usually mundane exercise more lively. If short on ideas, you can always conduct a simple race: who can put their gear on the quickest? This includes everything: boots, pants, coat, SCBA, etc.
TRAINING TIPS YOU CAN USE
TargetSolutions’ Tim Riley has all kinds of ideas for mixing up training. Here are four good ones:
  • Instead of sending personnel through a maze on their own make them do it as a team. After all, you’re not going to enter a smoke-filled structure alone, right?
  • Make personnel bring appropriate tools they will need when called into action. Treat everything like a real drill. Don’t take away flashlights or gear they will have during the real deal.
  • Blind-fold a member, spin them around and have them find the hoseline on the floor. Have them practice reading a hose out of the structure while disoriented.
  • The classic “Breath Down Drill” … Force members to control their breathing while making their way through a gauntlet of obstacles using SCBA gear. How many evolutions can you do?