Building block and radio communications drill

Building Block Drill
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Always follow your service or department’s standard operating guidelines or procedures.
Firefighter safety is paramount – if a drill from another state or service is in violation of your own SOP/SOG’s, it can be undertaken at your own risk. Flashover, or the service where the drill came from, is not responsible for any damages or injuries that happen as a result of undertaking this drill.

Equipment required

  • Fireground Radios. Depending on how large your groups are, 1 per officer on each table is a good start
  • Building blocks with instructions, such as Zoobs, Lego, etc. Don’t bring a 5000 piece death star – keep it simple
  • One table per team, chairs as required. If you don’t have tables, use clean work areas around the station

How to prepare

Set up tables and chairs in separate areas. This drill can be done in pairs or teams, so sufficient fireground radios – 2 per team or pair.

Select either the same or similar building projects of similar complexity. If you have very new members you may choose a simpler project, to begin with.

Select a fireground/radio channel for communications (preferably not an operational channel in your area).

Safety Considerations for Firefighters

This exercise involves minimal equipment or movement/manual handling, so just the usual slips/trips/falls, sharp edges, environment etc.

How to undertake the drill

  • Divide your group into either partners or teams between each work area
  • Each team receives a radio each to communicate with each other
  • One area will have the building plan, the other the blocks
  • The goal is for the planner to communicate how to build the project to the builder. Remember clear, precise instructions are key
  • This could be a timed exercise if you wish; fastest and most accurate project completion
Crews undertaking the communications and building aspect of the drill

Lessons learned

This drill is about communications and working together as a team. It’s about giving clear instructions, but also clarification if instructions are unclear.

Building block scenarios offer a good range of skills to maintain and may give a break from the usual hose drills.

This is a good exercise for new members who may still be unsure or not confident in using radios and it’s good practice for senior members & crew leaders to refine their radio communications for clarity and relevance.

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I founded Flashover to promote Australian Firefighting. I've been a volunteer and a paid firefighter but now I spend my time chasing up leads, promoting good mental health and making the occasional Grumpy Firecom comic!

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