Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department
SCBA Competency Maze
2020 SCBA Maze
The first portion of the 2020 Drill Tower upgrade project involved constructing a modular self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) confidence obstacle course. Firefighters must be extremely confident and comfortable when utilizing their personal protective equipment at emergency incidents. Undoubtedly, the single most important piece of this equipment is the self-contained breathing apparatus which provides firefighters with the breathing air required to operate on the interior of a structure or at other emergency incidents where toxic atmospheres may be present. When firefighters use SCBA, sight is typically obscured or non-existent and other senses are taken away by the smoke, heat, and noise created by the fire and the ongoing suppression operation. To ensure GVFD firefighters are able to survive in these dangerous environments we intend to utilize this mask confidence course to proactively train our members in the survival techniques necessary to remove themselves from danger. Some of the safety and survival techniques we teach include wall breaching, moving through confined spaces, radio communications, self-removal from entanglement hazards, issuing mayday messages, and situational awareness.
In an effort to find the best maze to would meet our needs we began scouring the internet. We found many cool options but the one that seemed the fit for our space was created by the Kearney Volunteer Fire Department. Their course consists of multiple 80” modules. The nice part of the modules is that they be rearranged or relocated into a new pattern to discourage firefighters from attempting to memorize the maze layout. In addition, the modules are also adjustable to accommodate firefighters of various sizes and abilities.
Our maze consists of seven modules and one floor drop prop. Each module is constructed of ¾” plywood and 2” x 4”s and is 80” long, 40” tall and 32” wide. The modules we decided to construct are: reduced width, parallel joists, perpendicular joists, floor tilting over center, soft floor, confined space, floor tilting side to side, and floor drop. The maze currently starts on the fourth floor of the drill tower with firefighters following a hose line in an attempt to exit a structure. The fire fighters travel to the fifth floor where they encounter their first module which is reduced width. This section is built with an interior wall, which travels on garage door tracks, and can go from flat to V shaped. This is done so the opening the firefighter crawls through can be greatly reduced. Next up is parallel floor joists. This module uses two 2” x 6” spaced 16” on center to simulate having to travel through an unfinished attic. From parallel to perpendicular. The third module has 2” x 6” spaced 16” on center that are perpendicular to each other, again simulating traveling through an unfinished attic. Module four is floor tilting over center. This module simulates crawling on a floor that starts to give way. This is the final module on the first level and at its end is a swinging studded wall. The wall can be pinned shut and a piece of drywall inserted for the firefighter to breech to exit, or the wall can swing open to allow free exit. The firefighter then follows the hose up a short ladder into the fifth mod, spongy floor. This module is designed to simulate a soft or failing floor. At the end of this module is a small corner space to give the firefighter room to remove their SCBA, if necessary, to pass through the sixth module, confined space. This mod will have the firefighters traveling through a 24” diameter pipe. Some smaller firefighters will be able to traverse the pipe without removing their SCBA; however, most will have to remove or reposition their packs to get to the other side. At the end of the confined space module is a small space to allow firefighters room to re-don their SCBA. The seventh module is floor tilting side to side. This module allows firefighters to work on their balance. The final section consists of a floor drop module. The instructor has the ability to drop the floor out from under the firefighter triggering a “Mayday” situation. If the floor drops the firefighter falls about 2 feet into thick foam padding. When the floor drops the firefighter is asked to give a LUNAR report and then self-rescue from the maze. If the Instructor does not drop the floor, the firefighter descends a ladder and exits the maze. This prop is designed to train our members in a controlled environment.