Using the BlastMask allows firefighters to get an 'on-air' type of training without having to refill SCBA bottles. (BlastMask/Facebook photo)
As officers in a busy metro department, we take training very seriously. My feelings are also, that if you’re on this site and reading this blog, then you too take the same pride in yourself and your crew. You are the type of firefighter that wants to be on the busiest apparatus, be apart of the hardest hitting crew, be the most skilled, knowledgeable, fit, technically proficient operator that you can- to ensure the best outcome on the worst days. Many times in this profession, we only get one shot on the emergency scene, and it often can be the difference in life or death. To be ready for this, and to achieve the level of readiness that let’s us exude pride, we must constantly train.
Every department and firefighter across the country will tell you that training is vital, especially “functional training”- no one can argue that. However, many departments lack the resources to adequately train their personnel to the standards expected from the communities in which they serve. This lack of training opportunities could be from a variety of factors facing both large and small departments alike. And, if a department is able to provide training to it’s personnel, it usually comes in the form of the crew being taken out of service, given instruction, performing a drill or evolution one time, replenishing resources, and then returning to service.
While this might satisfy a governing body’s requirements- it is not training! Training is the act of teaching a person a skill, and learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skill through experience and repetition. We learn by “Muscle Memory”, by performing an action over and over again until it becomes second nature- and in our cases, can be performed at a very high level, under the worst conditions. To achieve this level of mastery, and to have the attributes that we all take pride in, we must take our training programs a step further and incorporate functional station training into our regimens. This is where we ran into problems. Though we work for a large, well funded department, we had no way to refill cylinders at our station. Our department has several fill stations around the City and a mobile air truck- of which the operator became very upset with always having to deliver cylinders to our station, because of our high level of functional in-house training. This pain led us to the development of a new way to train. Enter- THE BLASTMASK!
The BlastMask is a training regulator that attaches to the user’s face piece and provides the same sound and feel of training in an SCBA, without the need to refill cylinders. Now, a firefighter can perform any drill that is in a non-IDLH atmosphere, whether it be search drills, RIC drills, MAYDAY drills, SCBA orientation, confined space, hose evolutions, tower evolutions, vent props, functional fitness drills, forcible entry, a public education event, a citizen’s fire academy, fit for duty testing, or whatever you come up with, and not need to refill their bottle. The BlastMask is in no way meant to replace on-air SCBA training, but meant to give firefighters greater versatility in their training by allowing them to train anytime, anywhere, without the need to refill cylinders or take resources out-of-service. Firefighter’s who train with the BlastMask report greater air management, having higher levels of proficiency and being more comfortable in their mask.
Imagine the cost savings that departments and academies could experience through less wear and tear on expensive regulators and equipment, less labor to stand and refill bottles, less time out-of service on equipment, loss prevention of a recruit or volunteer due to claustrophobia issues, and the gains experienced by everyone from healthy, highly skilled firefighters who are able to train in both their visual and breathing environment at a high enough frequency to develop the skill, stamina, and psychological readiness to answer the call.
The attributes and values of pride, tradition, and loyalty that began in the fire service are still present today. However, in today’s fire service, we are asked to, “think outside the box”, “do more with less”, be more prepared for a wider range of incidents and to be better stewards of our community’s resources. We can accomplish all of these objectives through the use of training aids such as the BlastMask. Implementing the BlastMask into your training program will truly take your capabilities to the next level and give you- A New Way to Train!
Visit BlastMask.com to find out more information on this phenomenal tool today!
Collin Blasingame is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of BlastMask