State Fire Service School optimises tunnel train-the-trainer courses

In cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg State Fire Service School, the International Fire Academy has integrated online elements into the tunnel training for the first time in order to increase the practical part of the attendance days in Switzerland. The basis for the changes was a survey of former participants. The wish list included more time for practical training on the facilities and more substantial support for conducting training with the fire services at home. We present the new approach introduced in the autumn of 2022.

Online pre-course conveys the required specialist knowledge

Two weeks before the journey to Balsthal, the train-the-trainer course begins with a preparatory course. Participants meet live online so that they can ask questions directly on all topics simultaneously with the training. The compact curriculum covers the theory of structures and hazards, the respective operational tactics (rail or road, depending on the focus of the train-the-trainer course) as well as organisational matters. All joint teaching materials now bear the logos of both institutions: the logo of the International Fire Academy and the Baden-Württemberg coat of arms of the State Fire Service School.

This dual authorship makes the lecture slides an official training document for all participants to use in their training work at their home fire services. In preparation, the Baden-Württemberg State Fire Service School checked all statements and technical terms in the presentations. The contents remained the same and corresponds to the Swiss tunnel firefighting procedures. However, individual technical terms were adapted to the language used in Baden-Württemberg for the new train-the-trainer courses.

Attendance phase of the course - a chair would be a relief

After arriving the evening before, the participants prepare themselves for training by 07:30 on the first morning of the course's attendance phase, receive a safety briefing and start the first drill shortly after 08:00. The schedule is tightly timed. Detailed lessons follow in the morning and afternoon until the day's evaluation at 18:15. The next morning, operational drills are practised intensively. During this sequence of activities, quite a few participants reached their physical limits at times. For some, a chair might have been a relief.

On the second day's afternoon, presented tabletop tactic scenarios form the conclusion. The results after six two-day train-the-trainer courses in two weeks were very positive: Thanks to the very practical and operational training, the participants stated that they are now confident to deploy in railway or road tunnels. And that they have gained a lot of knowledge and experience that they can now pass on as Multipliers.

Online follow-up course provides ideas for training at the home base

The online follow-up course follows four weeks after the stay in Switzerland. It focuses on how the Multipliers can design the training at their home base. It includes advice on how to cooperate with railway companies, for example. These teaching materials are also available for use by the fire services. These training materials reassure the Multipliers: They can assume that they conform with their regulations and thus that their actions align with the current teaching in Baden-Württemberg.

The participants also gave positive feedback after the third and last part of the train-the-trainer course: They feel well prepared for their task as Multipliers. The teaching materials provided are considered comprehensive, practical and helpful, and thus support their fire services training.

In addition to many other teaching documents, such as teaching posters and leaflets, the new Baden-Württemberg-specific teaching documents can now also be downloaded from the website of the International Fire Academy in the «Knowledge» section». A simple registration beforehand makes the teaching materials available to you free of charge.

20 years of cooperation on fire operations in tunnels

With the new train-the-trainer course, the International Fire Academy and the State Fire Service School of Baden-Württemberg have accomplished another milestone in their more than 20 years of cooperation. Since 2001, the two teaching institutions have been working together to support the fire services on fire operations in tunnels.

Since 2011, the State Fire Service School has been organising training for Baden-Württemberg fire services at the International Fire Academy. Representatives of the State Fire Service School have participated as members of the International Fire Academy's Didactics and Development Team in the development of the road and railway tunnel firefighting procedures, and the International Fire Academy, for its part, has supported the Baden-Württemberg Tunnel Task Force. Fire services from other regions also benefit from the results of this cooperation. The development of similar train-the-trainer courses is now also available for other state fire service schools. For more information, please get in touch with Marco Nigg.