Saturday, May 16

8 a.m. — 5 p.m. 

hoarding: working in the pile

We present to you a first-of-it’s-kind Hands on Training opportunity designed to heighten student’s awareness of the impact that hoarding conditions impose on firefighters at dwelling fires. Hoarding conditions and their hindering effects on the fireground are not being discussed enough in todays modern fire service. After developing a classroom presentation on the topic, the idea of a unique Hands-On-Training class was born. It is one thing to lecture about the negative fireground aspects of Collyer’s Mansion Conditions but quite another to give students the chance to see the limitations first hand before encountering them at a live incident.


This HOT program debuted at the Metro Atlanta Fire Fighters Conference 2017. Cobb County Instructors along with Firehouse Magazine Editor-in-Chief Tim Sendelbach traveled to a training building during the 2016 Conference to discuss the creation of a Hands-on class. 


“Hoarding: Working in the Pile” is designed to give students an eye opening practical experience of operating in a hoarding condition environment. Students will have a chance to build on their personal limitations when faced with a hoarding challenge as well as some basic skills to overcome these scenarios. Due to time constraints only a portion of tasks can be reviewed during this course. The most basic and fundamental fireground tasks are incorporated into this class to provide students with a solid foundation to build upon. The layout was made simple for training purposes. Each task has been broken down into a relevant “station” that will have groups of students (based off total class size) rotating between stations concluding with a full class participation scenario at the end. The fireground tasks/stations focused on in this class are summed up as follows:


-Forcible Entry: This station is based off a Battalion Drill conducted by Tom Hancock and Keith Schneider. It will focus on working on a doorway that is severely cluttered both in front of and behind the door. Students will have to work on a forcible entry prop in low visibility that has been boxed in with clutter. The Forcible Entry prop, once forced will only be able to be opened about 1/2-3/4’s of the way making students navigate a restricted passage to find and remove a dummy in hoarding conditions. Candy smoke and a heater will be present to make the scenario conditions as realistic as possible.


-Basic Engine Company Operations: In this station students will advance a charged 1.75” attack line into the building through a severely cluttered maze like condition in a smoky environment (smoke machine). Here, the students will face challenges such as the inability to work a loop of line into a corner due to piles and obstacles, losing the line due to poor line contact and management, and potentially become disoriented if contact is lost with the line. Good habits will be rewarded with successful completion of the station while bad habits and loss of the line will depend on the student(s) abilities to work a potential mayday scenario. A Smoke machine and heater will need to be present as well to keep conditions as authentic as possible.


-Search & Rescue / VEIS: Vent, Enter, Isolate, Search is a staple on the modern fire ground. This station takes the student through a VEIS scenario with the focus being whether the student can successfully isolate the room after he or she has taken the window while encountering a hoarding condition. If the student is able to isolate the room can he or she perform an adequate search under hoarding conditions in low visibility and remove a victim with limited assistance? This station is designed to build and reinforce good basic skills, as well as recognition of limitations and judgement. A smoke machine and heater would also be set up to add to authentic conditions. 


-Alternative Hose Stretch and redeployment: Hands down one of the more common tasks faced at a Hoarding fire. The purpose of this station is for students to adapt to conditions being faced and work to find the most effective way to get water on the seat of the fire. They might encounter conditions that are nearly impossible to transverse and other forcible entry concerns behind a doorway. This will require them to stretch a 1 ¾” handline through a window or other means of egress. From there they navigate through a cluttered zero visibility environment in close proximity to other stations (to increase the stress level) and seek the seat of a simulated fire. 


The Afternoon portion of the class shall consist of a class wide evolution incorporating all of the morning session skill sets to simulate an actual incident. During the course of the evolution a firefighter will be chosen to become trapped by a falling pile of debris. It will be up to the students to attempt rescue efforts (locating, conversion, air and removal) in a severely cluttered, hot and zero visibility environment. It is important to keep the stress level high throughout the evolution as well as to keep the evolution conditions deteriorating. The evolution will conclude with a “no win scenario” or an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the firefighter. The purpose of this is to hammer home the point that despite an individual’s comfort level, training and ability, even the best firefighters die on this job every day, and hoarding conditions only increase the likelihood of such an event. Smoke machines, heaters and even “outside noise” will be incorporated to enhance realism and keep the stress level high. It is important to understand that this culminating event is not intended to psychologically harm any student but to solidify the point of the dangers of complacency, hoarding conditions and the job as a whole. The day will conclude with a rehab style debrief and comparison with actual LODD events that included hoarding conditions.


Cost Concerns: 


Safety: Safety is paramount! Due to the Dynamic nature of this hands on training Instructors will be vigilant of all students throughout the entire exercise. Hydration, proper food intake throughout the day and heat / exertion awareness will be maintained by all instructors and students


Logistical needs and concerns: 

  • Fair oaks building has been used in the past

  • Class size limited to 30 

  • “Clean Clutter” of anything imaginable to stuff the stations will need to be gathered, this can be assisted with zero visibility to give the impression that more clutter is present.

  • An equipped Engine Company and preferably ladder company for tools, power, ladders, etc.

  • Exterior fire pit(s) help enhance realism by giving students the smell of smoke and contributing to the “ole factory” senses.

  • If apparatus are light or not available generators will be needed to power smoke machines, heaters, etc.

  • A Rehab area for students to cool down such as a tent or shaded area

  • Maze like props will have to be networked and built.SCBA fill station or spare cylinder availability?

  • Atleast 3 Manikins for search stations one of which dressed in turnout gear

  • Generator to make up for power issues that have been encountered at every class. The smoke machines pop the breaker from station 2.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: Bunker gear, helmet, gloves, airpack, mask

Cost: $80

INSTRUCTOR: Will Heiney is a career firefighter in his home State of Connecticut and is a former Live-in firefighter at Berwyn Heights Fire Station 14 in Prince Georges County, Maryland . Will is returning after being an instructor at MAFFC 2016 & 2017. Will is an instructor for the Middlesex County Fire School and Fire Training Innovations LLC in Connecticut. Will considers himself to be a constant student of the fire service and takes great pride in having the opportunity to be apart of something as great as MAFFC.