Why role-play is vital in Fire Service training

Fire service training

Fire service training

We were fascinated to read in The Times (Friday 22nd February 2013) that Avon Fire & Rescue Service was using Dominic, a 200lb pig, to train its fire fighters in how to handle escaped or trapped animals.

We are preferred suppliers of Management and Leadership Training to the South East Region of the Fire & Rescue Service. And while we have never used a pig in our training programmes, we understand the value of using a live “role-player” in training exercises.

It’s always a wonderful idea to use mock up situations and role-play as tools for learning. Training in practical skills – whether that’s rescuing animals or handling a disciplinary interview – should always simulate the ‘real-life’ situation as closely as possible.

Of course, it can never be exactly the same as the real ‘here and now’ – nor should it be. The point of training exercises is to encourage learners to practise new skills in deliberately selected tricky situations, where it is still completely safe to make mistakes while you are learning.

And the vast majority of individuals in the Fire & Rescue Service appreciate that.  As they gain skills and competence in the leadership and interpersonal areas of their job, mock-up exercises using role-play are an essential part of their learning.

That applies to chairing meetings, holding a performance review, or engaging constructively in a difficult dialogue, just as much as it does to effecting a rescue in an RTC or a smoke-filled building.

For the record, there is no likelihood that we will be recruiting Dominic or his porky friends as role-players on our Management and Leadership courses. We tend to stick with role-players who can talk!

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