Blue Flower

As the new year is upon us, it is time to take a look what our group has accomplished in 2017. It was a busy year for us, as we were invited to several regions of Russia to conduct full-length, full-immersion primary search and RIT/FAST classes, as well as a number of shorter training engagements. In this article I will give you a snapshot of some of these events.

As a reminder, our typical full-length, full-immersion class sequentially covers three topics: fireground survival for search teams, primary search and introduction to search-based rapid intervention. The classes are typically 70 hours long, they run for 8 full days with additional one or two days of rest in the middle, and each day is a full-time experience with three homework assignments throughout the course and a final written and practical test. Activities include classroom presentations, skills practice sessions and combat evolutions.

We started the year by running a 7-day class in the city of Tver, located between Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Russian winter was in full swing, so Tver met us with a "warm welcome" of -5 degrees F (-20 degrees C). This presented a challenge as the wonderful semi-abandoned building of a former Soviet industrial-scale laundry facility did not have any heating (you can't expect more from a semi-abandoned building, right?).

But the layout of the facility itself could not be any better for running skills practice sessions and combat evolutions in primary search and rapid intervention! It was so huge that througout the week we almost didn't have to change any layouts, we were just moving on to another part of the building every day and we got ourselves a new layout. And there were both small and large areas to search. Not to mention two separate floors. Best of all, the building was right next to the firehouse.

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Huge thanks to the event hosts (Tver Regional Fire/Rescue Directorate and Tver City Fire Control) for such a great find!

Our next long class was in Saint-Petersburg and it was hosted by the Saint-Petersburg City Fire Control and Saint-Petersburg Fire Academy. This time we were running the class at the fire academy facility, which included wonderful classrooms, on-site cafeteria and a semi-abandoned dormitory as a combat environment. Although it was smaller than the laundty facility in Tver (but still large), but this was generously compensated by plenty of furniture. The floor that was given to us was previously used as a family-style dorm, but it also had some former classrooms and a sports equipment storage. So again, we had both small and large areas and tons of material to prepare very involved search scenarios.

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Many thanks to the hosting organization for their hospitality!

Another class we have done took place in the city of Kaluga, which is two hours south of Moscow. It was hosted by the Kaluga Regional Fire/Rescue Directorate and 2nd Special Ops Team of the City of Kaluga. This time we have used a four-story burn building as a prop (full basement, two storeys and a walk-in attic). One of the floors had two large chambers with movable walls which allowed us to change the layout between practice sessions and combat evolutions. This class was the longest ever, as we have increased its duration to full 8 days, plus 2 days of rehab for the troops and one more day before the class to prepare the layouts and props, so 11 total days for the instructors. This allowed us to spend first two days of the class on fireground survival, then four days on primary search, covering all four types of search (two days for small area, one day for large area, and one day for VEIS and along the hose line), and then progress to two full days of search-based rapid intervention. Increasing the class duration has also given us an opportunity to run more scenario-based combat evolutions.

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We have also done a number of smaller training sessions throughout the year and we have a few more already planned for the next year.

In the meantime, we wish all of you a safe 2018 and hope to train along with you soon! Stay safe!