I think most people would agree that company level fire training is the back bone of our great profession, it is the day to day stuff that you drill on with your crews that has the biggest impact on our efficiency and effectiveness on the fire or rescue ground. So what are we looking for in a company level drill? Well for me it needs to be realistic, hands on, easily repeatable, and it does not require 4 hours of set up time.
One of the little props I came up with for machine rescue training is a way to make cheap limbs that we could use to get entangled in different pieces of machinery that we could find. Using the typical rescue mannequin hands was usually a little to difficult due to the hand not bending or reacting like a real limb. An easy prop that you can build at the firehouse for under $10 is take an old pair of work gloves or fire gloves and fill them with expanding spray foam (the type you use for insulating around doors and windows). Simply spray the foam into the glove, be sure to get it down into the fingers and only fill the glove up halfway. Hang the gloves up on a clothes line to dry and expand. Once the foam is dry you can use a serrated knife to trim the access foam from the top of the glove.
What you end up with after the foam dries is a firm, flexible, realistic hand that you can use several times for anything from machine rescue to impalement drills. It works great and is extremely cheap to do.
If you are looking to add even more realism to the prop you can also add an arm to the prop. To add the arm take a pool noodle and insert it down into the wet foam and then add some additional foam around the pool noodle, when the foam dries it will have “cemented” the noodle into the glove. Adding the arm works great if you want to entangle it into a lawn mower, snow blower, some rollers, etc.
You can also make a quick and easy leg the exact same way, simply take a shoe or boot and fill the toes with foam and then stick the pool noodle down into the shoe and fill the foam all around it. To make it even more realistic you can add clothes to the leg to make the rescuer have to cut the clothing away from the machine also.
This is a simple, cheap, easy way to make props that will help you out a ton with your in house training.