Cutting torches are one of the best most expedient metal cutting tools at our disposal in the rescue world. Like anything we do in the fire service training and experience are paramount in our success on the fire/rescue ground, torch work is no different. Most torch training I have seen usually consists of firefighters placing some scrap metal in a bench vice on the work bench and then taking turns lighting the torch and making a few cuts in the metal, this type of training is essential and it does have its place to get firefighters comfortable with the torch… but where do we go from there? Is that pushing our training to the next level? Is that preparing us for the real deal on the rescue ground?
When we need a torch on the rescue ground it will be for crawling under a machine to free a trapped limb or operating in a building collapse, we won’t always have the ideal body position to make cuts. Well if that is the case then we need to ensure that we train to that standard.
Recently, Lt. Grant Light did a drill with the rest of his crew on Cincinnati Heavy Rescue 9. The drill was simple, they used a small piece of culvert with an “A” frame ladder at the end of it with pieces of scrap metal lashed to it. Each member had to enter the tube, light the torch, and make some cuts.
This allowed the members to practice cutting in extremely awkward positions… which is real life! Pushing your training to the next level is imperative, a cutting torch is only as good as it’s operator.