Dealing with dangerous situations and stress is part of the work of firefighters. According to the accident statistics of the German Statutory Accident Insurance (DGUV) for the volunteer fire brigades, accidents and injuries to the emergency services occur repeatedly during hazard defence and especially during firefighting. Understanding and applying effective teamwork processes within the operational force structures (platoon, squad, fire team) can reduce accidents during stressful situations. Teamwork processes can be specifically trained during fire protection training, but such training is not yet provided for in existing training guidelines.
Therefore, the aim of our project is to develop, implement and evaluate a professional team training concept for fire protection training that is specially adapted to this target group. The training aims to improve the team processes in operational force structures in terms of non-technical skills such as communication, coordination, decision-making and leadership behavior, for more safety and less stress during operations. The non-technical skills are taught in a practical manner using typical fire brigade case studies and trained in practical exercises.
In Study 1, we identify the requirements, stressors and resources of teamwork in fire protection operations in three consecutive partial studies: with the help of interviews with experienced members of the professional fire brigades, the volunteer fire brigades and the works fire brigades, with observations of operational exercises and with the analysis of operational reports.
In Study 2, we determine the prioritization of the various stressors and requirements with the help of an online questionnaire, in which firefighters from the professional fire brigades, the volunteer fire brigades, and the works fire brigades throughout Germany participate.
Based on the findings of study 1 and 2, we develop a target group-specific team training.
In study 3 we carry out this training within the fire protection training of the professional fire brigade of Cologne with a large number of trainees and evaluate it in a before-and-after intervention and control group design with the help of questionnaires, observation of operational exercises and physiological stress indicators. Further trainees serve as control group.
The primary result of the project is the systematic team training for use in fire protection education. The team training will be transferable to the training of volunteer fire brigades and works fire brigades, as well as to further training and education for already experienced fire brigade personnel. A comprehensive training manual with practice-relevant exercises and instructions will be created. The team training will be developed by us during the project and implemented in the education of the professional fire brigade of Cologne.
The transfer to other areas of training and further education of professional, works and voluntary fire brigades will be ensured in transfer workshops in the third project year. The result is a guideline with recommendations for the application of our training modules in voluntary fire brigades, works fire brigades and for experienced fire fighters.
In addition, a questionnaire for recording the requirements and stressors in teamwork in fire protection operations is being developed, which will provide comprehensive information about teamwork in the fire brigade. In addition, interviews and questionnaires will be used to identify further stress-related topics in the fire brigades' everyday work.
Further information and news can be found on the website of the project.