On Monday 27 January, 20 fire-fighting instructors from across the Netherlands gathered at FireWare for a masterclass, with the purpose of brainstorming ideas about how to teach fire behaviour. It turned out that it was a major challenge to communicate this course material to students, even though the perfect teaching tool is readily available!
The masterclass was hosted by Hans van Essen of the Utrecht Safety Region. Hans can be thought of as the spiritual father of the Mini Fire Behaviour Trainer. Using this metal scale model, the build-up of flames and their behaviour during a fire can be studied. The participants then assessed whether it was a suitable resource for teaching about fire-fighting in buildings. The instructors also used their expertise to determine where further gains could be made from the design and use of the trainer.
A warm welcome
After being welcomed with coffee and treats, we took the attendees on a guided tour of our offices and showroom, giving them the opportunity to make the immediate acquaintance of our team. But then it was time for the masterclass, and FireWare's Sef Hendrickx opened the lecture with a brief introduction before Hans took to the stage to delve into the history and also some theory. That formed a good foundation for getting to work with the Mini Fire Behaviour Trainer.
Sleeves rolled up
The practical part of the masterclass saw the participants led, step-by-step, through the process of using the Mini Fire Behaviour Trainer as a teaching resource. A range of mini-learning experiences were explained, and points for attention and tips were provided as tools to facilitate their own teaching.
The biggest new insights
The masterclass concluded with a feedback session, in which the course was evaluated and new understandings summarised. The following were considered the most important:
- The wrong name
We originally marketed the device as the Mini Flashover Trainer, but in retrospect that was not the best idea. The name suggests that the purpose is to create a flashover, while a flashover (and backdraft) should be seen as ancillary elements when it comes to fire behaviour. The flashover can never be seen as the main purpose of this trainer!
- The importance of a skilled instructor
The Mini Fire Behaviour Trainer is not a toy. It is a complex learning and teaching resource that helps an instructor to get students to understand fire behaviour, and the instructor's own skills are the determining factor when it comes to the quality of the course. Given the wide range of mini-learning experiences, it is important that the goals are kept realistic. It is up to the instructor to develop his or her own style when teaching with the Mini Fire Behaviour Trainer, and when it is properly used the course participants can gain the greatest levels of understanding. However, that must always be done together with other teaching resources – and it is the instructor's job to find that synergy and to extend it.
- Teaching using scale models is underappreciated
It has been seen that those who start working with fire are confronted with a great many stimuli through a whole range of teaching resources. For example, when faced with a flashover container a participant's focus regularly shifts from the course material to the experience itself. A scale model will help in that respect, and because the course of a fire is completely natural in a scale model it is perfect for putting theory into practice.
Download the free whitepaper
We have created a whitepaper to assist you when teaching on fire behaviour that contains all the findings of the fire instructors. The whitepaper is available as a free download.
Watch our video
Watch the following video for a quick overview of our masterclass!