ORADELL, N.J. — Imagine teams of Oradell firefighters at their headquarters, each in separate rooms, communicating by radio while building structures made of Legos.
So much of what firefighters do relies on being able to communicate while separated, which makes the Lego exercise extremely useful, Fire Lt Joseph Gothelf said.
"We practice and train on firefighting skills often, but the only way to understand what to do is by receiving a communication from another officer," said Gothelf, who got the idea from a firefighting website.
"What we do with the Legos trains everyone to listen carefully to what you are told and to be able to react to those commands to fulfill a task," he said. "The same concepts apply in a fire."
Firefighters participating in an exercise on Monday split into into two teams subdivided by three groups — command, operations and logistics.
Assigned to a room with a completed Lego structure, the command group had to direct the operations group -- via radio -- how to build a replica.
The operations group then radioed the logistics team to bring in the required Lego pieces to complete the task.
"Some people were skeptical about the exercise in the beginning, but I think it went great," Gothelf says. "The biggest takeaway was that we needed to establish a common language and vocabulary at the start to make it work."
So how did they do?
Both came "very close" to completing the structure, Gothelf said, which was more than good enough.