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The Life-Saving Significance of Trench Rescue Training for Firefighters

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Trench rescue training is often considered a high skillset for firefighters, with many departments reserving it for a select few of their members. However, firefighter training actually encompasses specialized training for all firehouse members to ensure the community receives comprehensive, effective service.

A trench rescue involves a specialized emergency response to people trapped within an enclosed or confined space. It can happen on public and private properties where any form of excavation is occurring.

Firefighters work to rescue victims by providing emergency care while securing the area and the trench walls for a safe, effective rescue.

Hazards of Trench Rescue Operations

Part of trench rescue training involves preparing firefighters for the hazards involved in this kind of emergency operation. So, let’s go over some of the risk scenarios that will be covered in trench rescue operations instruction.


A cave-in is a common result of trench accidents. This occurs when the area’s walls become unstable and collapse inwards. This scenario is especially hazardous when there’s a victim trapped in the trench.

Limited Access 

Whether the collapsed trench is within a building or on the grounds of a property, there can be a high chance of limited access to the danger zone. Trenches can be deep and narrow, limiting the ability to perform rescues.

Limited Visibility 

Regardless of whether the accident occurs during daylight hours or after dark, a trench rescue is often performed in pitch-black or dark conditions. This can increase the risk of danger for both the rescuer and the victim.

Hazardous Materials 

The location of the trench may expose the victim and rescuers to dangerous materials. For instance, chemicals and hazardous waste may be stored in nearby tunnels or bins.


Aside from the danger of a trench collapsing and sending debris onto the victim, these narrow and confined spaces may lack adequate oxygen supply.


Trench rescues may involve the risk of electrocution due to utility wires and cables buried beneath the ground or within the collapsing walls of a building.

Machinery Accidents 

Building and road construction sites are notorious for trench collapses. This is because the heavy machinery used to move dirt and debris increases the  risk for trench accidents.

Fatigue and Stress 

The rescuers’ existing physical or emotional state can add to the dangerous situation of a trench collapse. Let’s not forget that the physical demands of a trench rescue can lead to fatigue and stress. 

Why Trench Rescue Training Is Essential for Firefighters

Now that you have a better idea of the risks involved with trench rescue operations, here’s an overview of why getting proper training for these situations is so critical:

  • Saves lives: Trench rescue courses provide fire and emergency personnel with the education and proper training required to save lives.
  • Provides safety: Firefighters and emergency personnel need to be able to keep themselves and their team members safe during a hazardous situation to be able to help others. 
  • Complies with regulations: Trench rescues are dangerous for all involved. This type of rescue requires strict scrutiny and regulations to ensure all safety measures are adhered to for the victims and firefighters. 
  • Enhances skill set: With the increasing use of rescue equipment and techniques, it’s vital for firefighters to update their skills regularly. And this is especially true with trench rescues.
  • Provides a comprehensive service: A trench emergency can happen at any time at construction sites, abandoned buildings, and near waterways. Having the skill set to attend any rescue is part of the comprehensive services the local community expects.
  • Improves response times: Proper trench rescue training helps firefighters respond quickly and safely to any dire emergency with successful outcomes.
  • Prevents accidents: While firefighters cannot predict what will happen during a trench rescue mission, they can identify security issues that may lead to serious accidents or even death. This form of training and education can reduce such incidents as trench accidents.
  • Builds teamwork and trust: As with any training program, the knowledge received can help develop a bond of trust and reliability between fire team members.
  • Increases community safety: Trench rescue training programs are another step in a firefighter’s role in keeping the community safe.
  • Meets community needs: By offering the community comprehensive and reliable service, firefighters can better meet the needs of those they serve.

FESTI’s Trench Rescue Training Course Programs

The Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) offers trench rescue training for firefighters among its programs for fire and emergency services.

NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Operations

Candidates are required to have current Standard First Aid, CPR-C, and AED training before beginning the NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Operations program. This course teaches the fundamental techniques to rescue people trapped in a basic trench measuring no deeper than eight feet.

NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Technician

The NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Technician program requires candidates to hold valid Trench Rescue Operations certification before starting this five-day training. This course focuses on rescuing victims from complex trench emergencies through classroom learning and hands-on rescue training at our mock-up area.

NFPA 1006 Machine Rescue

Our NFPA 1006 Machine Rescue program requires candidates to hold pre-requisites of Standard First Aid with CPR Level C. With the advanced technology of machinery, it is vital for firefighters to be aware of and trained in rescue tactics involving emergency machine situations.

This course involves managing resources, incident and scene surveys, site operations, hazard and fire control, victim and rescuer protection, disentanglement and removal of victims, and building mechanical equipment operation.

Rescue Training Facilities at FESTI

FESTI offers a wide array of certification programs at our unique training location at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario.

Our facility has received certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). It is the world’s most widely used green building rating system and is recognized as a symbol of sustainability achievement.

We have modern in-classroom facilities in conjunction with training buildings. These include a confined space building, a rescue tower, a burn building, an auto extrication area, and a machine rescue area.

Our aircraft training mock-up area, hazardous materials training site, and a Trans Canada rail car (dubbed TransCAER CCPX 911) for superior training. 

Advanced Confined Space Rescue Training for Firefighters: What You Need to Know

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Confined space rescue training is a specialized skill to prepare firefighters and emergency personnel for hazardous and dangerous situations.

A confined space is defined as an area with no clear entrance or exit and is not designed for continuous use by people or animals. As confined spaces can involve vessels, tanks, sewers, pits, silos, tunnels, and ductwork, it is imperative that all rescue personnel possess the skills, knowledge, and equipment to ensure a successful outcome.

Hazards Associated with Confined Space Rescue Missions

  • Oxygen Deficiency or Enrichment: During a rescue from confined spaces, all parties involved are exposed to air quality with less than 19.5% oxygen. Low levels can lead to asphyxiation or suffocation. Danger is evident with high levels as well with an enriched oxygen atmosphere leading to fire or explosion hazard.
  • Toxic Gases and Vapours: Because of exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances, rescuers and victims can inhale carbon monoxide, methane, hydrogen sulfide, or other harmful gases.
  • Entrapment or Engulfment: Industrial buildings often see entrapment of rescuers and/or victims due to the materials handled such as water, sand, and grain.
  • Flowing Liquid or Free Flowing Solids: Confined spaces are at risk for being an open invitation for free flowing hazardous liquids that can cause the person trapped and the rescuer to experience burns, drowning, or suffocation.
  • Mechanical or Electrical Hazards: All commercial buildings have hazardous potential with live wires and dangerous equipment which can injure or cause a fire in or near a confined space.
  • Excessive Temperatures: Depending on the area of the building, the confined space can be exposed to extreme heat or severe low temperatures, putting victims and rescuers at higher risk of injury and death.

What Role Do Firefighters Play in Confined Space Rescue?

As with any form of an emergency situation, a firefighter works with their team to save victims from confined spaces while ensuring their own safety is not in jeopardy.

Within minutes upon arriving on the scene, firefighters assess the situation, create a safety perimeter, and plan a rescue with the appropriate equipment and skills. With each rescue, victims are assessed, provided emergency medical care, and transferred safely to emergency medical personnel.

How Can Firefighters Reduce or Prevent Confined Space Rescue Hazards?

  • Implementing Ventilation Measures: With a confined space, good ventilation provides the appropriate oxygen levels while removing all hazardous vapours and gases.
  • Using Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Gloves, respirators, and protective clothing are vital to all hazardous situations to keep personnel and the victims protected and safe.
  • Establishing Proper Emergency Response Protocols: A confined space rescue operation requires precise and proper emergency response planning to see a successful outcome.
  • Providing Proper Training: Having proper training in facing confined spaces and emergency situations can help reduce injuries.

Benefits of Advanced Confined Space Rescue Training

Firefighter training for confined spaces involves skills to reduce the risk of injury or death through enhanced safety measures. While all rescue operations need to be focused on the emergency, there are regulations and standards that need to be followed to keep everyone involved safe.

In addition, confined space training allows rescue personnel to have the knowledge and skills to perform in high-pressure situations regardless of the challenge. Specialized rescue methods can lead to the successful extraction of both the victim(s) and rescuers from within confined spaces. Every form of advanced training can support a firefighter in their goal to further their professional career.

How Does FESTI’s Confined Space Rescue Training Courses Help Firefighters?

The Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) is a private career college that offers training for firefighters, emergency personnel, as well as corporate and team building programs.

Basic Industrial Confined Space Rescue Training

In addition to basic firefighter courses, we offer the Basic Industrial Confined Space Rescue Training program. With the focus on confined spaces rescue response, participants will learn assessment and management of the situation before preparing for the actual rescue.

This training course involves confined rescue within industrial buildings and all that it entails in respect to area hazards and victim/rescuer conditions. The targeted area will then be reorganized to a safe environment.

Emergency Services Confined Space Rescue Training

The Emergency Services Confined Space Rescue Training offers step-by-step instruction on an emergency response in confined spaces situations. The program is designed with similar guidelines of the Basic Industrial Confined Space Rescue course.

Through classroom and hands-on training, learn how to respond to hazards, assist victims involved in a confined space situation, and obtain the necessary skills to manage all equipment and procedures for a successful outcome. Participants will learn to be part of the team with other responding personnel, understand the authority guidelines in emergency situations, and learn extensive rope rescue skills.

Confined Space Entry Certification

FESTI’s Confined Space Entry Certification program involves training of skill development for working within a confined space. Candidates will become familiarized with the Canada Labour Code, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and on-hands learning of equipment. The program focuses on air monitoring, personal protective equipment, simulated scenarios, and live activities.

Why Choose FESTI?

For comprehensive confined space rescue training in Ontario, consider the live onsite training at the Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI). Located at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, our experienced instructors provide intense firefighting training programs for candidates from across Canada and the world. Contact us to learn more about our training programs.

How Fire Departments Can Prepare Firefighters for Technical Rescue Missions

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Technical rescue training is key for any size or type of fire department. Fire and rescue services respond to an emergency call on a whim, and many times without knowing what waits to meet them. The basics of search and rescue missions should be part of the core competencies of firefighters.

What Is Technical Rescue

Technical rescue is considered a specialized requirement in response to fire and rescue services. It encompasses six main disciplines of rope rescue, confined space rescue, vehicle/machinery rescue, structural collapse rescue, trench rescue, and water rescue.

What Are Other Technical Rescue Disciplines?

  • Tower Rescue
  • Animal Technical Rescue
  • Wilderness Search and Rescue
  • Cave Rescue
  • Mine and Tunnel Rescue
  • Helicopter Rescue
  • Surface Water Rescue
  • Swiftwater Rescue
  • Dive Rescue
  • Ice Rescue
  • Surf Rescue
  • Watercraft Rescue
  • Floodwater Rescue

Why Is Technical Rescue Training Important for Search and Rescue Operations?

For a successful technical rescue, certified members must undergo extensive training in the six main disciplines. Each discipline supports the basic rescue operations of the others. Whether a team member is a volunteer, part-time, or full-time firefighter, search and rescue operations can be required during any type of emergency. A structure fire, vehicle accident, or an industrial incident can quickly require specific search and rescue skills as well as the use of suitable equipment.

What Is the NFPA Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications?

Qualifications of NFPA 1006 certification for a Technical Rescue Personnel position are obtained with training in the awareness, operational, and technician levels of the course. It focuses on rescue missions on land, water, and air.

Is NFPA 1006 Certification Necessary to Become a Rescue Technician?

The comprehensive NFPA 1006 certification is standard for all search and rescue technicians. Firefighters, emergency medical responders, and law enforcement are considered key candidates to obtain the NFPA 1006 certification in technical rescue operations.

Technical Rescue Training Challenges Faced by Fire Services

A technical rescue certification does not come without challenges. There are three main aspects of the training that can limit access to anyone in the search and rescue fields.

Not Having Experienced Instructors

As a technical rescue certification is obtained to enhance the safety, performance, and ability of a person in the emergency response field, access to experienced instructors is limited. The people with the training and expertise use their knowledge and skills in their own held positions. An instructor in technical rescue courses needs to have extensive experience and training time to provide proper teachings.

Not Having the Required Resources

Classroom and book instruction is just a small part of certification towards Technical Rescue Operations. It is imperative to have the proper resources such as the environment(s), equipment, and PPE for learning. Training for a water rescue cannot be done in a facility’s gymnasium, for example.

Not Having the Budget/Funding

One of the biggest challenges with offering Technical Rescue Operations courses to team members is lack of funding. Unlike major corporations in the industry of hazardous activities, fire departments may not have the budget to set up an adequate course that meets the NFPA 1006 standards.

How Can FESTI Help to Overcome Technical Rescue Training Challenges?

Those in the fire and rescue service do have the opportunity to obtain the highest levels of training and certification for Technical Rescue Operations at the Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI). Our world-class facilities are located within the fire service of Canada’s largest airport at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

All of our team members and teaching staff are experts in firefighting, emergency services, occupational health and safety, and airport emergency preparedness situations. We have the appropriate training grounds and provide advanced equipment and PPE for all training conditions.

FESTI’s Certified Training Programs for Rescue Technician Professionals

NFPA 1006 Technical Rescuer

To become a Technical Rescue Technician, our NFPA 1006 program covers all core competencies needed for certification. With demonstrations, hands-on training, and evaluations, candidates learn Incident Command System, Managing Resources, Incident Surveys, Scene Surveys and Searches, Helicopter Support Operations, Scene Safety, Single points anchors, Site Operations, Incident Size up, Hazards Control, Victim Management, Equipment Maintenance, Rescue Knots and Rigging, and Belay and Haul systems.

NFPA 1006 Confined Space Rescue Training

Learning to rescue from confined spaces is not for the faint of heart! Under the NFPA 1006 curriculum, candidates learn through instruction and practical training to recognize hazard and access, stabilize and package victims, and remove victims using the proper equipment and procedures.

NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Operations

Using the taught knowledge and available tools, candidates are exposed to hands-on training of the NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Operations course. By understanding safety measures behind rescuing a person from a trench less than eight feet in depth, candidates will have a better chance for a successful trench rescue.

NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Technician

The NFPA 1006 Trench Rescue Technician course takes the operations course to the next level with hazardous scenarios.

NFPA 1006 Machine Rescue Training

To be prepared for a machinery rescue, the NFPA 1006 Machine Rescue training program focuses on equipment use for extrication emergencies. Hand and power tools are used in various rescue operations. 

Aircraft Rescue Training

There is no better place than Canada’s largest airport to learn and obtain certification in aircraft rescue training. Instructed with real-life scenarios, the content taught is practiced with Aircraft Rescue Firefighter Training (ARFF) equipment and personnel.

At FESTI, we offer certifications for all firefighters, emergency medical responders, police service members, and corporate leadership members. Register for a course or program by clicking here and complete the webpage registration. Or for more information about FESTI, contact us today.