Hobbs firefighters were asked to walk on a plank of wood in groups of three or four and maneuver their team to different platforms without touching the ground during a team building activity Tuesday as part of Safety Stand Down Week.
The Hobbs Fire Department is observing Safety Stand Down Week Monday through today.
“Safety Stand Down Week happens every year,” Max Brown, HFD battalion chief, said. “We take a week and go over safety issues.”
Safety Stand Down is a joint initiative supported by national and international fire and emergency service organizations. This week is designed to increase awareness and action so safety and health become a priority in fire departments.
A group of three HFD firefighters were able to successfully get their team across an obstacle course of platforms with a plank of wood. The next group of four also succeeded but had to use more strategy to get their four men through the activity.
Brown, who was part of the group of four, said the team building activity was difficult, but was a good exercise on improving communication skills.
“It was four guys on a board and small platforms, but it’s good because it helps all of us,” Brown said. “These exercises take the rank out of it. We’re all working on communication so there are no egos. If you want effective communication you have to be a good listener. That’s where some guys realize I have to listen and at other times I have to speak.”
Kevin Shearer, with HFD and in charge of the training, said the goal of the activity is keep firefighters mindset in working as a team and helping them in communicating better.
“Everything we do is working together as a team,” Shearer said. “With Safety Stand Down, it’s a good time to go back and make sure all the folks are working together as a team and gives them an opportunity to go through a drill like this where they communicate together. They have a problem in front of them and they work it out as a team. Everyone gets involved in it and they have a little bit or fun with it but they learn a lot about working together as a team.”
Shearer said around nine teams completed the team building activity Tuesday and said each team received the same set of instruction but went about completing the task differently.
“You can see how some folks really think it through before they start and some folks get started and start thinking about it as they’re going. Everybody has a different mind set,” Shearer said. “But they start as a team and they end as a team. None of them have gave up on it no matter what position they get in.”
Meghan Mooney, City of Hobbs communications director, said the trainings done throughout Safety Stand Down Week helps build a stronger fire department for the city.
“We look at it as building a stronger team within the department,” Mooney said. “The stronger each individual is and them bonded together is just going to make the (fire department) excel.” This year’s Safety Stand Down theme focuses on mayday, self rescue and rapid intervention. HPD firefighters will continue classroom presentations, personal protective equipment inspections and team building exercises today.