Maze at Redings Mill Fire Protection District not just for fun and games

REDINGS MILL, Mo. – Firefighters in Redings Mill are taking a unique approach to training.

When you typically imagine firefighter training, you picture smoke towers, pulling gear, running hoses, that sort of thing. Redings Mill trains all of their firefighters that same way, but, they’ve got a unique item they built: a maze. Deputy Chief Ronnie Metcalf says “This prop is very efficient at building the teamwork, it’s a great tool to use to get everyone thinking and communicating effectively.”

The a-maze-ing tool uses the jaws of life and blocks of wood and wedges to move the ball through the maze, until you get to the end. But, there are some ground rules that apply. “We have some basic rules and that is that you, as you utilize the tools and crib, which means you’re building a wood platform underneath, stabilizing the object, that once you build it up you can’t go back down, so you have to utilize your equipment appropriately and be most efficient.”

And those ground rules keep things realistic. “This also then works in real life when we’re extricating a person out of a vehicle so that every move that we make is purposeful.”

Firefighters say the training helps them build up teamwork and communication skills. But, they also get to have a little fun with it, like seeing who can get through the fastest. Engineer Chris Taylor says “Yea, we get a little competitive about it, it does get a little difficult trying to move a ball all the way down to the end, but, otherwise it’s a lot of fun.”

In the end though, it’s still about developing those essential skills. Taylor says “We want to be muscle memory, get up there, you know what you’re going to be doing, everybody has a role, and it speeds up our extrication as quick as possible too.”

Deputy Chief Metcalf says they built the maze about three years ago.