Buffalo MAYDAY Training

Lieutenant Ronald K Bourgeois from Buffalo (NY) Engine 1 sent in this video of a MAYDAY prop they are using in Buffalo. Unfortunately, the motivation for the prop and annual training came from the tragic loss of two of Buffalo’s Bravest on August 24, 2009. Lt. Chip McCarthy and FF Jonathon Croom both fell from the first floor into the basement while searching for a reported person trapped in the structure. (We recently received some additional information from BFD about this training. The training was in the works well before the tragic LODD. The planning and development of this training actually began in January of 2009, before the LODD incident, not as a reaction to the incident.)

The purpose of this prop and training evolution is to build confidence and promote self rescue techniques. The portion of the prop shown in the video is part of a confined space maze that ends with the blindfolded firefighter falling through the floor. The collapsible floor section is activated by an instructor pulling on a rope, removing the hinged floor section’s support. Once the floor section collapses, the firefighter falls into a pit filled with foam. The pads end up surrounding the firefighter making movement a bit more difficult, similar to having debris from the collapse. The prop also contains a window at the end of the foam pit so the firefighter can practice self rescue form a high window. The prop cost was roughly $450, and was constructed with 2×4’s and ½” plywood. The trap doors were hinged with three heavy duty hinges, with a lip underneath for support. A hinged 2×4 holds the doors up and a rope is the trip mechanism.

Unfortunately, we cannot take back any of the LODD that occur in our line of work, but we can learn from them and try to prevent them from occurring again. Training evolutions like this are an important component to learning from them.




78 Comments so far

  1. John Rose June 2nd, 2010 5:26 pm

    Excellent training aid. Well done to the crew at Buffalo (NY) Engine 1. This type of thinking and training will make your job safer. Thanks for sharing.
    LT John Rose
    Wakefield Virginia VFD.

  2. FitSsikS June 2nd, 2010 8:04 pm

    Great prop and drill.

    It’s good to hear the increase in the respiratory rates of those ffs involved. That is stress and that makes for a realistic training environment.

  3. LadderDriver June 3rd, 2010 9:19 am

    Great prop! I built one for my station and the fellas dismantled it, so we couldn’t train with it. So much for training and brotherhood here.
    Hope your members get a lot out of it. I’m sure they will. Sorry for your departments loss, keep the faith!

  4. 13 Truck June 3rd, 2010 10:06 am

    Good job boys. It’s sad to say that a good training prop usually comes from an awful tragedy.

  5. 42Truck June 3rd, 2010 1:25 pm

    I recently took a 2 part MAYDAY course given at my station. This class was an eye opening experience and every single firefighter that took it came away with alot of knowledge. Heres the link to the video of myself doing the whole obstacle course. http://www.maydaytraining.com

  6. i hate sparks June 5th, 2010 12:25 am

    Okay, so you fall through the floor…. then what? The carpentry job was nice but, when you go through a floor there isnt a threashold two feet in front of you full of foam . usually its fire and floor joists. i think some of you guys………ah , i ll leave it alone…….

  7. fdfish June 5th, 2010 9:40 am

    We use a simmilar prop in our training. Hope we never have to use it for real. Stay safe!

  8. The Hills Bravest June 5th, 2010 9:49 am

    Great Job Guys on the training. Good Prop for a scenario such as that. Just wondering Lt. Where did you find the foam cubes? Right now we use an old mattress as padding for our floor collapses. Thanks and Always Stay Safe Brothers!

  9. FitSsikS June 5th, 2010 10:29 am

    Clearly the foam is an option used only by those low on testosterone.

    Most big city dept in my running area would subsitute broken glass, a bed of nails, pulled meters, a pan of burning gasoline or idealy a combo of each.

    Oh ya, and there should be a wall where some sort of kick 😉 would have to be used to breach it.


  10. RSFDNY June 6th, 2010 1:10 am


    Having been in a major collapse I must tell you that the your mind immediately goes blank at first. Then depending upon the conditions you are dropped into, the fight or flight occurance goes into full gear. I was in zero visibility, a decent heat condition and entangled. I NEVER gave the Mayday. I was too busy trying to save my own life. If I gave it, the optio of having someone get to me would have at the very least been an option.
    Everything we do in the fire business is repititon. Mask on….Mask off. Take Tools….put tools away. Test Hydrant….shut hydrant down. Mayday fires send basic functions into the shithouse. Lines shut down. men are out of position and more than one person is going to wind up dead or in the hospital. Having “props” enables the operating membership in busy and / or slow departments to engage in the task of finding their radio mike, losing the floor and embracing anxiety, increase in air comsumption and disorientation. “If” you are a fireman I shouldnt have to explain any of this to you. Having many “simple” fires go to shit in my time has humbled me to the enth degree. Take what these brothers have come up with and expand upon it with your less experienced members. Add a propane fired heater blowing in on them. Whatever it takes to train them safely, efficiently and to encourage them to maintain situational awareness at all times. Fires change in 2 seconds from, “We got this” to “It’s going to kill us.”
    Stay Safe

  11. brickcity1306 June 6th, 2010 8:51 am

    Nice prop we have something similar but I think I am going to modify it a bit with what you have done. Just wondering how you kick out the leg or is it by body weight..

    Thanks again Jimmy

    Ohhh,,, and just ignore sparks I will have someone give him a hug and a rub on the back and he will be ok..

  12. FitSsikS June 6th, 2010 12:42 pm

    Re leg: It’s my guess that it’s ‘pulled’ (triggered) from behind through a hole on the plywood (back wall).

  13. Drew Smith June 6th, 2010 2:47 pm

    We got free foam from an upolstery shop in our area. We have two kinds of these shops: One does boat interiors and the other does couches, chairs, etc. Both have lots of scraps they toss when they trim a big piece for a job.

    It appears to me the foam under the “floor” knocks it self out when a FF puts his weight on the floor.

  14. swcoloff June 6th, 2010 3:56 pm

    we were building our own Mayday prop the day I came across this. Showed it to the rest of the crew and we decided to use the same collapsible floor section. Thanks for the idea!!

  15. John Douglas June 6th, 2010 7:23 pm

    We just built a whole course similar to this . How does your floor collapse mechanism work tho? We are having trouble with our design. Thank you

    Lt. John Douglas
    Okauchee F.D.


  16. Sn33kR - 2 Truck - TFD June 6th, 2010 7:33 pm

    It says in the initial description that the floor is activated by an instructor pulling on a rope when the firefighter gets into position

    Great prop, hope to build one for our department…as for the foam….its always better to have something someone wants to train with more than one time and the safety boys are happier when all hands are still available to respond

  17. Jack Wilson June 6th, 2010 7:40 pm

    Good Stuff…..Way to be Proactive form a Reactive problem!

  18. Ryan June 7th, 2010 8:18 am

    Awesome stuff..love the prop, would love to see the plans.

  19. Scooby90 June 7th, 2010 9:03 am

    That’s awesome. Sorry for your loss brothers. This goes a long way in getting closer to what it’s like when the floor goes away. I have never had a floor disappear but have had a leg go through. The comment “everything stops” is absolutely true. Keep up the good work all who are coming up with props to train ourselves. Remember, creativity is the way to better training and in the end-a job done better. Stay safe.

  20. Mauricio Martin June 8th, 2010 10:08 am

    I commend you for your excellent mayday simulator , could send the drawings or mayday simulator measures?
    be safe

  21. Jimm June 9th, 2010 12:01 pm

    We recently received some additional information from BFD about this training. The training was in the works well before the tragic LODD. The planning and development of this training actually began in January of 2009, before the LODD incident, not as a reaction to the incident. We felt this additional information was extremely important to add to this post. It has been corrected above. My sincerest apologies to the Brothers and Sisters of Buffalo Fire for the mis-representation of the timing. -Jimm-

  22. nobody special June 11th, 2010 11:47 am

    speaking from experience – please make sure you empty your turnout gear pockets before doing this, so after you send your whole department through the collapse you dont clean out the foam pit to find a large unsheathed non-folding knife sitting in the foam blocks waiting to ruin someones day.

  23. Kyle R June 14th, 2010 9:11 am

    It looks like the door is held up with a 2×4 the foam is just wrapped around it for padding

  24. brickcity1306 June 14th, 2010 12:25 pm

    Jimm any chance in getting a hold of Ron and getting the answer about how the leg is actavated ?? Thanks

  25. Jon D June 14th, 2010 1:55 pm

    This is a great prop! We would like to add it to our department. Can we get the plans or measuremnts. I can be contacted at jdeyo@drexelfire.net Thanks

  26. Chris Belcher June 14th, 2010 4:04 pm

    I would love a copy of the plans, one for my Dept. and make copies to share. belcherct@owensboro.org

  27. youngin June 14th, 2010 10:49 pm

    this is what its all about folks. ingenuity and finding new ways to train on things we may very well encounter. i too would like a copy of the plans. msenter@svtfd.com
    great job folks … and may the two brothers from buffalo rest in peace i know they will always be in your hearts…stay safe out there folks

  28. brickcity1306 June 15th, 2010 7:00 am

    Pass on the Plans brickcity1306@yahoo.com PLEASSSSSSSSEEEEEEEEEE

  29. Julio Martinez June 16th, 2010 1:47 pm

    hi we are a volunteer fire department in Mexico and are interested in a copy of these plans is excellent!

  30. Julio Martinez June 16th, 2010 1:48 pm

    if anyone wants to visit us and support us in our training are welcome

  31. Mauricio Martin June 20th, 2010 7:24 am

    if could give me a copy for my FD too it would be great.

  32. truck7 June 20th, 2010 12:30 pm

    great prop! but one thing, notice the firefighters are grabbing the top of the halfwalls for support, when they go out the window they are reaching around and grabbing the sides-front of the framing (3:18 1:21 1:31), this is something we have to remember because in a real situation you wont have those to grab onto, this pertains to anything you may need to use that window to get out for anything, not just collapse, we cant always do the head first bail and it might not even be a mayday situation, you could be returning from a VES. food for thought here guys.

  33. Carl Westbrook June 20th, 2010 10:38 pm

    Awesome prop! Excellent tool. I would like to build one for the departments in my area. If someone could share the plans it would be greatly appreciated. irishfire402@hotmail.com

  34. johnvbfd June 21st, 2010 7:41 pm

    I agree with truck7. The only bad thing I noticed with the prop is maybe sticking small sheets of plywood around the top and edges so guys can’t grab around the prop like they were doing.

    Only other thing I saw missing, and I know it was just for training was the lack of tools. Always a good idea to carry tools even during in-house training.

    Great idea and going to see if we can construct something similar here.

  35. steve shiber June 21st, 2010 10:20 pm

    Great video and training prop. I would like to get your plans to build it. I am the Rescue Captain on my fire department and this prop and training would be vital. Thanks

  36. Pat Hanley June 22nd, 2010 1:54 pm

    Great job with both the training and the prop. I build all of the props for my department and also conduct the training. If possible, I would like to get a copy of your plans. Thank you. Take care, stay safe and keep up the good work.

  37. Pat Hanley June 29th, 2010 7:34 am

    Sorry about above, email is firstduetraining@aol.com . Thanks again.

  38. Nick Pierce July 13th, 2010 10:16 pm

    I would also like a copy of the materials list, email is: npierce1811@gmail.com

  39. Jon D July 16th, 2010 10:36 am

    Has anyone gotten a copy of the plans? If you have can I get copy? My E-mail is jdeyo@drexelfire.net Thanks.

  40. Kelly Wingert July 18th, 2010 3:00 pm

    Great prop. If anybody has the plans please email me a set. kwingert229@hotmail.com.

  41. Jim Schultz July 23rd, 2010 3:50 pm

    Would love to get a copy of the plans for this wonderful prop. Please email me at jschultz@mcallen.net

  42. mislandw July 26th, 2010 9:41 am

    Excellent training prop. Would love to get the plans. Please e-mail me at jhoog3@cfl.rr.com

  43. andrew July 28th, 2010 2:49 pm

    Awesome prop, we are thinking about doing it down here in Md, can someone please email me the plans.

  44. andrew July 28th, 2010 2:49 pm

    sorry here’s the email ajm0714@gmail.com

  45. Terry August 3rd, 2010 3:10 pm

    Just like almost everyone else, I think this is a great training tool and would love to build one for our department, so if the plans could make there way to tbutchart@hotmail.com that would be great.

  46. Bruce August 9th, 2010 3:06 am

    This is a great training tool. If anyone has a copy of the plans could you please send them my way my dept. would like to build on thanks. sbvfd24@firehousemail.com

  47. Juarez26Latonya August 9th, 2010 9:21 pm

    People deserve very good life time and business loans or secured loan would make it better. Just because people’s freedom is based on money state.

  48. Tom August 21st, 2010 10:18 pm

    We have a very similar prop in our SCBA maze. Ours is hinged on one side, and is help in place with magnets like that are on secured doors. It is tripped with a remote button. Since the hinge is on one side of the 4×8 sheet, one side drops and you end up rolling. It works great in getting you disoriented and trying to find which way is up and out.

  49. OhioFF/medic September 13th, 2010 4:47 pm

    Excellent training prop! As far as Sparks comments are concerned, if you want to build your simulator with joists and fire, go right ahead……as for the rest of us, I think training as realistic as possible without injuring or killing our brothers and sisters is more of an option….Nice job Engine 1 crew, stay safe out there!

  50. Raymond Brahier September 26th, 2010 11:18 am

    I would really appreciate a copy of the plans so that we can build this prop at my department. Thanks

  51. Ali Jahanfard October 1st, 2010 5:04 pm

    Great Prop.

    Ali Jahanfard

  52. David D'Arcy October 4th, 2010 3:35 pm

    Had a similar idea for a prop. This certainly does the job. Nice work. Anyone with the plans please forward my way as well. ddarcy@middletownfireacademy.com

  53. Jason Floming October 5th, 2010 12:38 pm

    I made a very similar floor collapse prop, but I like the way the floor gives out on this one much better. It looks like all i need to do is re-do the collpasing floor. How does this give out? I seen someone said a pull on a rope triggers it. Any help or info would be appreciated. jasonf@getzfire.com
    Thanks and stay safe

  54. Jason Floming October 5th, 2010 12:48 pm

    Also, where did you get all of that foam? For our prop we use air bags and old bunker gear….its a pain in the ass to setup and tear down when done. The foam would be much easier.

  55. Ryan October 5th, 2010 1:24 pm

    Jason, check with local manufacturers in your area. Someone may be a foam maker, and while you are there do a preplan!

    Or google always works too.

  56. Peter Eaton Cp. Inst. October 20th, 2010 10:01 am

    Thank you guys. And RS FDNY.
    We are in the planning stage for our new maze. We have the c-can in place and are looking for ideas and features to include. I had been thinking of some kind of breakaway floor and you have given it to us here.
    And, thanks for the window/wall prop. we are going to build it, the material is already in the c-can.
    Thank you very much.

  57. Nick Agorastos March 2nd, 2011 6:19 pm

    Great job on the prop guys. I agree with one of the posters in that we always carry a tool with us but in this particular prop the tool needs to be left out. No matter how much foam you use if you land on the pointed end of your Halligan or the sharp end of your axe you may be looking at a C-1 or a lawsuit. If you still want to train carrying a tool maybe a sledge hammer could be used. This is a great prop to simulate mayday situation in stressful conditions. You can definitely hear the increase in respiratory rate when the guys fall through and give their maydays. I like many others would like to incorporate this into our current prop. Could someone please let me know where I could get a copy of the plans. grkmedic@aol.com

  58. Keith Hicks March 29th, 2011 5:25 pm

    Great job on the prop guys, Could someone please let me know where I could get a copy of the plans.plan on building one for are college keithwhicks@hotmail.com
    thanks keith

  59. Rick Pasley May 16th, 2011 2:56 pm

    This is good stuff. Can I get a copy of the plans?

  60. Rick Pasley May 16th, 2011 2:58 pm

    This is good stuff. Can I get a copy of the plans?


  61. Keith Hicks May 24th, 2011 9:55 am

    Can I get a copy of the plans?

  62. Roger June 5th, 2011 10:40 pm

    Staff at our academy just finished this prop and we are all conducting in service training on it now. Our drop floor is air actuated and you fall onto a foam like gymnastics pad. Then we have a cinder block and a haligan bar in the room which you can use to assist yourself in self rescue out the window which sits about 4-5 feet off the ground. All of this is done while breathing air, blacked out masks, and activating the EB button and broadcasting your mayday. Over all it’s a great simulator that focuses on the fundamentals, which we could all use more of anyways.

  63. RobertW July 25th, 2011 4:26 pm

    Please let me know how to get the plans for this. Awsome prop.

  64. Jim LaMacchia August 26th, 2011 12:22 pm

    I have a line drawing and materials list that I can send via email. Contact me at jlamacchia@bfdny.org.
    This has been a great tool for us and would be happy to share with all interested.

    Jim LaMacchia
    Buffalo Fire

  65. Brian h May 4th, 2013 8:55 pm

    Awesome prop can anyone send me the plans to build it for my department …brian20006966429@aol.com

  66. A. Standifer May 10th, 2013 11:01 pm

    I would also like the plans if someone could help me out. I am initiating props and a build for our department. Thx in advance!

  67. Nate999 May 14th, 2013 8:11 am

    Look up two comments above yours. It is the contact info. for the BFD brother who sent in the post.

  68. Mark December 15th, 2013 8:08 am

    Can someone please send me the Prop Plans to build this? I want to make this part of our survival school.

    Mark R


  69. Zach Adams March 8th, 2014 12:50 pm

    Could you send me the plans to this prop? It would be a great piece to have for our next fire1 academy. Thanks

    Zach Adams

  70. Chief James bennett December 16th, 2014 12:22 am

    Could I get a copy of the plans for this please

  71. Wesley Tidwell January 8th, 2015 4:13 pm

    I am wanting to build this prop for our training center. Does anyone have the plans any material list they can send me? Any help would be deeply appreciated be searching awhile for plans with no luck.

  72. Brenden watson March 13th, 2015 4:12 pm

    Would love to have the plans and materials list. Thanks in advance!

  73. Nate999 March 20th, 2015 6:41 pm

    To everyone looking for plans…see the below comment…

    Jim LaMacchia August 26th, 2011 12:22 pm

    I have a line drawing and materials list that I can send via email. Contact me at jlamacchia@bfdny.org.
    This has been a great tool for us and would be happy to share with all interested.

    Jim LaMacchia
    Buffalo Fire

  74. Jordan Mills October 19th, 2015 1:14 pm

    I would love to have some plans on this prop for training. This is a great way to show floor collapse. -Jordan Mills (Lakeport Fire Department)


  75. Chris Brown February 29th, 2016 3:22 pm

    I would like a copy of the plans please

    Lt. Christopher Brown
    Auburn Fire Dept

  76. Alexander Donahue March 30th, 2016 1:21 pm

    I would love a copy of the plans for this training prop. This would be a great addition to our training equipment.

  77. Dunklinfire_emt September 6th, 2016 6:48 pm

    I would also like a copy of the plans or at least some more detailed pictures . Looks like a great prop.

  78. Nate Gens September 14th, 2016 11:45 pm

    I too would love to get a copy of the plans to build this. If anyone has them, please send to nathan.gens@co.lake.mn.us. thanks in advance.

Leave a reply