Props to an Engine Prop

I’ve seen departments spend upwards of $5,000 for a forcible entry door prop. These props are beasts, designed to take repeated beatings while firefighters hone their skills in forcible entry over the course of hundreds of repetitions. Typically the great cost is worth every penny to ensure they hold up. I also recently spoke with a department that purchased a trailer mounted ventilation prop that through the use of hydraulics could change the pitch, giving firefighters a variety of ventilation scenarios. When I asked them how much they paid for that prop, they chuckled and said that they couldn’t afford it; hence it was paid for with a regional training grant. To make a long story short I have seen a lot of truck company props lately and I have seen a lot of vendors taking advantage of the prop business. Maybe that is why I believe it is important to compose a quick piece on a Brother working on affordable, functional and versatile props for the engine company.

group shotLast week I was given the opportunity to grow the presentation Gaining Relative Superiority: The 2 ½” Attack Line. The regular two hour program was expanded to a full day, including 5 hours of hands on training with the support of Elkhart Brass, Shur- Sales, Fire Nuggets, Castle Rock Fire Rescue and some outstanding partner instructors. The class was full at 40 students, representing 22 Colorado departments and thousands of gallons flowed. While there is certainly a lot which can be discussed about the class I wanted to specifically talk about the Canvas Corners prop and how they added to the class.

hydrant1One of the best parts about last Friday’s class was a relatively quite drill ground; no pumps running, just water flowing and lines moving. Since we were working only with 2 ½” hose and 50 psi nozzles we ran the entire day off of hydrant pressure. We had an engine on site but it never ran and served as little more than a rig to stretch from and a manifold.

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We also used a 4 story tower which was a great platform for the standpipe connection station and Denver Fold demonstration but the layout of the interior of the tower limited our interior advances. Additionally while working in a dark training tower is a realistic challenge it makes it difficult for instructors to coach and other students to observe.

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This now brings us to the Canvas Corners prop. Lieutenant Dustin Courter started designing and fabricating these props after working with Aaron Fields on the idea of creating hallways and corners for firefighters to stretch, flow and advance through in an open area. By setting up hallways and corners up in open areas the layout could easily be changed to build adaptation and the light of day would allow for true coaching of technique and peer observation of the effects of good and bad on the operation.

CC7For the class we used the mid range prop package which in our program provided two completely separate drill stations. When we added a couple Redd Boxes it was expanded to 3 separate drill stations (two hose management stations and the interior hallway advance). When you consider the fact that this prop package, a few sheets of plywood, water barrels and a few pallets all totals less than $1,000 bucks, and hose lines run completely off of a hydrant you can start to see the value of doing a ton, with very little. As a department without a training center, an instructor or training group that travels or a company officer that wants to provide good in house drills this is a game changer.

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With low pressure equipment and the Canvas Corners prop we turned a parking lot into a very active drill ground with 10 firefighters operating simultaneously.

The following are excerpts from Canvas Corners and pictures of the props in use at last Friday’s class or from other set ups they have shared.

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“Canvas Corners is an economical option that allows you to build solid hallways anywhere from the Home Depot parking lot, apparatus bays, grass fields, or in addition to a training tower for new and more challenging evolutions. New and different training helps keep firefighters interested, even with state of the art training facilities Canvas Corners will help you do just that. Quick set up and change up you will find more time focused on training versus prepping and easily stored to keep Chief happy.”

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“Think outside the Corners when using these props, Canvas Corners are not just an Engine Co. Prop, they are also used for search, RIT, and drag out scenarios. Also use the tools you already have to create more challenging, i.e. side of the firehouse as a wall to get the corners you are looking for.”

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I had discussed this prop with Lt. Courter before the class on Friday and was intrigued. After seeing how quickly they set up, were changed around and how they held up to 40 students and a full day of 2 1/2″ operations I was thoroughly impressed. I look forward to using them whenever possible in upcoming classes in the area because they can truly make something out of nothing, or more specifically make a center hall end unit apartment stretch out of a fire station parking area.

For more information contact:

Canvas Corners Dustin Courter  (303) 570 – 6420 E-mail:


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