As a new FF recruit (about 8 mos) we read the site religiously in order to get whatever tips I can, since we have small department with not much fire volume. The below close calls were all part of a live smoke training in an abandoned house we did last week. While they weren’t things that caused a lot of pause after the training sessions, it reminds me that the basics are ever important. Close Call #1 My partner and I are on the first evolution and we are training on primary searches. We make our way through the entire home, and are nearly completed with the search when I come upon what I expect is one of the surprises they claim to have for us. With the near zero visibility, my sweeping hand comes upon a small object and in the faint glow of light, it looks like a stuffed animal. As I chuckle to myself, I go to pick it up, and am impressed that our department could afford such a realistic prop cat. My hands wrap around its torso (I think, again, how impressive the doll is with its mass and slight squishiness) when its tail starts to wrap around my arm. At this point, I am sure that our department cant afford any robotic cat prop, and that this must be the real deal. I call over one of the instructors, who confirms my suspicions, and we immediately take the cat to fresh cool air, and administer oxygen therapy. Thankfully, although the cat was showing signs of oxygen deficiency and was very sedated, after a few minutes of oxygen, it became more alert, hopped up and ran home. This could have been bad for the cat, and bad for the VFD in terms of PR, since this was clearly someones pet. The close call was from: 1) not adequately securing the training structure when note in use (there were some small holes animals can get in through); and 2) not adequately searching the home prior to starting the smoking process to verify it was clear of people AND animals. Someone asked the question what if it had been a possum or a raccoon I smiled and raised my axe Close Call #2 My partner and I am are on RIT, when a MAYDAY call comes through (it is made clear that this is a training MAYDAY and not the real deal). We rapidly find the firefighters (one of whom is a rookie like me) in a back bedroom, who are disoriented and cannot find their way out of the bedroom (door shut behind them). It turns out that the other rookie really was a little disoriented and panicky, and as I was in the process of leading them to the door, he began to sweep with his axe, as if to resume the search of the house but unfortunately was swinging with the handle (rather than head of the axe) and rather than at floor level, was right at my heads level. Sure enough, his axe hits my head, and luckily my helmet was in between the two, or my wife would make me quit the department for sure! The close call was from: 1) Not emphasizing the obvious enough to recruits relax, dont swing your axe at head level, remember to hold the axe by the head, etc. 2) Not recognizing that the recruit was in a panicky state, so that we could reassure him everything was OK.