I am realizing more and more there is a large disconnect between the older "Veteran" members and the newer (0-5, heck 10yr) recruits. As I look around on training night I see two groups. There are the ones (same every week) that take firefight training to heart. They strive to improve and learn and help those around them that might be lacking in certain areas. They train to prepare themselves for the unknown, as many have yet to "feel the heat". The ones that are consistently taking courses as if their life depends on it, Oh wait, it does. Only to look across the hall on Monday night to see another group shooting the ... breeze. Laughing and joking without a care in the world.

Slowly the the enthusiasm starts to diminish and questions arise, "Why don't they train?", "are they laughing at us, because we are breaking a sweat?", “Why do we have to train if they don't?" Oops, almost forgot a group, the ones who show up on meeting night to devour some snacks, crack jokes and offer complaints, but no solutions.

I have often thought of ways to correct the problems. I’ve tried to encourage the veterans to help the newbie’s. Give them some insight to what they may expect. This quickly was shot down as the "latest to learn" group would interject "but that's not how we were taught!" "Its safer to do it this way" or "that's the old way, its changed now".

Soon the bickering escalates and the famous line is spoken.... "We've always done it this way, its always worked, we're NOT changing". And that's that! Suddenly its The Old against the New! The rookies holding fast to training and strategies recently provided by structured lessons, and the elder’s sticking to "I've been in the department longer than you've been alive."

How do we break this internal self-destructive cycle? The disconnect spills into company operations and response. As members are discouraged to learn because in the long run ... everyone is allowed to go to the scene, regardless if they have met NFPA guidelines. (I don't even want to tackle the method of arriving to the incident. We'll leave that for another post)

We need to work TOGETHER and promote learning! Fires have changed, and so has the technology and methods of attack. As safety, early warning devices and prevention education continues to improve, the number of on-the-job learning experiences diminish. Along with it, are the opportunities that once held us together as ONE!
Suggestions welcomed.

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very well put
My friend, if you can find a solution to that age old issue, market it. You will make a fortune. I as an old dog, love to show the younger people, that while I might not have all my teeth, I can still bite. This in turn kinda shames some of the elders into participating. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But at least it shows that some old dogs will learn new tricks and if the others want to keep up they need to participate.
Thank you. The service needs more like you. I appreciate you taking the time for some insight from "the other side of the fence" so to speak (ha ha). Honestly, I mean it. I am in the "middle" bracket. I hope I can maintain the same fortitude as you still demonstrate.
OMG, this sounds as if I logged this myself! I opened these conversations hoping to find some insight on this very subject and this, the first one I open, is exactly what I wanted to say. When you tell them the fires have changed, they laigh, "Yeah Right. A fire is a fire is a fire."
Maybe so but what is making that fire is something they have never dealt with before.
"I have breathed in more smoke than you'll see!" Is my favorite or how about this one, "I take my 30 years os EXPERIENCE over any book or class any day" a classic. Well what we do is let the "old-timers" sit there and laugh at our sweat because when it comes down to the nitty gritty of it all, they do the same thing on scene. Which is a good thing.
Don't get me wrong. You guys that have been on since the "steam days" so to speak, have every right to be on the departemnt and to voice your opinions as to how the departments are run and how the money is spent (if there is any). But when it comes to training, there is a DAMN good reason why we do it. We call it survival. Again you laugh! "Don't talk to me (cough-cough) about survival. I have fire in my lumgs!" Believe me Brother, that is something I will never say. I have fire FIGHTING in my blood and I hope to pass that on to the next generation. Thanks for the time.
The question is, how do we change the mindset of our experienced brothers/sisters? I believe it will come down to "safety" and "leadership". I had the opportunity to attend a "Courage to be Safe" NVFC presentation recently, and what really woke me up, was the speakers very definitive statement, 'We are killing F/F's at the same rate and the same way every year. I decided then, that I'd rather see them walk out the door than carry them off a scene.

We (the command structure), have to have the courage to force change to safer methods and techniques. We have to be the lead, on scene and in training!

Of course, I'm preaching to the choir, because the people we are talking about, probably don't spend much time becoming informed, through the trades or online.

Also, just to clarify who I am, I did my 1st structure fire in 1971. I'd be "stupid" not to recognize changes in building construction/contents and improvements in gear/equipment. I'd be "negligent" if as an officer, I didn't do everything I could to protect my people, including making and enforcing changes to SOP.

" Experience provides the ability to face your fears, training provides the knowledge to kick it's ass!"
Those sentiments are exactly what i was thinking...but my main problem is the "cockblocking" for the few that want to excell...and survive.. at firefighting. My "chief" is old school with a twist...he expects you to know what to do....but wont approve "outside" training...IE, IFSI online training, mutual aid departments invite, state funded classes...etc. he is "reluctant" to approve anything if he isnt interested. I have friends on some other departments...and have been invited by them and approved by thier chief...only to be denied by mine.
My question is; should I alienate myself and go to the other department invites, or blindly follow my chief? Dont get me wrong... my department has a good training officer...but I want more...training that is...I waant to serve my community and department to my fullest. Your opinions matter. Thanks!
Well to fully your chief blindly could land you in a world of hurt. I think you should go to the other department invites and perhaps be able to take back what you learned and teach others at your station.
I dont have an answer at all but if you can find one I need to know I dont think you could find a department anymore devided on training and working together then ours. We have all the groups you mention.
My biggest thing that I have seen and I am not sure how to solve it, is the disrespect from both sides. The newbies don't want to hear from the older generation and vise versa. Granted it isn't everybody and I don't mean that everybody does it but, there are enough that do and that is the problem. You are right in the fact that some of the older members that have been around for a long time don't like change and that is a problem in this day and age. The newbies also have a problem with not wanting to learn from the older generation and that causes a rift. The older generation can teach the newbies somethings that haven't changed. We all need to work together like you said. We also need to respect the older generation and the newbies. If you can get everyone to respect each other then you may be able to get everyone to train together. It is the best that I can come up and it probably doesn't help much. Be Safe...
Patrick, That is a difficult situation. Have you asked your chief why he has that attitude with outside training? My thoughts and actions have been to gain and encourage training whenever I can. There is constantly new tools being developed that may require a different tactical approach requiring training you may not be able to get through your department.
ISO evaluations awards points which can lead to a lower tax assessment for your community for training with neighboring departments. This training can lead to a more efficient extinguishment, extrication or rescue by identifying possible limitations ahead of time. Knowing how your "new" partner at a mutual aid call, trains (functions) will help to avoid delays you may encounter because he/she has not performed say 'ventilation cuts' the way you have, or you unsure of the proper operation of their hydraulic tool.
Learn...Learn...Learn! Not all of what you'll learn will you use, but it will give you the toolbox of knowledge and ability to become more efficient and perhaps develop a better way to do something.
As the old adage goes "Let no mans ghost come back to say, my training let me down." Good Luck!
AMEN, BROTHER. That sounds exactly like my department right now!
I am a firefighter with nearly 50 yrs in service, and I welcome the training i get on all the newer methods of firefighting..That said. I also relate different things that i have seen in the past to my dept, thereby giving them the insight of how things have changed in the past 50 years.
Guess what? this past year, I was awarded the Firefighter of the Year for the little antidotes and information I have passed on to the "younger" generation. Probably the biggest surprise in my life,,,and very much appreciated. An old dog can learn new tricks if they want to.

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