Absence of certified training, what would qualify you to be a firefighter?
We hear alot about experience, but what should that experience include?
Mere years in the service doesn't automatically qualify you. Many have stood on the peripherals and never really gotten active to the point that they would dress in turnout gear, don SCBAs and initiate an interior attack. "Oh, he can run the pump, so he doesn't have to dress for the fight".
So, the question is: if you do not take state sanctioned firefighter training, what measuring stick do you use to measure competency in your firefighters?

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Wow, talk about having to think about an answer. Almost 29 years on the line, a thick folder full of paper which says I should be. Texas says I should be. Teaching fire and EMS courses over the last 15+ years, and I can't answer that I'm definitely qualified. I've made many, many fires of various types and intensities, seen the most brutal medical and trauma situations one can imagine, and I still have gotten into situations where I wasn't sure I was qualified for.

Well, I'm here doing it day in and day out, I sit with books and classes to enhance my knowledge and or skills. I learn something every time I prepare material for weekly department training. I will probably still get into situations I may not be sure of. As fast as things change in this profession, I can't say with any certainty, that I'll ever be truly qualified. But I'm doing the best I can.
Have a minimum of 3 years solid experience in the department as an active firefighter
The problem I have with this statement is, is it documented what is considered solid? Or is it open to interpretation.

In terms of accountability in the legal system, I'd urge that this needs to be well documented and very black and white....
Have a minimum of 3 years solid experience in the department as an active firefighter...

... means that the person shows up to all calls when available, actively participates in all drills, gets some actual fire scene experience, and generally shows a willingness to a) do the job without complaining, b) show a strong sense of teamwork and c) is not in the business just for the thrill of it.

That's about as close as I can come right now to defining it. We keep response records from year to year so it's not hard to prove.

We have a lot of guys hitting the 25-year mark in a state retirement system that has full retirement at - you guessed it - 25 years. So...we're losing lots of experienced people to retirement. We send every firefighter that doesn't have IFSAC or Pro Board FF II to the state fire academy recruit school for essentially 2 months. They come out with IFSAC Hazmat Ops, FF I, and FF II as well as state certifications for Extrication, FLAG firefighting, and medical first responder.

Due to the retirement thing, if we made all of our firefighters get three years of experience before they went interior, we'd have to close at least one and possibly two stations or make those stations EMS only. I don't have a problem with sending a certified FF II with a few training burns under his/her belt into a working fire with an experienced officer or senior firefighter on the line.

We have one truck/rescue company, and we rarely have a new firefigher there. If the truck has a new firefighter, that firefighter is always paired with the officer.

It works well enough for us that we were able to get our second 5-year international accreditation last year.

Perfect, no. Good enough, yes.
A very smart man once told me "Perfect is the enemy of good enough."
I haven't met a perfect firefighter yet, but I've met a lot of them that are very, very good ones.
Ben, it definitely is a conundrum. I agree that it is impractical for a career department to wait the length of time we do, but I suspect there is a big difference in the number of calls we see, vs. how many your (or for that matter any career) department responds to in a 1 year period.

In your scenario, you have a graduate FF who is paired with the officer, possibly with instructions to "hang onto my coat tail" when going in. The probie's education continues under the direct supervision of an experienced officer.

In our town, we can go months without a working fire. When we get one, there may - or may not be - an experienced officer or even firefighter to pair a probie up with. Sometimes we have to go in with mutual aid firefighters. During the day we may have only one interior-qualified person around. It's all a crap shoot.

A couple of months back we had a meeting with members of a career department to our east. They have expressed concerns over the credentialing of volunteer FFs responding mutual aid to their calls. They WERE pretty impressed with our regimen for training interior attack people.
Would the Time-Life how too book qualify me? Ok I didn't think so.

I agree, state training should be MANDATORY for all people to be considered firefighters. Having a national standard that ALL STATES adhere to would make it easier also (and would ensure an even playing field). Departments faced with manpower issues (especially daytime) find themselves faced with untrained people, or people who are of the age where firefighting should be limited to exterior light jobs. Instead of mutual aid they attempt to fix the issue and yet only cause more issues.

Great topic Art I, I am intrigued as always to continue reading.
I understand your training regimen. I hope you never have to test the legal system's scrutiny of how you - or any of the rest of us - do it.

Stay safe, brother.
If, at that moment in Time, when you are willing to take everything that you have learned and have made the critical decision to go in with a diminished chance that you might not get out alive, but continue on to search for that victim that might still be alive or at least revived, does that "qualify" you?
Who has made that critical decision and can share their thoughts here?
I know that I have always THOUGHT that I could lay my life on the line for another, but was never "tested". Who has been tested and can articulate that here?
Hello good topic, training I feel is a big factor in firefighting. Our Dept. is a rather small Dept., with a big district to cover. We have drills every other week as well as outside training classe's, which include other area Fire Dept's. I My self do not consider My self a fully trained Firefighter yet. I do have a long way to go, and as they say you never stop learning. I learn something new on every fire we get called to. I feel that in most westren rual community's, the trainning mostly is done with in the Dept. Now to say this is wrong I canot say, I know with our Dept only a few are Firefighter 1, 2, and 3. We do not have full time Firefighter's, allthough a few I feel in a way are they make most all of the fire call's. I Myself look up to, and have learned a lot from the few who have been on most of there live,s. I canot say that by going to School to learn to be a Firefighter , or by learnen just by picken up a tool or a hose and getten the job done is to say how qualifyed you are. I do feel that some training before going out on a live fire, is a big facter in working safe and to be knowlegable in fire behavior and how it works and changes. I Myself have been through Essential's, Flash Over, Extrication Awar's and Opp's, Hassmat Awar's and Opp's, N.I.M.S. Training, as well as Flammable Liquid's, Gas's, and N.F.P.A. Live Fire Training. Our Dept also has yearly Driveing tests on all Vehicals, for Tenders and Engines We do a full D.O.T. Driveing test. I have been on numerous fire calls and mutual aid calls, I also have a Class A C.D.L. now wether all this make's Me qualifyed that is for you to decide.
I have to wonder, why send someone to training to perform a task, if you're not going to let them perform that task for three years? The purpose of training is to train personnel to perform a task to standard, in other words to qualify them to do the job.

When I read you post, the following three items look like a qualification to be an interior Firefighter:

Complete the NYS FF 1 class
Complete the 32 hour County mask confidence class
Be in proper physical condition

This item, looks like a qualification to lead an interior attack team:
Have a minimum of 3 years solid experience in the department as an active firefighter

From my experience, training is only the first step, but it does certifiy that the individuals have the requisite knowledge to perform the task. Essentially it makes him or her an "Apprentice Interior firefighter" and only experience performing interior fire attack will ever make him or her a Journeyman, or Master Interior Firefighter.

Your department must be a volunteer department, because I don’t think any paid department could afford to have employees on the payroll for three years without being able to perform a job they are trained to do. Three years sounds like they have to become part of the Good Ol' Boy network before you let them go inside.

My forgot if it was my chief or captain that once told me "An exterior guy is just as good as an interior guy".
GM, you are correct in that we are 100 per cent volunteer, in rural America. I agree that no career department can afford to wait that long to train its workers. But then, as I stated before (I think) a career department is structured such that a probie's education after FF1/2 continues under the direct supervision of an experienced officer or senior firefighter.

The three years' experience in active firefighting can comprise activities in other areas: pump operation; exterior horizontal and vertical ventilation; overhaul; and general scene support activities. In other words, everything except going inside and doing interior attack and/or search and rescue. Whether or not three years' participation in exterior activities qualifies one for the "good ol' boy" network, I don't know.

By the way, the 3 year requirement is also mandated by the county, and is usually sufficient to weed out the wannabes and adrenaline junkies from the good ones. But we don't see that many in the volunteer ranks, do we? :o)

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