Been on my Fire Dept for 5 years now. We are a Small Town Volunteer Department, we average 20 calls a year, 50% of them being medical assist with the local ambulance the rest being run of the mill fender benders, grass fires and not savable structures. We dont get paid per call and our pat on the back is literally a steak dinner and a t-shirt every year. I`m happy with that.
What scares me is I`m 27 years old, currently the new Assistant Chief/Training Officer and highest trained individual on our department because I completed a FF1 & 2 = Hazmat Awareness and Passed the state test. Granted this is on paper and there are guys with experiance on my department that training cant trump till I gain the experiance. I have a desire to learn, eat, sleep and breath anything to do with the fire department. I even get pumped to go to the ICS classes no one wants to attend. I realize not everyone can have that same desire and isnt less effective if they don't.
We do not train very often (1-3 times a year) and we havent had a real savable structure/rescue since I joined. I dont know what my guys can do and they should feel the same about me. Reason being is even if its possible to know everything thing there is to know about our job they or I don't know eachother skill level because we havent needed them or tested them in training. I lack the confidence in knowing my fellow FFs are equipped to perform safely and effecvtivly and they dont seem to desire to know this about myself or 5 other newer FFs on our department.
I thought having the position would be easy to get others motivated. Last night I got really scared. I brought up the thought of training 1 time at least, and picking a set day and time. Some feedback I heard was "What do we have to train on that much?" "This will never happen" "We are already busy enough meeting for business 1 time a month" "Whats wrong with the way we have been training?"
Currently we are sitting with 5-6 Guys Under the age of 35. 5 Guys between 35-50 and all the rest (12) are over 50. And almost no one to fill a spot let alone the potential spots that could be left open by guys who are thinking of retirering. So we can just say "Train or Leave" Expecially when majority rules and I`m in the minority.
We haven't been taxed buy a serious indecent, and I`m afraid someone is going to get hurt or even die. It isn't always going to be a cake walk and I'm looking for any advice I can get. I don't want to turn a blind eye or wait for fate to reveal itself. I`m sick to my stomach and don't know what to do.
Check with your counter parts in neighboring departments, maybe you guys can set up a schedule where each dept hosts a training session. Alternate where you have the training so everyone has the opportunity to attend something at their own station. You might get better training out of the deal. I bet most of the guys that don't want to train believe the FD is just another social club like the Elks, Moose...etc and now they have a social event to go to, if they accidentally learn something while they are there you can "apologize" to them later.
Just remember to start small and build slowly if you want it to last
Mike, I know where you are coming from. I am the training officer in a small vol. dept in va. We have set our training day on one Sunday a month. We start with breakfest @ 730 and start training around 8. Some days training is only 2 or so hours and other times it can last all day. No matter what you do you will never have all your members show up. We have a 50 man dept with 10 Jr. members (15 - 21 yr old) and most of the time only 10 to 15 people show up, they are also the same people that show up at a fire call.
We run about 150 calls a year, 60% are MVA, 30% are fires and the rest are public assist calls. I started in this dept when I was 16, stayed in for 4 yrs as a Jr. member, joined the military, 20 yrs later came back and re-joined in 2000. Went back through the state FF 1 & 2, state EMT and was just a fire fighter for about 2 yrs. Chief assigned me as a Lt., stayed there for 2 yrs, our training officer stepped down and the chief appointed me as training officer and I am still the training officer, I am also one of the biggest Ass H**** in the dept because I harp on TRAINING. I try to provide the most up to date training nout there with the budget and resources we have. The chief and I provide the training, now weather they take and learn from it is on them.
Also our Jr. members also meet every Wed night and go over the trucks and equip with only 2 to 3 officers around and we let them run there training sessions. Just an idea if yaul have jr members.
I have been in the EXACTsame place as you!!!! Rember slow is fast, you are going to make 2 steps forward one month and 3 back the next. DO NOT give up they all know better and know they need to train. Your fellow Firefighters are all scared as you are are to show their skills arent up to snuff and dont want to be exposed. If you go to fast in your trainings you will lose them. It has taken me 4 years and it has only realy starteed goin smooth the past 1.5 years.
Talk to your Community College that is close and use your Minnesota board of Fire Fighter Training and Education grant money to bring in someone to help once and a while the funds are there to use use them.
I don't disagree with thr advice some of you ae giving. BUT, and it is the huge white elephant in the room, if the chief does not support the change in amount, and intensity, of training the OP wants to do it is a futile, uphill, FOREVER, battle that he will end up losing. The first member that needs to be swayed is the chief...not the firefighters.
May I suggest that you get your training as best you can and start a Junior fire program. The explorer scouts in your state may be able to assist you in this venture. Firefighter I curriculum is an excellent place to start the Juniors with their training. Invite the regular department members to attend. if you get one or two firefighters from the junior program to go into the regular department when they turn 18 that is two more than you had when you started. Meanwhile keep your training up. Don't falter. Don't let the other guys force you out. Make a plan and start the ball rolling. Don't think that your department is the only department suffering from this "We don't need training" attitude.
I took a class decades ago about how to change your department. I used many of the tactics learned. These are not overnight solutions.
1- Make you ideas the chiefs ideas. Things don't happen over night but find how the chief thinks. Make your idea become his idea and he'll back it.
2- Find the alphas of the group or click. There are people who lead without the white helmet good or bad. Get them on your side.
3- Teach without them knowing how thier learning. The best tactics class I had was after a house fire I ran and an ex-officer questioned some of my decsions and for the next 45 mins we sat around talking about what happened good or bad. Take a couple of guys out to help a neighbor do something on the roof - ladder training, Wet down a roadway somewhere - hose handling. Put up a maze and have races. SCBA and S&R training.
Nothing happens overnight. My department went through the same thing. We would have 8 FF on the engine 1- was always on the hydrant, 1 would stand across the street and talk to the crowd, 1- was a good roof guy but wouldn't go inside. So we might have 3 who would actually put the fire out. But over time it changed. Never had to worry who was on the engine because we knew the job would get done.
Its frustrating I know but don't give up.
Can you imagine the attitude and interaction having explorer scouts come into a department and tell the veteran firefighters how to do their job? Regardless, if they are trained, ego's have got to play a significant role in acceptance of a Junior fire program helping with any kind of training. This can't be a guaranteed positive outcome every time, can it?
I'm not saying not to do training, but instead questioning this methodology. Wouldn't it be better to do your own homework, figure out what kinds of calls are run, the time of year and the needed resources to come up with a very simple blue print starting point as to what kind of training you need to have special focus on beyond the basic firefighter skills we all need to know.
In my opinion, the only place Fire Explorer Scouts need to be is at an established fire department where department members are trained and very capable of doing their jobs. Children should be trained by adults. Adults should be trained by adults, not by children.
Can you imagine if you had a clue to what a rural fire dept is like. Great idea a Jr program in rural Midwest. We don't have enough kids to put ball teams on the fields say nothing about come hang out at the fire hall.
Sorry Captain busy try make sure your suggestion is relevant to the situation before you get busy next time.
Which is it: it's a great idea to have juniors in a fire department or; if you can't field a baseball team how can you get juniors into a fire department? Really, besides you're being a dick to Mike for his comments (35 years, retired, Captain, LA Fire Dept.) your own comments are fuzzy, unclear, contradictory and condescending. But then, with your extensive 5 years in the fire service I'm sure you know what way more than Mike does.
Good on you, keep your mind and your parachute packed, tight and ready to go.
Andy, Do you seriously think that I am going to allow the opportunity to call bullshit on your post? Ok, fine... You want to engage, so be it...
In looking up your department I noted the following:
Ormsby Volunteer Fire Department in Ormsby, MN is a private company categorized under Fire Departments. Our records show it was established in and incorporated in Minnesota.
Noting that your full time job is an insurance agent in a small rural town and a volunteer fire department chief officer, I would expect a more respectful interaction from you based on your rank and position within the business community. But then again, seeing that you have minimal experience, and have not had the benefit of real world firefighting I'm guessing that you don't often have someone cross you, especially when what I posted was absolutely relevant to the situation.
Are you telling me that you would underwrite an insurance policy providing complete coverage for the children at the fire house conducting the various types of fire service training? It's a given that having kids or anyone for that matter in and around the firehouse, equipment and responding vehicles is a major source of liability.
Which are you? A professional insurance sales agent, knowledgeable in the field of insurance and liability or someone who shoots from the hip. Your dismissal of what I suggested means that you are pro children in the fire service, and using this particular example, a dysfunctional fire department with little or no training. And you are willing to put kids into that kind of environment. Poor judgement in my opinion. If anything, wait until the department is strong enough to be supportive for the kids. It's the Chief of the questioned fire department to handle this, not Fire Explorer Scouts (children).
Please note that my first paragraph focused on how rough a decision it would be to have children train adults. Your first paragraph copied what I said and then rambled on about kids on ball teams hanging out at the fire hall. WTF? Does this make sense to you now that you are rereading your post.
My second paragraph offered possible solutions to help prioritize the type of training put together by the department. Your second paragraph scolded me for my suggestion not being relevant to the situation as if your opinion was insightful or valuable in any way.
And my last paragraph expressed and was qualified as my opinion that adults should be trained by adults and not children. Your comments infer that it's ok to have children train adults on how to be a firefighter.
Why on earth would or could you take exception to the train of thought I expressed, and to the point of being incredibly rude in the process, e.g. before you get busy next time.
This is not how rationale fire officers or adults for that matter discuss or even argue points. At least it's not in my world. It certainly draws to question your title as a chief officer within your department. This must have been one of those self appointed positions verses my world where you had to actually earn the badge from years of training, preparation and one final thing that I believe that you lack... experience.
We can all be rude here on the FFN, and generally speaking, most of the time folks here are pretty civil. Nothing I said to you or the posts author was inflammatory or discriminatory. You on the other hand came off as an inexperienced line firefighter who owns an insurance company in a small town and has the time to serve as a chief officer because you love the identity thing. In that regard sir, I suggest you act like one in the future. I'm not impressed and I doubt anyone else is either. If you are going to be a chief officer, then act like one.
I offered a salient personal perspective and some ideas as to how to improve things. What I shared was meant to help others, not be derogatory. That's always my intent when sharing things here on the FFN. Reread what you wrote here chief, and re-evaluate your mind set as a fire department chief officer. Respect is earned, not demanded and you certainly have not earned mine.
Mike Schlags, Fire Captain/Paramedic (Retired) aka Captain Busy
Mike, I didn't say the explorers would train the adults. What I meant, but probably didn't state it correctly, was that start training the explorers to assist the adults during ff operations, but not go in to fight fires. Just to assist. Assist by securing tools, set up lighting, Setting out tools for the RIT, replace broken hoses. You train them to FF I lesson plans so that when they become 18 they take a FF I course and are now members who can do the job of firefighters.
Our Junior Auxiliary is 60 years old. Our past junior members have gone on to become Fire Protection Engineers, Chief Officers of career dept., career ff in career dept.. Every officer in our dept. is a past Junior member. Train for the future. Although, some of our present Junior members can probably teach the adults a thing or two about firefighting operations.