Shane Ray's "Rethinking Volunteer Firefighter Certification" article will make some waves...

The new superintendant of the South Carolina Fire Academy asks some tough question and offers some creative solutions to the problem of volunteer firefighter certification and just what that should mean.

 

Here's the article: http://www.firefighternation.com/article/training-0/rethinking-volu...

 

It is thought-provoking, to say the least.  What do you guys think?

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This is a link to the trainning program that I am taking in British Columbia Canada. It is a newer program that alot of volunteer departments in BC are turning to for certification.

 

http://www.cotr.bc.ca/fire/cotr_web.asp?IDNumber=162

Ben, I like it! Here in New York we have a Scene support Class. I will admit i was not a big fan of this program when it first came out. But over the last couple of years it has proving to be a good starting ground for many guys who have joined in the fire service. All of our guys that have taking this class have gone on to take there firefighter 1 ( except for guys that are just fire police) but they have to take scene support or FF1 on our department. We also make all our members take a annual physical and have to take OHSA refresher- Haz-mat refresher and Blood borne pathogen's. We also require you to retake class's after so many years. We believe if we are going to do a professional job we better train and be certified in what we do. I have no issue with there being a national certification program being in place. I think this would quite down the Who is better then Who Paid VS Volunteer Bull -------. 

If I've read this correctly, what is being proposed is a set (or sets) of standards to train people to a certain 'level' for a variety of outside-the-hot-zone duties.  In other words, we're disassembling the concept of firefighter into its constituent components and then 'certifying' people as qualified to perform one or more of those components, e.g. drive/pump, pull tools, throw ladders, climb ladders, etc..

So in essence there could be:

Drive Only - this would accommodate those that prefer to sit and watch but still take part

Pump Operator - for some reason unable/unwilling to drive but can work the pump

Hose Puller - can stretch the hose up to (or near) the structure

Hose Packer - willing and able to climb up on the engine and re-pack after the excitement is over

Ladder Thrower - strong enough to help throw ladders, gets to wear turnouts and helmet

Window Breaker - turnouts, helmet, safety glasses, afraid of heights and just looking to break stuff

2nd Floor Window Breaker - same as above, not *too* afraid of heights

Roof Top Ventilation - PPE, SCBA, unafraid of heights but will only do up to vertical ventilation

Over Haul/Salvager - will go into structure with PPE/SCBA but far away from fire or after fire is out

Rehab - catchall that allows everyone else to still be part of the fun

All of the above gets stitched together to form a Frankenstein's Monster Fire Department.  The *electricity* required to bring it to life:  Actual Firefighters (NFPA 1001)

It's Alive!

No, that is not what this atricle is saying.

 

Like it or not there are rural fire departments all across the country that will be for a variety of very legitimate reasons - extended response times, very low manpower, funding which provides them with older/unrelaible/limited apparatus, PPE, SCBA and equipment - will likely be exterior departments the majority of the time.

 

There are also members that want to assist on the fire departm,ent but recognize that they simply can't operate interior. It may be age. It may be health problems. It may be things like clasterphobia or even fear of operating interior. But they are perfectly capable of operating exterior handlines, throwing ladders, setting up fans, establishing water supplies and running tanker ops and maybe even performing wildland fire operations.

 

Again Jack, I have no idea where you live but If I have 6 certified interior members backed up by 10 trained exterior members, I can handle quite a bit of fire until mutual aid arrives with more interior personnel. Give me the same 6 interior members with nobody capable of handling those exterior tasks, and I'm going to have a whole lot of trouble accomplishing much of anything. While it's certainly not critical, the concept of having those exterior members certified to perform exterior tasks would be, IMO, a very good thing for the volunteer fire service.

 

All this idea talks about is certifying them for what they actually do the majority of the time ... Exterior Operations. We talk about being professional, and like it or not, all this tsandard would do is develop a level of training and performance for personnel, and in some cases, entire departments that either choose do, or due to circumstances, are forced to operate exterior the majority of the time.

 

On another site this topic has gotten into a long winded discussion about what a FIREFIGHTER should be and what they should be capable of. Well, in a perfect world everybody on the fireground would be FFII, but the reality in the rural world is that simply isn't going to happen. In the above example, I think everybody would agree that they would love to have all 16 respondersm capable of going interior, but in the rural fire service, that simply isn't going to happen. That being said, it would be nice to be able to have all 16 personnel capable of receieving a certification for what they do on the fireground.

So, wildland firefighters (no NFPA 1001 cert) are not firefighters in your book?

ARFF firefighters?  Navy Damage Controlmen?

 

I think you're being quite a bit to arbitrary with your definition.

 

Actual firefighters are people who are members of fire departments or other organizations that fight fire.

 

NFPA 1001 does not exclude other people from being firefighters, it just means that they don't have certifications that meet all of the 1001 standards.

 

And...you responded with hypotheticals to a very real situation.  Bob's reply is a real-life way to handle that real-life problem.  It sounds as if it works for him and his department.

It would appear you are utilizing straw man arguments:

Wildland firefighters are trained and certified to the requisite standards (S-130 Firefighter Training and the S-190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior). 

ARFF firefighters are required to meet NFPA 1003

Navy Damage Controlman are trained to Navy standards at  DC 'A' School.

All of the above, when properly trained and certified, will be able to fight fire.  I am not aware of any level of wildland, ARFF or Navy DC where a person has the respective title of firefighter but is not certified to fight fire.

NFPA 1001 Firefighter I/II trains (and certifies) an individual to operate, under appropriate supervision in, on and around hot zones relative to structural, hazmat or vehicle extrication.

While NFPA 1001 may not specifically exclude others from structural firefighting, it does clearly define what training a person must have to meet the Standard for Professional Firefighter Qualifications and to operate as an interior (hot zone) firefighter.

"Actual firefighters are people who are members of fire departments or other organizations that fight fire."

If *actual* firefighters are people who are members of a fire department, then that would include any member of a fire department fire police company, EMS company as well as any social and administrative members.

Yes, I did indeed respond with hypotheticals, yet so too did Bob,

"It may be age. It may be health problems. It may be things like clasterphobia or even fear of operating interior. But they are perfectly capable..."

"...but If I have 6 certified interior members backed up by 10 trained exterior members..."

My comment - If I've read this correctly, what is being proposed is a set (or sets) of standards to train people to a certain 'level' for a variety of outside-the-hot-zone duties.  In other words, we're disassembling the concept of firefighter into its constituent components and then 'certifying' people as qualified to perform one or more of those components, e.g. drive/pump, pull tools, throw ladders, climb ladders, etc..

This is an observation deduced from the article, please show me where or how I am incorrect.

Bob's reply was no more real-life or less hypothetical than was mine.

Ben, how many non-NFPA 1001 firefighters do you have in your department?



Jack, actually, I used no straw men, but you used a different logical fallacy; more on that later.

 

You specifically said "Actual Firefighters (NFPA 1001)"

 

I responded specifically to that comment.

Your response added the wildland standards, the NFPA 1003 standards, the Navy damage control standards...none of which fall under your original NFPA 1001 definition of a "firefighter".

 

You don't get to claim "straw man" when you broaden the scope of your definition in response to a literal, factual response to your original definition. 

 

So, which is it?

 

You also ended with a non sequitur.  What my department requires for firefighter certification has no bearing on the fact that there are many other fire departments with different certification requirements.

 

And remember, NFPA 1001 is guideline.  It is not a regulation or law.  There are entire states that have their own firefighter certification requirements that do not meet every aspect of NFPA 1001.  If your definition is 100% accurate, then there are entire states that don't have any "real" firefighters.  I'm pretty sure that's not the case, but I'll keep an open mind. 

 

Persuade me.

 

 If I have 6 certified interior members backed up by 10 trained exterior members, I can handle quite a bit of fire until mutual aid arrives with more interior personnel.

 

6 interior folk huh? How does that work then? what 2 on an attack, 2 on backup, 2 on RIT? Yeah, sorry, you are basically calling those interior guys expendable if s**t hits the fan.

 

 

 

 

 

Bob also said that he has additional backup coming from other departments.  That's pretty typical in quite a few places. 

 

There are entire counties where RIT is a specialized function, done only by specific stations.  When those stations respond outside of their 1st due, they typically respond as RIT and as such, are the guys that take care of the situation when the fecal matter strikes the rotary oscillator.

 

If the RIT station is 1st due on the fire, the 2nd due RIT station is dispatched to cover RIT.

So, wildland firefighters (no NFPA 1001 cert) are not firefighters in your book?

ARFF firefighters? Navy Damage Controlmen?

 

Where did Navy Damage Controlmen rear its head from for this discussion? I have happened to have been a Navy Damage Controlman for 5 years, how about you? What do you know about that particular job?

 

Did you know that Damage Control is the job of every sailor in the Navy? Much like the Marines say every Marine is a rifleman first, the Navy says that every sailor is a DCman first. As a requirement, every single sailor reporting aboard a ship must go through basic damage control and as a part of that training is wearing and using an SCBA. This also means that sailors can not make petty excuses to not be involved in damage control or firefighting. As a matter of fact, and perhaps some bias, but I would say Navy (and Coast Guard for the matter) are the most aggressive firefighters that you would EVER see. There is no surround and drown, there is no defensive attack...there is no "Exterior only".....you are aggressive and you keep fighting, because if you lose the ship......well it is a loooooooong swim to the shallow end.

Bob also said it can take awile for those backup companies to get there too.

Yes, he did.  That is going to be the case for him no matter what.

 

So, he can send his interior guys in for obvious rescues, for incipient fires, and maybe even for a room and contents in a SFD, knowing that his other interior help is coming from somewhere else.

 

If the ?someplace" is a place like Buck's County, PA, the backup company is going to be about 5 minutes away, with about three or four other companies right on their heels.

 

Either way, the backup company response time is not going to magically give Bob additional interior-qualified firefighters.

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