I'm sure there are several posts in relation to this topic, but I haven't found one as of yet.  So I figured starting one couldn't hurt.  So here goes.


   I was recently appointed to the position of "Training Coordinator".  As such,  I'm now in charge of all Course location, scheduling, and recordkeeping for every training class my department attends or puts on.  I'm looking for tips and hints to help me be a better training coordinator for my department, and also to help me successfully and effectively manage being in my new role.  Any input you have is valuable and very appreciated.

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I started out very simply and gained confidence and ideas as I went along. Don't expect to be an overnight success.

Attend lots of training yourself (every opportunity possible) to get the latest information and ideas.

Share training materials with other departments and agencies.

Get creative with delivery by doing something different every time.

Never forget you bear a tremendous responsibility in terms of liability.

It took me at least five years to get comfortable in the role of Training Officer.

Best of luck and don't hesitate to ask for more help.

I'll send you a message offline.

Thank you very much for the advice.  I'll keep that in mind.  This just happened a couple months ago and all the information is still very much jumbled in my head and a little bit harder to process than some of the other things I've learned and done over the past 8 years.  My goal for my students and other personnel on my own agency is the same as my goal for myself has been and will always be-- to make them better by being the best that I can be. 

It's great drawing off of my own experiences and that of others.  I'm very much enamored with the job, just as I have been from day one.  That's my hope, is that the ones that come after me will be as enamored as I am.  Thank you again for your insight and the offer to help.  I have a feeling I'll be picking your brain often

I think Norm tried to say this in his post, but the most important thing with drills is keeping them interesting and lively.  I find running scenarios is the best way to do this, using training dummies and either smoke machines or live fire (the right and safe way) at the training tower.  Separate them into teams and cycle the teams through all of the activities you are doing (venting, search, initial attack line, ladders, water supply) so they get a taste of every fireground activity and practice it.  Dont be afraid to mix it up and once in a while make things interesting; like waiting inside the training tower for a team to crawl by you and grab one of them telling them to lay down and be quiet, or tie a rope on their scott bottle without them knowing and see how they react to being tangled, or tell the pump operator to lower their pressure during a mock attack to see how the nozzle team reacts, or tell the roof team the saw does not work and see how they react; will they grab hand tools and cut the vent or will they waste time trying to start the saw??

Running drills the same way every time creates repetition, which sometimes could be good...or bad.  It could make them complacent and think this is how it will always be at a fire scene.  Make them come to drills alert and on their toes every time, not knowing what to expect, because thats how it realy is at a fire scene.

Stick to the basics too, train with basic tools and tactics every time and keep the dramatic over-the-top ideas for the annual drills (like the bus full of nuns crashing into a propane delivery truck in front of an elementary school on a windy day), keep it relevent to what you respond to; if its MVA's then have a lot of extrication drills.  If its brush fires then practice those; you get the idea.

Best of luck to you and remember; you can always keep in touch with us and ask questions anytime.


Moose reminded me of one basic guide to remember when planning your schedule. There are four groups of incidents we respond to: high frequency/high risk, low frequency/high risk, high frequency/low risk and low frequency/low risk. Put more emphasis on the high risk incidents and especially the low frequency/high risk incidents, such as commercial dumpster fires for instance. One training night my guys said "We're going to talk about dumpster fires??? Are you kidding???" The training followed an incident in which two firefighters were killed fighting a dumpster fire at a manufacturing plant. Talking and exercising the low risk stuff keeps it fresh while the high frequency stuff stays more current anyway because of the frequency. It's another way of adding variety to your schedule.

Thank you both for your insight.  I've got some great ideas in my head for upcoming training.  Right now my regular drill times are a bit sketchy because we are right in the middle of putting on a Firefighter I and II class.  Most of our guys are volunteers who have full time jobs, so working around the I and II schedule while also working around full time jobs seems to be a harder task than I first realized.  I'll get it figured out.  The dumpster fire training is something that I think I will do in the near future, because it's something that we don't practice enough and I'm not so sure that the guys that would be using the knowledge aren't as proficient in it as they think.  Mind if I pick your brain on the particulars???

Norm brought up a good point with those dumpster fires...too many guys/gals get complacent and may not wear full PPE for something like that, yet you have no idea what is in a dumpster.  Is there Haz-Mat? Probably.  Is there toxic stuff, biohazards, god knows what could be in those things...get the point of safety across their minds and using full PPE with air packs even for these dumpster fires and get them in the habbit of being cautious around them.  Lets face it, we aren't trying to save a house (unless its up against one), so there is no risk/benefit gained.  If possible, lob a stream into one using a deck gun on low pressure...make it a target shoot drill and see who can get the stream in the dumpster the longest.!!  Or even better yet, make a bigger "Chimney Bomb" using larger plastic bags and dry-chemical, and lob one or two of those into the fire first, then cautiously approach with a cellar nozzle or applicator nozzle from a safe point.

Lots of tools and tactics for everything...

Stay Safe

Interesting points you make. For the most part, dumpster fires aren't something we think about on a day to day basis...but we probably should. One of my earliest memories after going full time with my current Department was a dumpster fire.  The next one we had was a year later, right across the street from the station --literally.  We pulled the truck out of the bay, against the curb and pulled our trash line.  Guy had thrown a roman candle in the garbage...there were paint cans and all kinds of things in there. 


I think I'm going to work on a dumpster fires class now.  Try and condense it down to 4 hours, and then come up with a bigger version.  That's a really good idea.  Thank you guys so much! I appreciate it.  Glad to know the brotherhood still exists in some of us.   Stay safe, my friends. 

I've gotta be honest with you here. I don't think you need a four hour class (to be followed by additional training) on dumpster fires. It seems like overkill, especially considering that you just don't respond to that many. I understand the point that the next one could be the nastiest one yet. But you have a heavily volunteer department that has time constraints. You could print out a couple of the articles mentioned earlier and have your people read them on their own time. Then conduct a short discussion period with the group. That would get them most of what they need to know about dumpster fires.

Key Points:

1) Exposure protection most important (not likely to be a life hazard involved). Keep in mind that the best way to protect an exposure is usually just putting out the fire.

2) PPE. Especially eye protection for the numerous small ruptures that can take place. SCBA if haz-mat suspected. If not, attacking from upwind may allow for clear environment. SCBA should be worn and ready to use either way.

3) Distance is your friend (similar to car fires). Use reach of stream or deck gun to maintain safe distance. This is best protection against nasty surprises. It should not be necessary to climb right up on dumpster to extinguish fire. Consider filling entire dumpster with water and flooding fire out. It's easier and safer than overhauling.

4) Make sure someone is watching surrounding area. Any open businesses will want to keep operating. Keep people and vehicles away.

5) Important to remember that the only thing burning is GARBAGE. No one wants it. Everyone keep their cool and remain calm.

I've got to agree with John. My session on dumpsters was 2 hours. Just impress upon your folks that this is a low frequency/high risk endeavor so they understand the importance of situational awareness in such cases.

I would say low frequency and low risk (assuming interior structural firefighting is high risk).

I agree with you on situational awareness. I'd rather see a drill on that with the dumpster fire incorporated, along with some other type responses that you have. Probably best use of limited time.

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