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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A drill on arrival conditions of the dumpster, SCBA and proper apparatus placement.  The smoke showing tells us to be heads up to the contents.  Cool from a distance and drown with the tender.  And don't let the garbage company dictate your tactics.  At least here, the garbage company wants the fire knocked down ASAP to limit damage to the dumpster.  While that is understandable from a business standpoint, it is not worth charging in with out SCBA and throwing caution to the wind.  If the black smoke is rolling it might have to be treated like a haz-mat fire.  As to watching the surrounding area, we have had people dump into a dumpster that we were fighting fire in.  Good thing the chief was not at the scene. 

Great pointers, everybody.  I appreciate it.  I've got several ideas and you all are helping me tremendously.  I appreciate it.  This is all so new to me.  Hopefully I can live up to the departments expectations.

Good luck Jeff. I suspect you'll be fine. Stay safe.

One of the main reasons I talked specifically about dumpster fires is because of my experience at one of them, and the extreme state of complacency some of the departments in my area are starting to show for any call that isnt in a house with flames and smoke showing...they arrive on scene of that small "routine" garbage fire, or brush fire, or vehicle fire and do not think about them and keep an open mind as to all of the dangers that could be present, and they saunter up to it with nothing but a hose line, no SCBA, then suddenly............

Basically Jeff, prepare them for the worst, keep them thinking at all incidents, make them treat every call as a serious one and to don full PPE and SCBA for every call involving smoke, full PPE and eye protection for rescue calls.

That one dumpster fire I spoke of?  I was a firefighter with my last department, a bigger department averaging 500-600 calls annually.  We were toned for a dumpster fire at one of the strip malls in our district, and I was on the first due engine with another firefighter, driver, and an assistant chief.  The chief didnt even grab his gear from the station...The firefighter next to me in the jump seat looked at me wierd when I started to don my SCBA as we were pulling into the parking lot and I saw the smoke.  When I jumped out of the engine there were 2 other chief officers and a Captain, leaning against the dumpster with flames shooting out of it, casually telling me to stretch the trash line and hit it.  So I stretched it, and looked at the officers still hanging out around the dumpster like it was the pool table at the firehouse.  I asked if they were going to move and they said "No, just hit it, its only a dumpster.  And why are you even packed up????"  I was pretty disgusted after the captain said that to me....

So, I held the nozzle over my head from about 6 feet back and opened it up.  As soon as the water hit the dumpster it smoked like a bitch, and there was crackling and small ruptures inside throwing shrapnel into the sides of the dumpster, making our brave and fearless (yet ignorant) officers scatter in 4 directions.  I proceeded to extinguish the fire, and when I was done I walked to the captain, removed my mask in front of him and said calmly, "That is why I was geared up, cap."

That captain didnt like me much after that but the others respected me more.

Basic safety; its pounded into our heads at FF 1 and every class after that, including annual OSHA refresher training.  When we respond to a call, our PPE should be on and at least ready to use, not on the truck still in the gear bags.  SCBA works better when its on the back, turned on, and connected to the mask, otherwise its just an expensive excessory.  Drills should continue to pound this into their heads and you should make a small example of it every time someone doesnt wear a piece of the envelope; ANY piece.  If I see someone at the tower during a drill without their hoods, I will walk up to them and smack their helmets and tell them to lay down, your now a victim that your brothers have to risk their lives for to save.

If I see them with the air tanks on, mask on their faces yet no regulator in the mask they are told to immediately put it on and then they pick up the hose after the drill is over.

Stay Safe all.

Get input from the members of your dept on what they want to train on. Canvas them. Dont wait for them to ask you. This is one of the biggest problems I see, is officers not listening, or taking in input from thier subordinates. Someone may have a good idea. Plus you may find out where your dept is lacking in the training area. I constantly ask my guys would they would like to cover. Training on the same areas over and over quickly becomes boring, which leads to lack of participation. Training needs to be dynamic and constantly changing.

Hey, Jeff...I pulled book off the shelf you might be interested in. It's entitled, "Volunteer Training Officer's Handbook," by W. Edward Buchanan, Jr., and published by Fire Engineering. Very good book that covers every conceivable aspect of a training program with all it's related considerations.

I'm actually very interested in that.  Where do I find it?  Is it a recently published book?


Maybe it's me but there appears to be some confusion (at least on my part) as to whether you were appointed as Training Officer or Training Coordinator.

Your title says Training Officer, but in the body of your post you state that you are the Training Coordinator, "...in charge of all Course location, scheduling, and recordkeeping for every training class my department attends or puts on."  If you are indeed the Training Coordinator then what you need is an appropriate method for record keeping.  Based on your description of your duties, it doesn't appear that your post involves you actually deciding on the type of training to be done but only scheduling it, finding appropriate locations and keeping track of who participates at any training activity.

I would suggest sign-in sheets for each station for your department training and a sign-in sheet for any department that attends your training.  Record keeping is what is going to keep your department out of hot water should you suffer injuries or LODD's on a job because without proper records there's no proof of any level of refresher or on-going training within your department.  You would probably also want to record what level each FF is presently trained to (FFI, FFII, basic or whatever your minimum might be). 

Also look at NFPA 1401: Recommended Practice for Fire Service Training Reports and Records


In my Department the Training Officer and the Training Coordinator is the same thing.  I decide on the training, scheduling, recordkeeping.  My official title is Training Coordinator, but I'm not an Officer so they can't call me the training officer.  The only other person that my ideas have to go thru is the Deputy Chief, which is the highest ranking officer we have.  Transitional periods, gotta love it.

As Training Officer, I suggest you look at this link 'Training Officer Liabilities - Fire Engineering'   I point this out because, as a Training Officer you *could* be held liable should a FF be injured or killed.

The following is a quote from the aforementioned link/article:

"Prevention and documentation provide the best defense. Documentation should include the training officer’s self-training record, to determine his competency to train, and a record of the training events for each individual employee as the training occurs, following the standards found in NFPA 1401, Recommended Practice for Fire Service Training Report and Records, 2006 edition."

I'm not in any way trying to discourage you, only pointing out that the responsibility of Training Officer is more than just trying to fill out a nights drill period.

Document! Document! Document!

I think others have chimed in on having sign-in sheets, but you also should have a copy of the course/class curricula on file as well. You almost have to think in terms of defending yourself in court as you prepare for a class. Lawyers are going to ask not only "Was this person trained?" but also:

"What was he taught."

"Who taught him."

"What qualifies you to teach the class."

I know from incidents in our department that training records are going to be some of the first documents subpoenaed when a lawsuit or other legal action occurs.

That being said, any time you can find a class/course already created and can use it for your department, the less work for you to create classes on your own. Youtube has a wealth of information for training ideas. You could probably do a search on "how to ventilate an igloo fire" and find something...well, maybe not but you get the idea.

Good luck from a former training officer,


I've actually done quite a bit of searching and have found a couple of interesting ideas.  I think I want to learn how to ventilate an igloo fire now.  Great idea!  Laughing over here. Thank you for that.  Brightened my day, Cap.

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