The amount of training needed depends on the task you do the most. If you fight many fires, your skills are exercised quite often. So you probably are fairly good at fighting fires. However if you never go to a Haz Mat Call or Car Fire, your ability to manage the incident might be in question.
The new thing today is electric cars. They have their own set of dangers that can get an inexperienced firefighter in trouble. The electrical part is one area of danger, but there are other real dangers in all motor vehicles. I'm talking about air bags and the mechanism that make them work.
Many firefighters don't understand that the bag in from of the driver is an "azide" explosive. If your face is by it when it explodes, your gonna have a bad day. The other AIr Bags are triggered by pressurized cylinders that can have as much as 4,000 psi. pressure in them. If you accidently cut one with the scissor's, it can send shrapnel into your fellow firefghter.
So what is the proper amount of training? Depends on the work you are doing. We should practice on the stuff we don't do often, the other stuff will take care of itself.
Dustin, we meet each Monday for training. Its usually about 3 hours each week. We also have occasional training during the day each week if we have people who want to come in during the day and train. Weekends are also used occasionally for special drills. You can NEVER train too much. I have always felt that the saying: Train like you respond and respond like you train is how I see things. If you don't train then you arnt going to be familiar with each other nor with your equipment. You need to be proficient with the proper use and operation of your equipment as well. All this comes about because people feel committed to what they do enough to train.
In my opinion, the absolute minimum amount of training for a career department should be 2 hours per shift.
The way your question was phrased, I suspect, however, that you may be talking about a volunteer department. If that is the case, IMO the absolute minimum is two 3-hour trainings per month. I would much prefer to see every week, as honestly, there is simply no way that adequate training can be held in a 6-hour time period. My current VFD trains every Thursday night, with a minimum of 75% attendance. It is a typical small, primarily very rural community with very few commercial buildings except for a couple of truck stops, and some other gas-drilling related equipment and vehicle yards and shops.
My previous VFD also trained every week, with a minimum 80% attendance. In addition, my previous VFD required a total of 32 hours of outside training per year, primarily through weekend regional fire schools.That department was a mix of fairly high density residential, as well as a college campus, hospital, large National Guard facility and 30-35 multi-story residential, hotels and office buildings
My current combo department also trains volunteers once a week, with a minimum of 25%, which IMO is far too low. That being said, we train 2-3 hours every day, and many of the volunteers come to that training when available. While we have no required amount of outside traing, we have the luxury of having a fairly significant training budget and do send volunteer personnel to a significant amount of outside training.
As the previous poster stated, it's important to know the hazards caused by your district. if you also perform EMS, extrication, technical rescue or have significant hazards in your district that require extra training, your department may require more than what I have discussed.
Volunteer at least once a week
We train 3 Mondays a month. If we get a structure to work in we will train on Saturdays or Sundays. I will also do training if i get a few guys wanting training on something they want to train more on any night of the week they want to. I do not think you can train to much. I live by the words of a ex chief "We don't train till we get it right, We train till we can't get it wrong." I will admit that January and February are always tied up with OSHA refresher- Haz-Mat refresher- Blood borne passage's and all the good stuff PESH says we will do every year. We also in courage our people to take in classes offered by our county and at the NYS Fire Academy. Plus take advantage of the many seminars around the area.
#1 POC FD: 1 training a month, 1 meeting followed by training if there is time. We require FF1 within 1 year of membership. We require FADO if you wish to be a driver. CPR certification is required. First Responder training is in the works. We also strongly encourage firefighters to attend training outside the fire department.
#2 POC FD: 2 Trainings a month, 1 meeting followed by trraining if there is times. Firefighter 1 is required. CPR cetification is required. First Responder is in the works. We also encourage firefighters to attend training outside the fire department.
Both FDs take advantage of opportunities for special training, like instructors coming in. Or we will add extra days for special training or make-up training for firefighters that missed regular training.
My department has probationary training for the new members, but anyone can help out. Initially, when a Probie, you had to go two times a week for about two hours a week for about 3-4 months (maybe more, I can't remeber exactly).
Aside from that, anyone (including Probies) under 5 years in the department has to do ten trainings a year (EMS/Fire trainings all count), three of which must be County (live fire). After 5 years it decreases, and it does a couple of times thereafter in increments.
Do I think it is too little or too much? Honestly, too little, especially for members with more time in. I remember my first structure fire I saw people that I had never seen before. But given the current economy, where people are working multiple jobs (especially with the exborbitant property taxes where I am located), I can't see them increasing the amount. They actually just increased the amount of calls needed to run per year from 152 to 180 (ish). We don't retain many members, as many of them leave within the first year, so the burden falls onto the shoulders of people in my range - younger, with less than 5 years.
Our system (trainings) is slightly flawed, though. Our first training of the month (@ the Organization Meeting) includes FOUR trainings within a few hours (HazMat Refresher, EPiPen Refresher, etc.). After the first day many life members are already DONE with trainings (they don't need a live fire training, and overall they only need 3 trainings). Now, mid-February, I already have 6 trainings (the first meeting's trainings + bailout classroom and hands-on).
I think we should do more, personally, especially hands-on, live-fire FF classes. I especially believe this is true for older members that are never around, except for SCBA Requals.
Thanks to all that have replied to my discussion. I am a strong believer that now a days firefighters in all branches are not getting enough training. I have been with my VFD for 5 years and i have only been to a few trainings at my hall. Now not to deffend anyone but i do live in a very rual part of northeast PA and finding the time is hard. But since I've joined 3 of my friends have signed up and i now i have to train them cause no one else has the time. We can only do very basic things because of a lack of gear and materials but they still have fun. But i still have them come up to me and say "I feel like when i get on a call im gonna look stupid because i wont know what to do". Its hard to keep the spirts up when they feel like no one cares.
My volunteer department holds training meetings every Monday. We train for at least two hours at a time.
If you can get at least 15 people to show up for a training and have somewhere to host it contact Bucks County Community College or Butler County Community College. Both have a lot of instructors who travel all over. Normally the cost of the class is covered by the state and/or is covered by relief funds. Also contact the State Fire Academy about academy on the road courses or scheduling a weekend for your department to go there and use their facilities, its well worth the trip!
ISO requires 20 hrs of structural firefighting (which includes haz mat and rescue) related training per month. We usually have 4-5 hrs a month that is directed by our training division; videos or magazine articles. We also count our daily and weekly truck check as 1/2 hr and 2 hrs of "equipment familiarization" respectively. We log the following as training: working hydrants, territory familiarization, pre-fireplanning and promotional test study. The company officer is responsible for any remaining training.
We also have medical training/skills, medical case review and specialty team (Dive and ARFF) training, which doesn't count toward the ISO requirements.
I guess you have to look at where you want to be at the end of the day. We are tasked with responding to so many different kinds of calls that we need to be proficient in many things. At our house we train every Tuesday. Then there additional trainings throughout the year that some attend but not all. I would foucus on the things you need to do to recertifiy and add from there. You have to take into consideration of compensation as well. Are all the guys buying into to what the department as a whole is trying to accomplish. Set a goal, sell the goal with justification and get all on the same page striving for what your end training results you want to see. Most will embrace your thoiughts, and some will not. Best of luck to you and your team.