How do you get members to retain what they learn?  We are a rural department and everyone is expected to operate every apparatus. We have 2 engines, 3 brush trucks, and a tanker.

We have a member who goes to all the training, participates, and forgets what he has learned. He has trained on engine and tanker ops, yet can't operate either. Captain put him and some newbies in a scenario where he was the engineer. He had trouble getting the pump engaged, couldn't figure out what lever to pull to flow water.

We ran a grass/haybale fire last week and I had to run the engine and set up the tanker because he couldn't remember how to run it, not once , but twice. I told the chief that day, and mentioned it during last nights meeting. Chief just blew it off but did mention that I left the door of the engine open and smoke got in the cab. Guess I found out which is more important.

If this guy runs a wreck on the highway he usually finds someone to talk to and has to be told to do something. I asked him to take a BP on a wreck victim and got told to "Take it yourself, your the paramedic." He weaseled himself out of that one. I guess the only reason he still has a slot is he's a great snitch. If he doesn't like the way someone does something he calls the chief. He's bad enough that the LT and I have left him at the station. Last time we tried guess who got talked to? Cried to the chief again. He has to sit down to put on his gear. Almost got left on scene one night because he was talking to a woman. He thinks he's the department spokesman.

I have been with the department for eight years and can run anything in the house, why can't he? He's only been with us 2 years.

My only thought is to take him one on one and work him until he can't get it wrong.

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Kind of takes the wind out of the sails from those who advocate the "we take anyone" approach. This also shows a reason for certification and minimum standards......although it is possible such a person can pass such cert tests, but is putting on a front....just wants the prestige of the title as opposed to working for it.


Sounds to be more of an officer and leadership problem than just retention. Since you are not a chief officer, or perhaps even an officer, and you are concerned......start keeping records. Document the issues you are finding, but that means to also show iniative to help. So if you find this person struggling at the pump panel etc, take some time after a call to go over the basics again with him. So if there is a next time, you have it documented you have helped and try to make a concerted effort ro help if you are more concerned about his knowledge retention. If you find things aren't changing and the chief/leadership continues with a lax approach, then having documentation helps if looking to go over the head of the chief.

I agree with what John says.  It may call for some intense one on one training.  The documentation of his inability to do the job is absolutely imperative if you want to show the chief he is incapable of doing the job.

Secondarily, if at every scene he wanders off and wants to be a PR spokesman maybe he really doesn't want to be firefighter at all, he just wants the glory of being recognized as a firefighter.  Find sonething else for him to do and take him off line duty.  Let him do PR stuff, tours, Pub Ed , fundraising, and maybe help with rehab.  But take him out of the front line wearing turn out gear side of the FD.  If he is unable to retain anything, or perhaps unwilling to put enough effort into it to retain anything, honestly what good is he anyways?

I guess sadly, if the chief keeps him around because he is a rat bastard and the chief likes that this will be a difficult road to travel.  I don't have a good answer for that other than maybe someone else should be chief if he doesn't see an issue with a guy being on for 2 years that is unable to do anything properly, including getting bunkered out.


If you ever find the answer to this question; let me know. 

The other problem, as to going over the chief's head, he's on the board of directors. Someone had a brain fart and nominated him. I didn't vote for him. I'm the VP, so you see what else I have to go against. Maybe I could request an executive session and exclude him, but if he is the member that establishes a quorum it would do no good.

I'm leaning toward getting the OK from our training officer and going one on one with him. If that doesn't work I'm out of options.If we have a major fire I'll still help him because I need the water. I'm not going to let his stupidity get someone hurt. He will hear about it, though.

Our recruitment base is so pathetic that we almost have to take everyone who applies and hope for the best. The people who show up are, to quote a cliche, not right bright. Of three applicants, one can usually walk and chew gum at the same time. The other two can't open the wrapper on the gun. We just don't have a decent demographic to recruit from.

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