Lets Re-think the Future of Fire Training

Friends, Brothers Sisters, and everyone interested in keeping knowledge up to date.
I have a dream, and that dream is to have a Volunteer Fire Service that holds training and education on a pedestal and worships it daily. A fire service that understands the importance of continuing education and practicing BASIC skills on an annual schedule. A fire service that is no longer concerned with ego and image and is MORE concerned with the service it provides to its residents...Isn't that what we are here for??

Let me explain my dilemma to you further so you have a better understanding for the upcoming rant session!
I am currently a New York State Emergency Medical Technician, in order to obtain that title you need to attend classes, learn, take and PASS a written AND practical test, than you get your "Card" with a ID number thats registered in New York State...BUT, thats not the end. After 3 years, you need to attend a "Recertification" Test where you take another Written and Practical Skills test in order to maintain your certification. Than during the course of the 3 year period you need to attend "Continuing Medical Education", or "CME's" classes and seminars to hear updates in treatments and equipment usage....BLAH BLAH BLAH Most of you have done this for years and I need not explain it further, correct?

Now, in the fire service for New York State I am currently a "Level II Firefighter"........Want to know how I got that title?? I attended a class, was one of the HANDFUL of people that took notes ( or even bothered to OPEN my book), one of the FEW firefighters who volunteered to do the Practical skills portion of the class while everyone else "Watched", than received a "Certificate"......No Test.......No Practical Skills Evolutions.........Just "Heres your certificate, thanks for coming." Do I have to attend a re-certification process 3-5 years later?? Nope. Continuing Education Classes or seminars? Nope. OSHA States I need like 40 hours of refresher training in order to be a firefighter, but is that enforced? Nope. We have guys who LAUGH at training in my county and think they dont need it, and have not attended training in god knows how long but they are still fighting fire, packing up, and entering IDLH atmospheres that firefighters in other states have to attend NUMEROUS hours of training in order to be allowed to do.

Whats wrong with this? Does anyone else see the issue here that I see? Has anyone else already attempted to write the "Powers That Be" to attempt to change this issue? What I am looking for is to accept the Training Standards for Levels I & II Firefighter in the same fashion we handle EMT-1, EMT-2 (Intermediate), EMT-3 (Critical Care) and EMT-4 (Paramedic). Dont you think it would BENEFIT us as firefighters to have to re-certify our knowledge and skills every 3-5 years and LEARN any updates in tactics, skills, or fire science? Wouldn't you think it would make us BETTER firefighters and provide a BETTER service to the people we protect? I know we are only Volunteer, but do you think fire knows the difference? Do you think the fire looks at you and says "WHOA! Wait a minute, he's only volunteer so I will only cook his "Lower Region" a bit than let him go" ???? Bottom line....Fire doesn't discriminate people, It's an "Equal Opportunity Killer". Dont you think we Owe it to the people we serve and protect to keep our skills current and up-to-date? I do. But sadly in my area Im one of an extremely SMALL group that feels this way and when I attempt to change things Im laughed at, Ignored, shoved in the corner. Want to know why? Because Im out numbered by lazy firefighters who dont care what training they have, they just care about the " Guts N' Glory", the "Awards" and recognition, or, my BIGGEST FEAR EVER.....Become an OFFICER just to get the pretty red lights and sirens and carry a radio and bark orders at the guys/gals they dont like or are not in the "Click".

To phrase another member of this site that I happen to revere and look up to as an "Internet Mentor"........"When is Enough going to be Enough"? When are those of us who care, and are constantly ignored and thrown in the corner going to band together and do something about this issue? What does everyone else feel about my idea to make Firefighter I & II a STATE CERTIFICATION instead of a "Certificate" class? I am looking for feedback, BOTH pro and con. Any advice or experienced insight to this issue would be greatly appreciated, as I am one of the few who still respect experienced members and officers and listen to what they have to say, unlike most of the new generation that want to be "Overnight Sensations".....Sorry, thats a WHOLE other rant!!
Thank you all for reading and hopefully responding to my dilemma, I hope we can generate lots of discussion about this issue and make a difference.

Thank You
Brian "Moose" Jones

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Comment by lutan1 on July 9, 2008 at 6:14pm
Good blog Moose! I'm all for any type of training and recertidicaiton at ANY level

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Comment by Jim on July 4, 2008 at 12:23pm
Comment by Jim on July 4, 2008 at 12:22pm
RT Class Hours Recommended.pdf These are the hours for the current Rescue Technision Program.
Comment by Jim on July 4, 2008 at 12:11pm
RT Quick Reference Guide.PDF This is the Rescue Technision Certification Program. It is now being redone to meet the current NFPA 1006 2008 ed. After a certain date the ERT crossover classes were droped and you had to take the new program as a RT.
Comment by Jim on July 4, 2008 at 12:00pm
Firefighter Class Hours.pdf Just click on this pdf file connection. These are the hours required to complete FF1 and FF2. The "R" stands for reccommended hours and the "M" stands for maximum the community college can run the class and be reimbursed by the state. The legislature in NC passed a law that pays for the continuing ed for it's Firefighters, EMS, and Law Enforcement. Our tuition fee's are exempted for us. I know that most states don't do this and I must say I know what a great value this benefit is. Jim
Comment by Jim on July 4, 2008 at 12:07am
SING IT LOUD AND CLEAR BROTHER !!! Couldn't agree with you more. I have said the same thing for several years. Let me tell you about where I am from, North Carolina. I have been told that compaired to others we have a pretty proactive program and it's used to duplicate other systems. I would like to see it go further. But first for you, what are we doing now.

For Firefighter 1 and 2 we teach certification programs. Each has a number of blocks that you must pass (all of them). What does pass mean: 1- You must attend 75 % of the total class hours for the taught block (ladders, hose and appliance, rescue, alarms, etc.) 2- You must be able to pass a practical test of a minimum of two stations (out of multiple possibilities that even the instructor doesn't know of which one until the test packet is opened) 3- Only after they have passed the practical they can sit for the written exam. 4- Once passed, this block is reported to the Office of the State Fire Marshal (who certify students and qualify instructors) 5- Once each block is passed ( this includes HazMat Awareness for FF1 and OPS for FF2) the student will receive a certificate for that level. 6- That certificate has a seal from IFSAC a certification board. 7- A IFSAC certification is good in multiple states if you relocate to a state that also qualifies to the same pre-established standards. I will send the document showing the hours seperately but the total is between 336 and 402 hours to complete.

Instructors have a copy of all the practicals and can share them with the student, so they know what they are expected to do (does that sound like a SOP, that thing that tells folks what you expect them to do on the fire ground). The instructors have access to the test bank questions, which they can review at the community college before teaching a block, but they are not allowed to have copys of the test. My philosophy is teach the material, not the test. If an instructor does, he is violating his agreement as an instructor, even worse doing an injustice to the fire service, and the student.

Now, what I would like to see. First a story about a dicussion between instructors, over a few beers after weekend long class, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A couple of us from NC where singing the blues about problems we were having in NC, when a local instructor said "oh hell, we dealt with that ten years ago, wait until this happens...". So my friend, if you are around long enough, you may get to say the same thing about this issue to someone else in a place that still uses tin cans for communications.

Here is what I would like to see as our next step. Maybe you could fight for both things at the same time. But wait, that would be to efficient for government. I would like for our instructors to have a copy of the whole test bank. It should have at least 3 times as many questions in it as are on the test for each area. The programs should be done as they are now, with the OSFM certifying that all material has been completed and allow the student to register for a regional test of the completed material. They would have to commit to at least two days to do anyone one of 8, 10, or some quantity of practical stations within that certification FF1 or FF2. Once passed they then set for a writen test of at least 10 questions from each block. Once this is all passed, then certify them for 5 years. During which time they must sit through each block again for con ed and you guest it, go through that two day qualifier again. Then the process starts all over. Instructors should be required to re-sit for testing each time NFPA 1001 or 1006 or 472 are re-adopted.

WOW! And you think your climbing up a steep hill. Don't give up, keep pushing, and showing by example. Your peers will eventually follow you if you are a leader. Otherwise get them out of the fire service, we don't need them, and worse yet someone may die! This is dangerous stuff and those that are here for glory and not serve the community are dangerous. Good luck to you!
Comment by STEALTHY on May 26, 2008 at 9:57pm
hey moose, good topic. the problem as i see it is, on most vol. fire dept. guys/gals work full time jobs and use that as an excuse to not attend trainings. "im tired"!! TO BAD! can you make standardized recertification, no. should each dept. have a training regiament that would include polishing your skills and including modern cars and building materials yes. include nieboring dept. yes. do the basics do report writting handout maps of your district and have the firefighters put the names of the streets where they belong. bottom line as i see it is it starts at home. good luck moose
Comment by Kimberly A Bownas on May 22, 2008 at 9:42pm
Brian, great post. I agree, as an EMT I have to keep doing my recertification and prove that you are a capable EMT. Some departments don't train the way they should and although basic firefighting doesn't change, everything around us does. I think there are some that just want the the title, the pretty red lights and the nice loud siren. There is more to this job than that and we have to remember that. We need to make sure that everyone is safe coming and going to a call as well as on the scene.

Be safe...
Comment by The Phantom Scotsman on May 22, 2008 at 4:36pm
Alright, I've read your posts and feel I must comment...

PLEASE open your minds, brothers and sisters!!! We MUST train and keep up our skills on a DAILY BASIS. You say the basics don't change when it comes to firefighting???!!! You complain about "lightweight" construction, you tell us cars HAVEN'T changed, and there are NEVER any new chemicals being introduced by DuPont or Allied or the others? You say that the ONLY ones who need ongoing training are the officers and FGC's? I hate to sound curt or harsh, or whatever, but the only "travesty" is that narrow-minded "firefighters" think they're invincible and continue doing STUPID things to get THEMSELVES killed!!! How much calculus do you remember from high school? If you don't use or polish your skills regularly, you get "rusty". You wanna stay alive??? Open your mind and get off your lazy butt and TRAIN!!! Practice the BASICS that will keep your A%$ alive!!! Learn about lightweight construction, the new light weight and hybrid cars, the latest concerns from the chemical industry, and then pull some hose, practice your pump skills and do some self-evacuation drills.

AND SLOW DOWN on your way to your calls!!!

No hard feelings, but I too, am tired of reading about brothers and sisters dying needlessly from complacency and blatant stupidity. Please think about it.
Comment by MIKE TOIKA on May 22, 2008 at 8:06am
Hi Brian. I know what you're saying, but here is my problem. With every new "NFPA" change, or new idea in Firehouse, Fire Engineering, etc., the majority of it is really "the same". It might be the new tools, it might be the way they talk about it, but really, what did they change. Hose loads can only be led out one way. IF every department used same hose loads, even more so forward versus reverse lay, they all have slightly different quirks to getting the hose out. Auto extrication, new tools are out for stablilizing, but really, did the old stuff not work, or does it look prettier now. The concept of cutting cars, putting out fire, even handling haz mat are still the same...the tools are different, newer, but even those aren't "better". Maybe I'm too old school, been in it too long, I don't know. But i don't see all the hype with the "new and improved". in fact, I really don't think new and improved equals better and safer. Just newer. EMS has changed exponentially, with Cardiac Care alerts, 12 lead ekg's, ability to use paralytics in the field....all to the benefit of patients. Our tools for firefighting is just that, tools. Again, my biggest issue, is lack of Firefighting Tactic continuing education. The changes to the world require we look at things differently. the tools will continue to work. But if our Lt's, Capt's, BC's, etc can't look at an issue based on TODAY'S world, not "its how we always did it" then we will continue to flounder in doubt and wonder as to how we have people getting killed. Thats all. Again, maybe I'm way too old school, but i believe in knowing your community, keeping your eyes open to whats happening in it, and being prepared ahead of time for the problems. The job of firefighting doesn't change. The world around us does. Thats all, thanks for the opportunity to chat. Mike

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