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 Moose on May 22, 2008 at 6:56am
Mike, Thanks for your input brother, its appreciated, but I have one question for you. You say that there isnt the same level of change encountered in the fire service that there is in the EMS field, Why do you think that? I feel that with all of the innovations in turnouts, air packs, TIC's and the tactics used for the TIC, improved search techniques and tool techniques that you see on Fire Engineering.com every week, newer and safer methods for stretching attack lines and extricating people from wrecks, FAST operations, Haz-Mat operations....I feel that the changes are endless. Look at the basic training requirements that have changed since I started in 1992. Back then I had to take 39 hours of training in the form of "Essentials of Firemen ship" in order to be interior....Today its 80 hours in Firefighter I. Back in 2000 I took the Haz-Mat Tech course, it was 24 hours long, now, only 8 years later its 40 hours long and split into two courses, Technician-Basic and Technician-Advanced. So, you see, I do feel there is adequate changes going on in the fire service to warrant even a 5 year recertification for firefighters. I feel the repeated training would be beneficial to us also in the long run. Sometimes repetition is a better teacher. Thanks Mike!

Thanks Matt for your insight to this also, I was hoping you would have read this and given me your input being we are from the same area. I hope I didnt offend you because I wasnt trying to, just trying to open some eyes to an issue that I feel is beneficial to our firefighters and their safety. I have been watching for too long and I am getting tired of being lead by officers that have not attended fire training in 10-20 years. Dont you think thats scary too? I know you and tons of others train routinely but there is still too many that dont. I am afraid to mention that to these officers too for fear of being black balled out of the dept!!! lol
Thanks Matt, see you next week.

Comment by Matt Brisley on May 21, 2008 at 11:03pm
I think you bring out some good points. It could prove to be a logistical headache to deliver the required training under our current structure here in NY, but not out of the question.
One of the challenges that face many volunteer fire service "leaders" is the simple fact that they lack quality "Leadership" training. If we all made an attempt at pursuing futher education, we might not end up alienating, or shoving off into a corner, quality people. Brian, I wish I could give you a better answer, but many of the Top Dogs, myself included need the occasional knock in the head or mental enema to help us see the light. Keep it up, and take care
Comment by MIKE TOIKA on May 21, 2008 at 3:35pm
Okay, here goes...while I agree that the training and standards can be better, the thought of "recertification" is tough to swallow at the firefighting level. What do I mean by this....well, unlike EMS, the evolution of firefighting doesn't change that much. Sure we get different tools, we get newer equipment, but lets face it....cutting a roof, dragging a line, getting water to the nozzle, its all very basic and technique does play a lot. Having a standard way to do it, takes and puts everyone on the same plane while all communities have different needs. However, EMS, cardiac care changes with advancements in medicines, trauma care, etc. NOW, what I believe we do need is "continuing education on a strategical/command" front. Changes in buildings, contents, structures, vehicles, means officers, incident commanders, etc need to be more alert on the fireground. The interior guys can only see so much. the task guys shouldn't have a problem, if they do, they did when on probation and shouldn't be allowed to operate. I would prefer to see our industry band together and force our country to quit letting us die, needlessly. We allow people to drive on cell phones, taking notes, etc..We allow homes and buildings not to have sprinkler protection, yet be made by inferior building codes allowing lightweight, smaller dimension materials. That is the bigger travesty. Sorry, I got carried away. I agree we need better accountability. But show me a department willing to challenge the courts and remove people if they can't do their job. Looking in the mirror can sometimes be brutal, but some of us are left holding a bag filled by others. Take care Brian, and you are on the right track

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