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Hi every one. This is my first post so please bear with me. I am the training officer for our all volunteer dept. I have seen our participation numbers slowly going down for our trainings recently. I have had several instructors come in and teach this past year as well as our normal monthly trainings. I was wondering if anybody had some good ideas to spark the interest to get my people interested in training again.

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We have the same issues. Increased call volume, less personnel on the department, and full time work schedules. I even had one new guy complain about doing ladder drills as he has done it before during a fire academy.

I have that trouble with my older members. They tell me that they have done this or that training before and don't need to do it again. I'm trying to engage or newer members but can't seem to get everybody envolved. I've been beating my head against the wall to find fun trainings to get the most people there that I can. Thanks for your reply at least I know I'm not alone

Well the "I've done that before" group is tough to break through.  You could either find a training topic that you know they haven't done or use them as assisting instructors to help train the new members.  It sometimes also helps to get input from the group and see what type of trainings they would like to do.  Normally anything that involves actual fire gets everyone excited.  Also I have had some success with changing things up and doing non-conventional things; like playing dodge ball in full gear and SCBA.  It seems silly but its a good way for everyone to get an understanding of their individual air consumption while working.  The older members will like it since normally the 30-40 year olds that have experience can outlast the new members that are not as used to breathing on SCBA.

Good Luck 

I will reply in two parts. First if you simply want to generate interest simply try something different that the last guys that were in your job. If you stay in training for a while you will realize that it can be very rewarding yet the most difficult job in the fire service as often times, everyone knows a better way to do something or can spin expertise critique, yet rarely lend a hand to make the training program better.

In my experience I networked with a lot of trainers over a 10 year stint in the training division and have concluded the following beliefs:

1. No training curriculum, great idea or innovative idea can prosper unless department leadership shows up, supports and participates in the training you schedule. In fact, if they don't do all three above mentioned things, at times it undermines your efforts. Leadership and Training having common goals and an understanding of how to achieve them is necessary to remove roadblocks to building a successful training program

2. Teaching to a wide experience gradient of probationary firefighters as well as salty veterans can be challenging but is possible. Again get buy in from department leadership to use the salty veterans as adjunct instructors. This will keep them from picking apart everything from a cynical perspective and make use of their wide array of talents. You, along with department leadership can also use this well structured time to evaluate their teaching skills and target good candidates to fill you job if it is one like in many departments that gets rotated frequently.

3. When putting together and annual training calendar save a few spots for out of box thinking type training. Always stay in touch with guys on the line to see what they interested in, understanding that you will never make everyone happy. If you can offer some reduced classroom time with lots of field exercises where all ranks are involved, it makes the day go by much quicker.

4. Seek out some good trainers and build relationships with those you trust. They can help with ideas, lesson plans, activities, videos, powerpoints and some unique approaches to what seems like the world's oldest problem? How do I spark interest in my training program? 

We have the luxury of training on day off overtime so in-service interruptions are at a minimum. This is not possible for all departments.

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