I think I am on the other side of the coin being the young up and comer in the fire service but, I have a few ideas on this topic. While I will be the first to say that I approve of the sit down, shut up, and pay attention to the old timers attitude as that was my indoctrination into firefighting, I have to say Certs go a long way also. In todays fire service those of us that are still young have not seen the big fires of the old timers. The only way I know that the guy that I am dragging the hose into an inferno with has any clue as to open a bail or not steam burn the possible entrapped victim, or even find his/her way around a fire is to know s/he has been trained. I have far more time, in my albeit short career in the fire service, fighting fire in a class A burn building than any structure but thats where we get our experience now. Fires are hotter, smokier, and construction is cheaper, more flimsy then ever now days and we still have people fighting sprinklers. A minimum of FF1 is in my opinion the least of a cert that one should have to go interior. Anyone can challenge the test (at least in the state of PA for the IFSAC and Pro-board certs) and if you're a competent firefighter it should be no challenge. At my company we constantly keep up with the state 75% minimum trained members awards. It shouldn't be a fight of why we shouldn't be certified, but rather why should we fight the certifications?
A question for you Ron: Is the state also going to make the individual pay to take the courses and the test?
I am not against any seasoned firefighter from challenging the test if they are given a one week refresher to help them. If they pass the states test then the state should grandfather them. If the can't pass the test then taking the courses over seems like the most logical thing to do to bring them back up to speed on standards and current fire service trends and issues. When and where I grew up in Southern Pa we had the farmers and the retirees and younger guys and mostly us kids who did the stuff. I took my first FFI in 1985 at the age of 14 and don't remember anyone much older than me being in the class. Not sure how Pa certified before then either.The old guys just knew what needed to be done and did their best from being trained by others before them. It wasn't always right or the way we were taught but the fire finally burned down to our level of training and that means mineral rights sometimes!
Now jump forward 25 years and those old guys are dead or can't go on runs now and the younger guys are now the old farts and we, well me, I am the middle aged seasoned firefighter with many certs and training and yet I continually seek to make myself better.
So my thoughts are if the older members with no certs train and are on top of their game and you and the rest of the certified crew feel competent on their abilities then you should have the Chief go to bat for them to be grandfathered by the state.
Just a what if something were to happen to a civilian or even worse a brother dies because someone wasn't properly trained or certified. So their family decides to sue and if the greedy attorney proves the firefighter(s) have no formal training or were handed a certification they may well eat them and the whole department alive if it goes to court. What I am saying is it's better to CYA and protect your veteran members by helping them train and to gain more knowledge and take a few courses so they can get their certification, than it is to watch them get sued and loose their houses or worse causes the fire comapny to go under because the citizens feel you are unsafe. After all it's the citizens we are here for and well it makes us better firefighters at the same time.
We all know there is street smarts and book smarts and these days we have to be both to survive in a sue happy world.
Just my two cents.
Keep the faith
There has got to be a combination of both, firefighters need the knowledge provided by the books and classwork, but they also need the hands on real life experience to put them all together. The certification is important, but if a firefighter can't physically perform a left or a right hand search in an unfamiliar structure, or force entry on a door, their ability to do the job safely and efficiently doesn't exist. We are starting to see young firefighters applying to our volunteer department with "Firefighter I Certifications" that they earned on line and then attended a two-week hands on training academy and were given certifications. I'm sorry but two weeks of hands on training does not create a firefighter.
Most of the state would not require the individual to pay for the test or classes however the the fire department would be required to pay. The biggest problem is that there has been no mention of even offering a challenge test again, meaning that those that did not take the challenge test several years ago would have no choice but take the entire course over ( I say take it over because it is basically the same material they took years ago just under a different name).