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Hello All,
I have a problem...I am the training officer in a rural town. We just had election and we have a new chief. After talking to him the other morning I have come to see that he may not go along with my training plans. And as we all know as the chief goes so does most of the department. We used to be one of the most respected department in our area, now I am not so sure. I am trying to get our dept. up to Indiana cert level, but most of the older guys don't care. These are the same older guys who don't care for me much either. I guess what I am asking is if anyone has come across this problem or can tell me a way to work towards a solution I would greatly appreciate it. I have two years under this chief and I want to make it as good as last year was. Thanks guys

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I agree with most of the comments that have already been made, especially Ian's. Don't let your focus be on what the older generation thinks or are willing to do. Those individuals who don't want to be there, if forced to show up, will do nothing but complain and argue, leading to frustation and diminishing the quality of your training. I have sent these "antagonists" out of training and asked them not to come back until they're willing. Maybe a little extreme, but I didn't want them to ruin the one training session we hold each month for 2 hours. I'm not focusing only on the younger generation, the chief is almost 60 and is at just about every training night, and actively participates. But out of 16 active members, we average only 8 members for training night. I need to make it worthwhile for those that show up. The State of Iowa will soon require the FF1 class for structural firefighters but not certification, and 24 hours of training per year for all members. This will be on the honor system of course. I'm not saying the older generation doesn't need or require training, I'm trying to do the most good for the most people. Stay persistent, after fire scenes, ask your brothers what they felt went well, and what could have gone better, then practice on those topics, but avoid pointing fingers at people or picking one person out of a crowd. We are supposed to operate as a team, we should also learn as a team.

It sounds like you have a bumpy road ahead of you. When I was handed the job of training officer, my first thought was "how do I do this so everybody doesn't want my head". I found the key to it was getting the department officer's to buy into the program, to show them what the pros and cons would be. Fortunately I had a Fire Chief that was very pro-training, so at least the big man was on board. In the instance of somebody that doesn't get it, simply reminding them of their obligation under the law may be enough to stir some feelings. If you can get to the point where the officer corps has bought into the program and understand it and what it can do, depending on the culture of your department hopefully the rank and file will fall into line with the officers.
Training in a structured format is always a challange from getting firefighters to show up to picking interesting topics. ASK what the membership thinks they need for drill. Think about building props that can be used at any time. With props the firefighters can easily pick a basic operation to refresh on. As for the older members and their potential negative impact you must try to get them involved (using a one on one discussion) in the development or your training program. This way you can tell the others that certain members have already agreed on the format your planning. Good Luck
Let us know how things turn out.

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