Lately I have been doing some research in order to define fire service success. The result! I am one hundred percent convinced that the pillars of fire service success are training, leadership and emergency operations safety, efficiency and effectiveness, which can’t be fully realized without the previous two, training and leadership. I am also one hundred percent convinced that nothing will determine our success or our failure more than our training, or lack of.
What is good, effective fire service training? As you set out to design, develop and deliver company level training, what guides you? I have spent the better part of the last 13 years looking at the whole quality of training versus quantity of training thing, and have concluded that 30 minutes of well thought out, accurate company level training, hands down beats 2 hours of poorly planned training, containing questionable content accuracy. You may be reading this thinking…..no kidding. But I’ll ask the question once again…what guides and drives your company level training design, development and delivery? When you take into account the firehouse environment; runs, personnel rotations and assignments, experience levels, etc., the questions becomes a little more complicated
The Basics of Company Training
My thoughts regarding the design, development and delivery of company level training, and my expectations as fire chief are this: From a routine, team building, skills proficiency and mental aspects of survival stand point, quality, not quantity training needs to occur during each duty period. I believe making training personal is the future of fire service training, in which mentoring is a primary component. Identifying training opportunities should be a priority for formal and informal leaders. . A fire chief that requires two hours of training per tour will get the same results as the teacher that requires an essay contain 2,000 words or more….a lot of filler that takes away from the main point.
Company level training usually involves knowledge retention and skills proficiency. As such, company level training should always begin with a clear understanding of what the training should produce. This is a mistake I see too often. Those assigned to deliver training do not have a clear vision of what the training should produce. Preferably training objectives that reference to SOP’s, SOG’s, and accepted practices, reinforced with technical information and experiences. Throughout the tour, it is critical that daily events result in experiences through the training process and mentor relationship. Because many times these events (fires, pin-ins, technical rescues, trauma and unique medical emergencies) are few and far between, each member must learn from each event / exposure if they are to become experiences. After all, Twenty years of riding a big red truck to fires, does not equal twenty years of experience fighting fire…..unless something is gained that can be used down the road.
While there are many ways to measure the success of training, I offer my firehouse definition:
Training is valid when the content is accurate and reinforces established operating guidelines and accepted practices.
Company level training is working when the troops do it, talk about it, apply it correctly, improve it, and pass it on. If your company level training does this…you’ve hit a grand slam!
OK, I'm in, Scott. TJP
Well said sir!