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Of Chiefs, Training Officers and Consultants

Fire companies using outdated equiptment and being taught outdated training methods is common in the American fire service and it cuts across all departments types and sizes. I have listened to firefighters talk about being unable to affect change within their company or department. These are not style issues. These firefighters are presenting factual data and willing to test their tools against what is currently in use. They are rebuffed at every turn. Why?

Why are they told they must continue to do things the way we always have done them. Because much of the American fire service is led (if you will) by misguided Chiefs, inexperienced training officers and influenced by consultants. Each group does its part to hold the line. The line against change.

Chiefs against change come in many forms. Chief Stupidity who has not picked up a book or fire magazine in years. He will get you hurt. Chief Myway who inspires nothing from the troops as long as everyone does as they are told. He likes his crews dressed just so. Chief Blinders who doesn't see any problems even when everyone else does. His just does not get it. Chief Oldschool who still preaches antiquated tactics based on myths. His world will shatter if he finds out he is wrong.

Training officers suffer from the same identity crisis as the chiefs. We have firefighters learning tactics that have been "telephoned" over the years and now don't make sense. We have people whos egos won't allow them to change because it might mean what they have taught for years was wrong. We have training officers who can not offer anything more to the class than what is written in the book or what is on the presentation slide. We have training officers who have little field experience and even less seniority. Lets pick our training officers wisely. Our firefighters deserve more depth. When the question comes up as to experience training officers should have it.

Consultants are the ones to really watch as they almost always come with an agenda. The only change they are interested in is the one that profits them. Many of these consultants have perfected the two step dance. Step one is to prove something works better. Step two is to sell it to you. It was never about you it was about the sale. Be carefull to check the resume closely so and you can see the holes.

Firefighters are only asking for a chance to show their stuff and have it judged honestly against all that these people hold dear. These people need to be called on the carpet and outed so that progress can be made and a few lives saved.

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Comment by Paul J De Bartolomeo on June 12, 2008 at 6:09pm
Ray Mack,
As you well know I could not agree with you more brother, hopefully that eloquent post will inspire some change. Please keep fire in your life.
Comment by Mike Donovan on June 12, 2008 at 3:40pm
Well put my Brother
Comment by Brian Arnold on June 10, 2008 at 11:58pm
Your saying some of the same things we are dealing with each day as well. I've had the chance to work for some bosses like you describe, question the training officers and consultants and now I'm getting the chance to say "I told ya' so" a whole lot more often. It would have been so much easier to work together for the same goal. Some of those fine folks you describe are getting to sit through a NIOSH LODD investigation right now because their heads were buried so far up their *#% and in their books that they couldn't see what they were setting themselves up for. FTM and keep fighting the fight to save those who will listen. We will make our profit in the form of brotherhood and the knowledge that we are making a difference in trying to get everyone home. As a firefighter my job is to protect lives and property; as an instructor it's to give those firefightes the skills and knowledge to save lives and property. I'll never know it all, I'll never be done learning; but I'll never stop passing along what knowledge has been given to me by those before me and by what I've learned along the way.

Stay safe brother.

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