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In the early years of fire departments being organized, men who joined their local fire departments were immediately put to work and gained knowledge from on the job experiences.  As time evolved, fire and emergency services have become more detail oriented with the growth of fire apparatus, tools, personal protective equipment, and the introduction to professional development and training standards.  Today, fire departments are facing more challenges in handling a wide array of emergencies than ever before. 

Each and every fire department throughout the country face many challenges on a daily basis, but no fire department is the same.  Fire departments must be aware of the hazards that surround them within their communities, as demographics and community profiles present themselves differently.

Training is an essential part of every fire department, whether career, volunteer, or paid on call.  In order to provide services to the community, efficient and effective operations are critical.  When we respond to an emergency, the community is looking at us for answers to the solution at hand.  With a solid foundation of company training standards, fire departments can focus on previous call trends. 

When fire departments focus on call types that are prevalent in their areas, they can perform training scenarios to make themselves proficient with the types of incidents they handle on a daily basis. 

A pro – active approach to establishing training standards respective to your organization can be starting point to having a streamlined set of standard operating guidelines (SOG’s) available to every member as a starting point for every incident.  Training can be looked at as formal or informal sessions delivered to our emergency personnel.

Obtaining certifications in certain areas can be very rewarding for firefighters.  When a firefighter completes a certification course, he / she has met the performance standard set forth by NFPA.  When the performance standard is met by a firefighter, it grants the firefighter legal permission to practice that standard they tested in.

While certifications are voluntary, many fire departments have adopted certain standards the firefighters must obtain in order to participate in emergency activities.  Obtaining certifications is essential for a firefighter to progress in professional development, and can have a positive impact of fire departments for obtaining grants.

Fire departments that enact required certifications will enhance operational efficiency, providing quality and competent services.  Firefighters will then be given the tools and thought process on how to make themselves better, in hopes of reaching mastery in certain competencies.  Professional development is critical in our business, as firefighters need to have the mind set of being life – long learners.  

When a fire department indicates the need for training and certifications, the organization must adopt a plan on how the firefighters will meet the established criteria.  Each and every firefighter should be given the opportunity to advance themselves without retribution from their supervisors. 

A simple guideline on the procedures of how to obtain and attend training sessions will give the firefighter proper guidance on meeting the developed guidelines for participation.

Fire service leaders must take a pro – active role in maintaining a solid training and certification program to keep performance objectives a standard practice.  As time goes on, the future of emergency delivery may change.  It is the responsibility of test and continually monitor their established program on a yearly basis.  As trends change in your organization, changes in the training and certification program may need to change.

As we look at defining the need for training and certifications, fire departments will create a roadmap for their performance on emergency incidents.  Having thorough knowledge of performance standards will create a positive outcome when dealing with certain hazards and call types.  If we can bond aggressive training with certification standards, the fire service can benefit in a way of witnessing a decline in firefighter injuries and line of duty deaths.

Fire service leaders from all types of organizations, whether career, volunteer, paid on call, or combination, must recognize the need for establishing training standards and combining the need for certifications.  There are thousands of fire departments across the United States, and each fire department structures their department to handle different missions as outlined in their needs assessment. 

In order to handle the critical mission of the community, fire service leaders must recognize the importance of establishing training goals and certification procedures, adhering to local, state, and national laws.  Implementing training standards will enhance the operational capabilities of any fire department, while providing a continuous assessment of where the fire department is versus where it needs to be.  Having a policy derived from training needs will assist firefighters in operating safe and consistent during everyday emergencies, resulting in the elimination of injuries and deaths suffered on the fire ground.

~Jeremy Rebok~


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