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Not many years ago, we all used to travel to our local video store to rent movies. It was for the most part a family routine, you know go together and rent a movie, fire up some popcorn to spend a little time together. 

Well we all know those days are gone…  Looking back at what killed the video store business model and how it pertains to life today... was it the red box?

With the advent of the internet, access to information became instant for so many, and in my opinion fed the process of killing the video store model.  It essentially made life easier. No need to spend time going to the video store to search through 1000’s of movies, when you can point, click and watch from your desktop or smartphone.

Looking at the similarities of the Red Box to the Master Box Generation:  Has the internet keyboard training started to influence the quality of your fire ground operations?  If so, with the ability to now sit down and start learning from any location via smart devices, have we been pro-active; to progressively implement the keyboard institutional firefighter.

Let me start by saying I am a huge proponent of firefighter education, in any form of delivery.  But it takes the experience of a strong fire service instructor to supplement ANY self-administered educational opportunity.  Putting people in positions to better themselves, whether it is a traditional setting, flipping the classroom or self-administered, we MUST provide direction, oversight, and behavioral modification if needed. 

Strong firefighters have invested a tremendous amount of time and effort mastering his or her skill set through thousands of hours of training and life experiences.  

But these experiences must have some sort of oversight to assure the educational experience is on target.  Now looking at “experience” alone, the best firefighters often have been provided opportunities to succeed from many people who have invested their personal time in the said development. 

The author Malcomb Gladwell wrote in his book "Outliers" that, "People do not rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn, work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot."   If I were to overlay Gladwell's quote to the fire service, firefighters in reality are molded or influenced by many of the people for which they are exposed to.  Each of us are one way or another, a reflection of our cultural upbringing. Some of those "opportunities" Gladwell speaks of within the fire service would be the recruit school instructors, company officers and field instructors who invested their time into training the brotherhood….

The keyboard generation of fire service instruction is now a viable and popular option for firefighter education. I like the idea of the masses having access to modern firefighter curriculum and webinars. What we all need to remember is that medium lacks that old school salt (physical oversight) So if we choose this method of delivery, we must provide and supplement a strong cognitive and psychomotor skill set through the assistance of highly dedicated and skilled professional instructor. Without this supplementation, we will have self taught firefighters who will need greater supervision on the fire ground because the lack of quality assurance during the educational behavioral modification process.  

Ride or Die by the Red Box.

Billy Greenwood - Tap the Box on Fire Engineering Radio

Author; Presenter and FDIC Instructor

FETC Services


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Comment by Kevin Dippolito on May 16, 2016 at 10:10am

Billy, your post is spot on. There is a tremendous amount of on-line training opportunities that all of us in this profession should take advantage of, regardless of our time on the job, experience or rank. However, as you pointed out there must also be an adequate amount of hands-on training which, in the end, will result in demonstrating proficiency in the skills of our profession. The "paper" is valuable and important, but it's useless if you can put what you learned on-line to use proficiently and correctly "on the street".

Stay safe everyone.

Kevin Dippolito

Proudly serving (and learning) for 32 years.

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