"Demands and Solutions"
By Frank Ricci & Mark Starzecki
Click on link to listen to our show on testing for Recruit Classes
Firefighters primary goal is "Passing the Test" (FF I FFII HazMat and EMT) Instructors primary goal is ensuring a foundation competency. These two concerns at first glance seem easy to reconcile the issue for both groups is time and amount of content.
I look back on when I entered the fire service almost every main subject was taught incrementally in a linear progression. We build on our skills and the certification process allowed time in between to build knowledge and experience. Firefighter I, II and II often was done over three to five years. The same is true with the HazMat track starting with awareness as the first step moving up through the natural progression to specialist.
Now in the day of everyone needs a certificate and it must be done quickly. The Chief needs stand on the podium at graduation and tell all how many certificates their members have earned and how their the best trained class the department has seen. All the pomp and circumstance leaves me to ponder in our zest to be better trained, have we lost something critical in the translation. There are now conversations about adding apparatus operator to NFPA 1001. We must not forget the student in these decisions.
"As instructors we often forget and need to be reminded that it took us years to know what we know"
By doing everything quickly and in one Recruit class may make it easier for planning, but is it two much with no balance between training, knowledge and experience?
And now to the student left with a pile of books on their desk and the daunting task of passing, earning respect from their instructors and peers and realizing that their skills or lack there of can result in injury or death. Notice the first thing I listed was not the most important. However to them passing is more compiling then injury or death. Passing is critical to the path they have now chosen. Without passing they are facing the equivalent of the death penalty for employment. No pay check and a stain on their conscious for life. It is almost no different for someone who want to volunteer, loss of esteem and the realization that you have failed and your goal of serving your community may be over.
Quality instruction is not enough. As instructors make sure students mentor each other. Ensure the students have access to the building for weekly study groups. Seek instructor involvement in these groups and make sure all know that they are welcome. Make your self-available before class and ensure your academy has a written policy on dealing with extra help.
We just hired 130 firefighters requiring EMT, FF I and FFII and a host of other required certifications. The city provided the study guides with each books and encouraged study groups. Numerous recruits on there own found a website to augment their study groups with great success. The site was hero prep let's take a look at this innovative platform.
HeroPrep.com - Practice Tests for Firefighters and EMTs
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