Do you mind if I rant about training?

Discussion created by rgscpat on Apr 28, 2017
Latest reply on May 8, 2017 by kbreed

To expand on a reply on another thread.  It seems hard to get training for rural firefighters; fire academies may be far distant from rural areas and small, rural departments may lack training money. And, some rural volunteer  FDs have enough turnover that even the departments' chiefs and officers may "not know what they don't know" in terms of training, grants, improving safety in their community, etc. Also, while it seems that departments are more and more expected to be "all hazards" responders, the organizations that support departments are often fire-focused, many volunteers expect to have a fire focus, and a lot of funding systems or structures seem specialized to fire only, and fewer of them have a broad focus on all community emergencies. 


Training delivery and barriers to training --  I wish our state fire academy had classes that were partly on-line/virtual, and that our fire academy had more funding to send instructors out to our part of the state.


Also, it seems that a lot of the classes fit the schedules and time commitments of professional full-time fire fighters, and have schedules and pre-requisites that are hard for volunteers to meet. Finding multiple chunks of time, or week-long blocks of time, just isn't going to happen for many of our volunteers. Spouses and family demands, work demands, etc., just won't tolerate it, especially for unpaid volunteers who have so many other demands on their time.


For example, we really want to qualify some of our people as structural fire fighters. But, in our state, we have to get them through fire fighter medical, then a week of HazMat Awareness and Operations, and only then can we look at getting them through two weeks of structural fire fighter class, which normally involves sending them 250 miles away. Few volunteers can afford that much time commitment, and our department couldn't afford to pay the lodging, daily expenses, etc., for more than a few folks. 


We (a few departments in our mutual aid area) had been working on getting hazmat training and structural fire fighter I training in our county, and had been working on this for most of a year. Everything seemed set -- and then the state fire academy ran out of money to send an instructor. Sigh. So, now, instead of getting the training close to home, during our winter quiet season, now we will be driving 65 miles each way for five days just to get the HazMat pre-requisite, and during (wildland) fire season when we'd rather be close to home. Sigh. Getting at least part of this training on-line would really, really make sense. But it's not available.

It's even worse if a new volunteer fire officer like me would like to get some fire officer training. Although there are some short classes and lectures given during our annual state Fire-EMS conference, for the most part the requirements for formal fire officer classes are almost impossible for volunteers in departments with officer turnover to meet. Let's see, first have to get through fire fighter medical, then HazMat, then structural I, as mentioned above. But that's only the beginning. Now we have to get through Structural II, then fire instructor, then.... before we can even begin to take any fire officer classes. If the average tenure of a volunteer fire officer is only a few years... then formal fire officer training is so NOT going to happen. 

It would be so wonderful if we could somewhat break down this professionally-focused "vertical stovepipe" model of training, and instead break training down into smaller chunks, with fewer pre-requisites, with more electronic / on-line delivery, and more funding/support for sending instructors out into the sticks. I am somewhat aware of National Fire Academy classes, and these sound useful, but I'm really looking for pretty basic training needs that wouldn't be such a pain to meet. 

Secondary thought -- It would be good to have a "free one stop shop" for quality training ideas. We struggle a bit sometimes to come up with training that is realistic, relevant, safe, affordable, and engaging/engrossing.

Okay, that's the rant....  Thoughts?