Peers Are Driving Force For National Fire Curriculum

In an industry with a deep commitment to volunteers – all the way back to Benjamin Franklin and the formation of the Union Fire Company – it’s a fitting tribute that federal fire service higher education committees are composed of volunteers who are...


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Providing a different perspective, Jim Broman, retiring chief of the Lacey, WA, Fire District and a former bachelor’s committee member, said, “A lesson we keep learning over and over in our society and political activities: the different perspectives brought into the mix make a better product. A finished product seldom lines up with any one particular interest group. But it’s usually something everyone then acknowledges as better than any individual idea.”

Broman explained curriculum development as “a process piece in that all education and social development is a series of building blocks. As you build on a solid foundation and you put the next layer or course of bricks on – if it’s compatible – it strengthens the entire piece. Both from the academic perspective and from the more theoretical perspective, and from the field perspective, FESHE is more likely going to give you the content and competencies that’s going to make you successful. It might not be as glitzy as other programs, but it is the regimen or the piece you need to become complete.”

Broman said he sees the future of FESHE as keeping the curriculum relevant and current. “There is such a time lag between updating curriculum,” Broman said. “Part of that has to do with its cost; but as the industry changes, we need to stay current. Many leadership and organizational practices remained fairly constant, but there are a lot of things that are changing. I think a lot of changes today are technological in nature. It’s made certain elements of management and leadership not obsolete, but technology allows you to do more. I think another wave that will affect the fire service pretty dramatically is the whole sustainable communities – green initiatives – and how they will alter the models that fire protection engineers have designed. Because of the design concepts of the green initiative, models are coming into question. It puts prevention in flux and raises questions in the response community...FESHE needs to acknowledge this because it is a huge new development.”

Broman added, “The role of FESHE is to identify historical and dramatic forces that will affect us all without allowing the fringe issues to drive curriculum. It has significantly raised the awareness level among fire service personnel and also addressed a very serious problem of the lack of coordination and organization of college classes. It has allowed students to be more efficient and bringing courses into the online world which has made them more available. Ed Kaplan’s passion, his background, his expertise and the situation in which he was in – all have allowed a lot of good things to happen. My hope is that FESHE endures and continues to progress.”

Kaplan summarized this challenge: “In an effort to acquire an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or their next desired level of certification, fire service personnel typically accumulate college transcripts with unnecessary courses and dozens of training certificates. During this typical process of professional development, duplications of effort are common and desired certifications or degrees delayed. What is the cause of this problem? Bluntly stated, the providers of training, education and certification do not always collaborate for the good of the end-user, or the firefighter and fire officer. It is an inefficient and costly system of professional development that is unsustainable during these difficult economic times.”

Just as Benjamin Franklin empowered the likes of George Washington, Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson to become volunteer fighters, he saw education as a civic tool too. He believed the value of higher education was a means of delivering more effective public service. FESHE today seeks the same results.