Money and Its Impact On Fire Service Training Operations

An important part of every fire officer's responsibilities involves teaching and training people to do their jobs properly. This is a difficult and challenging job, but one that ultimately is rewarding. Success requires an intimate familiarity with the...


An important part of every fire officer's responsibilities involves teaching and training people to do their jobs properly. This is a difficult and challenging job, but one that ultimately is rewarding. Success requires an intimate familiarity with the communications skills you need to get your...


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An important part of every fire officer's responsibilities involves teaching and training people to do their jobs properly. This is a difficult and challenging job, but one that ultimately is rewarding. Success requires an intimate familiarity with the communications skills you need to get your points across to the students. However, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

Everything we do in the fire and emergency services involves money, or the lack of it. Look at the problems that fire departments face because government lacks adequate funds. In more and more instances, fire instructors are being brought into the budgetary process and asked to justify their needs. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do not want you to be caught unaware at a critical time. I want you to be able to justify your critical programs. For that reason, I will revisit the fiscal issues involved in preparing a training budget.

For a fire department, preparing a training budget involves the critical task of deciding what you want to accomplish. You must first come to grips with the range of services that you intend to deliver to your community. I would hope that you have created an effective organizational structure and that your department has developed the necessary mission statement, goals and objectives to guide your members in determining their role in the department. If you do not know what it is you are supposed to do, it will be hard to develop a training program to meet those unidentified, nebulous intentions that you think you have. If you cannot spell out what you wish to do, I would further suggest that you would be unable to create a price tag for that unidentified range of tasks.

The fire department is one part of the emergency services puzzle in your community. To create an understanding of what you are going to do, you must know where you fit. Your town has things in common with all other communities. Your town may also have things that are unique. You must build your local fire department around both and tailor it to the needs of your community.

Once you have decided what your department's role is and what services it intends to deliver, you can then begin to decide what your training program should involve. Once this organizational tasking has been done, you can begin to create a realistic price tag for your fire department. It is at this point that you can begin the budget battle from a rational starting point.

Most of us like to concentrate on the normal firefighting tasks with which we are so familiar. However, there is a wide range of service opportunities that must be considered. It is important to explore what exists in your community and what might be missing. How can you deliver an effective emergency service if you are not aware of the hazards in your community? You must look in order to see them. Travel through your community, asking questions of the people in charge of various occupancies. Build a solid database of knowledge on which to base your operational decisions. Become well known to the plant managers, school principals, store managers and landlords of your municipality, county or fire protection district. Once you have determined what the hazards are, you will be better prepared to create a training program that meets the actual, identified needs in your community.

Creating a training program is not easy. Many levels of need must be addressed, some internal and some external. In the first instance, you must develop a list of the mandatory training programs to be delivered. Every state will have certain subjects that require annual training. Investigate the mandatory requirements in your state. I would hate to see you waste money on fines that could have been used to pay for training.

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