Training for the Volunteer Firefighter

Jack Gardner details how to train effectively for the unexpected. Firefighting is a team effort and the best results are achieved when individuals practice as a unit.


How To Train Effectively for the Unexpected Training in any profession is key to improving the skill levels of the individuals involved. Training in a volunteer organization is just as important, but sometimes harder to achieve. Training as a volunteer firefighter is difficult because of the very...


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Meaningful Training

Firefighters will learn more, retain it longer and be more skilled at techniques that have meaning to them. Canvass the members to find out what they feel is important for them to know as volunteer firefighters. Analyze recent calls that may have highlighted a skill that needs to be strengthened. Even the weather and seasons can be helpful in setting goals.

Use departmental, local and state recertification requirements as drills. Throughout the drill, everyone should be continually made aware of the importance and usefulness of the skills being taught and learned. Some skills are used on a regular basis, others might have to be put into "mental storage" and called upon at a later date.

Some volunteer fire departments respond to enough calls that help to keep the firefighters' overall skill levels high; many do not. Regardless of the number of calls that a department responds to, drills are very important. Since they are so important and volunteers' time is also important, the drills and training must be held weekly. They also have to be well planned, and useful.

JACK GARDNER is a member of Mahwah, NJ, Fire Department Company 4. He joined the Leonia, NJ, Fire Department at the age of 15 as part of the Civil Defense program, where he served as engineer, lieutenant, secretary and president. Since joining Mahwah Company 4 in 1979, Gardner has served as lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, secretary, treasurer, vice president, president and chaplain.