An e-mail from one of my fabulous readers set my mind to whirring. This fellow spoke of the problems he faced as the chief of his department. As you might expect, one of the major problems he asked me to address involved the ways in which he might convince his members of the need to train regularly.
I guess the key to answering that question involves creating a love for learning within your department. Here is an area where you must truly learn to lead by example. If you want your folks to learn, you must be a solid learner yourself. If you want your folks to devote countless hours to learning, you must do so yourself. You also need to insure that your drills and classes are relevant and engaging. That is the advice I shared with him.
As most of you know, I have been a vocal advocate of training for many years now. Many have been the commentaries I have crafted which were designed to inspire you to train harder. I have never been a proponent of the "do-as-I-say: not-as-I-do" school of fire service leadership.
It is with this thought in mind that I feel a personal confession to each of you is in order. They say that confession is good for the soul. This has not been a year of which I am proud when it comes to fire service training. Oh, I have been to a number of seminars at the major conferences, and have taught a few. However, my hands-on drill-ground experience this year has been woefully inadequate.
As you might expect, my life has been very busy. I guess it is a function of a number of different influences. There are the consulting jobs, the major conventions and of course, my 30-day road trip in July. However these are nothing more than a series of excuses, not an explanation or a justification.
Perhaps the number one villain has been my traveling. I have been on the road for more than 80 days this year. My life has been blessed with a number of significant opportunities, however each of these has demanded that I go on the road to enjoy and explore them. My annual commitments to the Fire Department Instructor's Conference, Firehouse Expo, and Fire-Rescue International are just the starting point.
Perhaps the greatest drain on my at-home time this year was my 2006 FIRE Act Road Trip. For one month, I traveled the highways and by-ways of our country to visit with people who were blessed to receive funding from this important federal grant program. This was time well spent, but it cannot count as training time for me.
My buddy Jack Peltier and I got to meet scores of really great fire people. However I touched neither hose nor ladders during this time. Neither did I attend any of my fire department's drills. Truth be told, I need to spend some serious time catching up on how we conduct our firefighting business in Adelphia.
Let me also mention that my consulting practice has seen a marked increase in the number of opportunities to work with clients in a variety of places. My work has taken me to a number of different states, and the range of projects has broadened to include a number of things that I love to do.
However each new undertaking has taken me away from Adelphia for varying periods of time. I would hope that you understand the need for me to share what I have learned over the past 40 years. There are a lot of college loans to pay off and I am working hard to do just that. Thanks to new terms granted to me by the money lenders in my life, I will have all of these debts paid off by my 88th birthday in 2035 (if I live so long).
Another culprit in my lack-of-training malaise is my love for the tuba. Seven of my travel days were devoted to traveling to Florida back in January to play my beloved instrument as a member of the Windjammers Unlimited, a circus music preservation association. I just love the fast paced circus music which serves as the central focus of our organization's reason for being.