For non-critical subjects, sporadic training is fine. But how do you handle the vital, time-sensitive information that must be addressed on a regular basis?
By now, everyone should concur that company level training is a necessity. The fact that you have read beyond the first article supports my assertion, which is great. But what do we do next? Finding common ground, in terms of a basic concept, is only the beginning. Now, we need to devise a detailed plan on how best to proceed.
For non-critical subjects, sporadic training is fine. But how do you handle the vital, time-sensitive information that must be addressed on a regular basis? Often, preparing for such sessions is a pain, because it is not a lot of fun, and the guys are not going to be enthusiastic about this type of training. Without a detailed course of study, it's too easy to skip the dull subjects in favor of those that are simpler and more fun. So we need a plan.
The most important part of implementing any type of change is to know your audience. You cannot expect to go into a fire station, throw down a twenty-pound, three-ring binder, and expect everyone to begin training the first day. You need to implement this training slowly. If you have a very young and eager crew, this process may only take a few months. If you have a very experienced and veteran crew, it may take years to fully implement. You have to know your guys. If you come in without any regard to your people, your training program will be doomed to fail.
First, you must determine the subjects on which you are going to train. In this article, I list the thirty sessions that comprise my schedule. You must tailor the list to accommodate your crew and/or department, and add or delete subjects as necessary. Second, assign a weighted value to each topic. When creating training schedules, I sat down with my crew and we assessed the importance of each subject. As you can see from the list, we are not reviewing high-rise procedures as much as we are focusing on search and rescue in residential structures, because we have no high-rise buildings in our first alarm district. Finally, compose a training schedule. I created a schedule one year in advance, but you can plan individual sessions, a month at a time, if that works better for you.
Below is a list of topics on which my crew trains. Later, individual articles will feature each subject in detail. Due to the fact that not every city uses the same procedures, I will try to include alternative training methods. For instance, when cutting utilities, firefighters in Bridgeport, CT, might employ completely different protocols than those used in Mesa, AZ. Also, whenever possible, I will incorporate some east coast and west coast perspectives and everything in between. Listed in no particular order, my training subjects are as follows:
- Wall breach
- Hose advancement and CAFS
- Splicing and extending attack lines
- Cutting utilities
- Rescuing a downed firefighter & RIT
- Ropes & knots, with tools and their uses
- HazMat procedures
- High-rise procedures
- SCBA breakdown and emergencies
- Laddering a building
- Thermal imager and reading smoke
- Search and Rescue (commercial)
- Search and Rescue (residential)
- What's on the truck?
- Attic fires and vacant structures
- Room orientation
- Apparatus placement and freeway MVA's
- Tilt wall structures
- Grass fires
- Residential fires with exposures
- Salvage techniques
- Fires in strip malls and bldg construction
- Burglar bars and forcible entry
- Sets and reps
- EMS (Shock/Pedi/KED/Internal bleeding/sling and swath/OB/GYN...)