A small fire department with a good reputation for professionalism at incidents is sure to have a strong training program as one of its attributes. Training as a means to proficiency sounds easy. Sit new firefighters in a classroom, then give them some hands-on experience and you've got firefighters...
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As to a small fire department not having capable training talent on its roster, there is no such department. Even the smallest, most remote fire department has personnel who can get up in front of people and speak. Combine that ability with the right training and resources and you have the start of an effective training program. As for technique, effective instruction varies among departments and instructors and an instructor does not need to worry that a presentation is not the most polished. As Keith Royer, one of the 20th century's best fire instructors implied, how someone teaches is not as important as the results achieved.
As a closing remark, this article serves as an appeal to anyone considering a move into the dynamic world of fire department training - don't hesitate. The demand for your service is great and the rewards to those who diligently apply themselves to the task are even greater.
Steve Meyer, a Firehouse® contributing editor, has been a member of the Garrison, IA, Volunteer Fire Department for 22 years, serving as chief since 1985. He is past president of the Iowa Fire Chiefs Association. Meyer is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program, and is a contract instructor for leadership and administration with the NFA. In 1998, he was presented the State of Iowa Firefighter of the Year award.