Fire departments in the Information Age face many significant challenges. The issues that normally permeate news headlines – fire prevention and suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, technical rescue and the ever-increasing demand to “do more with less” – bring a...
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Fire departments in the Information Age face many significant challenges. The issues that normally permeate news headlines – fire prevention and suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, technical rescue and the ever-increasing demand to “do more with less” – bring a number of other concerns along with them.
A fire department’s ability to meet these and other objectives within the context of its missions and resources are affected more by the manner in which its members train than any other aspect of the fire protection business.
In the Seattle Fire Department, training has taken a new “program-based approach” to meeting the extensive training requirements of a large metropolitan fire department.
Founded in 1869, the City of Seattle is located on Puget Sound, 113 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border. Surrounded by mountains and water, Seattle is a commercial, cultural and advanced technology hub of the Pacific Northwest and a major port city for Pacific and European trade.
The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) provides a full range of fire and life safety services. These services include an extensive company-level inspection program, fire suppression response from 33 fire stations and one of the world’s most renowned emergency medical delivery systems, Medic One.
The challenge for the Training Division is meeting the training needs of 1,120 employees in the most efficient and effective manner possible, within the resource constraints facing most governmental agencies in the 21st century, especially fire departments.
SFD Training Division
The SFD Training Division is segmented into four units including Administrative Services, In-Service Training, Recruit Training and Wellness/Fitness and includes a deputy fire chief, two fire captains, five fire lieutenants, a wellness/fitness coordinator and an administrative specialist.
Administrative Services Unit.
The chief of training, Deputy Fire Chief I. David Daniels, a 19-year fire service veteran, directly supervises the Administrative Services Unit. This unit, which includes the division’s administrative specialist, Judy Waleryszak, is where the management of the division occurs. The unit manages the division’s approximately $1.8 million budget, which represents approximately 2% of the department’s overall budget.
The other significant responsibility of the unit is the training information management process. Nearly every federal, state and local requirement for training brings with it a need for documentation. In Seattle this is accomplished using the department’s Training Information Management System (TIMS). TIMS is a database that not only can be managed in the division, but can be accessed by fire officers in their stations to record training activities.
Although TIMS is available, it does not totally remove the need for written documentation. Each in-service training program on the department training calendar also requires written documentation that members attended and successfully met the objectives of the program. In addition to the management of the administrative unit and direct supervision of the other three units, the chief of training also represents the SFD in training organizations locally and at the county, state and national levels.
Training center project.
A major focus of the chief of training over the next few years will be the design and construction of a new training center for the department. Currently, the division is housed on the second floor of a working fire station, No. 14. These facilities have been in use for over 40 years. The division is working with a City of Seattle interdepartmental team (IDT) to complete the project. Not only is the fire department in need of a training facility, but the Seattle Police as well as two of the city utility departments have similar needs. The IDT will make its findings known to the City Council in the spring of 2000 as a part of the biannual budget process.