Ten Things Training Officers Need to Know

As a fire instructor and training officer for many decades, Lt. Michael Daley has found certain points that aid the training officer in developing a successful training program.


7. Create S.M.A.R.T. objectives: When utilizing support material within the training session, it should be utilized in a manner that completes the desired objectives. This starts with determining the objectives for the course, and each objective should be:

Specific

Measurable

Action-oriented

Realistic

Time-driven

8. Emphasize team building and efficiency: In his book, Engineering Practical Rope Rescue Systems, author Mike Brown talks about stressing the “Team Efficiency Concept” during his training classes. Simply put, it is the refining of members skills and actions on the incident to maximize efficiency and reduce waste. There are very few operations in the fire service that do not depend on the actions of the entire team. Therefore, it is highly advisable to enforce the team approach during the session.

9. Train in all response competencies: Introductory training on specific tools and techniques are a requirement for new members, but continuing education should involve multiple competencies that would be performed at an incident. For example, hose drills to above-grade floors can include rope training to hoist up equipment; annual SCBA training can include unit maintenance and proper search techniques; ladder raises can support Vent-Enter-Search (VES) training, etc…. When the member sees the actual task implemented into the action plan, a better understanding of the importance of teamwork is the result (see Photo 4).

10. Document, Document, Document: Our litigious society has placed emphasis on documentation for our departments operations. Training records are such documents that need to be stored. Options exist for electronic storage within many National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) programs. These programs should be easily navigated to draw upon the required information when needed. Many insurance companies are requiring formal documented proof that the members are being trained correctly to avoid any liability, and these programs may be called upon should any legal actions arise.

Conclusion

The position of Training Officer is not one to be taken lightly. This position is charged with the responsibility of creating a thorough, efficient department-wide program that encompasses all aspects of the department’s mission statement. The position requires a person of high-energy, self-confidence, integrity and intelligence in order to influence the learning process on a wide variation of learners. The end result will confirm the department’s mission statement: the safe and efficient performance of its members during each and every operation…exactly what our customers deserve.

Until next time, stay focused and stay safe.

  • See Mike Live! Lt. Michael Daley will be presenting “Basement Fires” and “Strategies and Tactics for Fires in Attics and Cocklofts” at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, July 23 - 27.

MICHAEL P. DALEY is a lieutenant and training officer with the Monroe Township, NJ, Fire District No. 3, and is an instructor with the Middlesex County Fire Academy, where he is responsible for rescue training curriculum development. Mike has an extensive background in fire service operations and holds degrees in business management and public safety administration. He was named a Master Fire Instructor from the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. Mike serves as a rescue officer with the New Jersey Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 and is a managing member for Fire Service Performance Concepts, a consultant group that provides assistance and support to fire departments with their training programs and course development. You can reach Michael by e-mail at:FSEducator@aol.com.