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    Default OCFA Academy Show, question

    So we watched a couple of these episodes at the station the other day.
    Entertaining, better than Oprah I guess.
    But we realized that the OCFA Acedemy was completely different from our Academy.
    They do all this marching, and "Hoorahh" stuff, carry a Guidon,etc.
    Alot like bootcamp, from what I remember. (Navy waaaay back when).

    Sure, we're a paramilitary service, but we had to laugh a bit and wonder if they were taking the military part a bit too far.

    Question is, is this how most depts run their Academies?
    I have been to 2 Academies, one was hoorahh, one wasn't.
    Both were tough, both stressful.
    I personally felt that the lack of polishing boots and not screaming, "We're The Fighting Gorillas of Class 038" every time an officer walked by didn't make the "non hoorahh" Academy any easier.
    They just focused more on doing the job.

    So what are people doing out there?
    Hoorahh, or non-hoorahh Academy?
    Which do you feel produces a better probationary?

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    Recruit school here was very similar to what I see in the OCFA show. We weren't as stringent on uniforms, as are they, but very similar. We were issued red jump suits and PT gear.

    Every day we formed up for PT and worked out very hard. We had weekly evaluations, and very strict requirements on all exams and quizzes.

    Honestly, I liked it and I like what I see on the show. (don't tell Bou I said that )

    The early stages of a recruits career need them to be focused and listening. There is a lot to learn, and what you don't know can not only kill you, but those around you. Keeping it formal, militaristic and high intensity is essential, in my opinion.
    Early in our careers, the boss says do something, there is no room to question it.
    That's the main reason that I feel that teaching recruit school is such an awesome responsibility. not awesome as being "totally great", but that it is such a huge undertaking and enormous responsibility.

    In this I am talking about a larger career department, with about the same number of members as OCFA has. I have no idea what other recruit schools are like, for non career places.

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    More academies should be run this way.

    I just cant figure out thier methods of indirect attack.
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    The OCFA Academy is pretty much any other academy you would find in the state- paramilitary, progressive and top notch.

    No offense, but if your department or these ways of doing business seem odd to you, you might be behind the power curve. The military has been doing this for years, if not, people wont take it serious.

    When the OCFA test, it draws THOUSAND of applicants to the ratio of 200 applicants to 1 job. If selected, you are the elite, best of the best.

    Here is an older video of the OCFA still being paramilitary, drilling and using a guild-on. OCFA Class 20. OCFD Class 16 and 17.

    This is why people come from all over the nation to test, work and live in California.

    Bou

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    I guess these responses are why I asked the question.
    The military uses the "boot camp" method to basically break down a new recruit,strip away his former identity, and mold them into what they want. The idea is to get the recruit to think, walk and talk exactly how the military wants them to.
    As it was explained to me, there is now room for individuality in the military.
    Just because the military has done it for years is a rather poor excuse for why we should do it.
    Is that what is expected of someone in the fire service today?
    Today's new hires are typically a little older than boot camp kids in the army.
    They might respond better to education targeted for adult learners as opposed to Marine Corps indoctrination.
    Note, it has nothing to do with respect, or following orders, or being tough.
    You can teach people how to follow orders, and the importance of doing so, without trying to come across as a Drill instructor.
    There is little to no resemblance between the behaviors carried out in a "hoorah" academy and the real world of a fire dept.
    I guess the real question is, can you teach people how to be firemen and follow orders without having them yell hoorah and carry a guidon?

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    Originally posted by CALFFBOU
    The OCFA Academy is pretty much any other academy you would find in the state- paramilitary, progressive and top notch.
    Same as my Academy, well minus the Guidon (or however it's spelled). We ran..... and ran...... and ran....... LMAO.

    Originally posted by CALFFBOU
    This is why people come from all over the nation to test, work and live in California.
    I thought it was for the "Mad Money....." Or for the days off..... Or because we have some of the most beautiful women..... Or.....

    Originally posted by flipper123
    The military uses the "boot camp" method to basically break down a new recruit,strip away his former identity, and mold them into what they want. The idea is to get the recruit to think, walk and talk exactly how the military wants them to.
    This is how many of the Depts. here look at their Academies. The same holds true to the Colleges that hold an Academy. The terrible thing is that locally the Academies that offer an Academy have gone away from the Participants being required to be "sponsored by a Fire Dept." The Academies are now seen by the College Board Members that it's just another Class and the most important thing is the $$$. Sucks, when we really need a great/quality product (Firefighters).

    Aight, well hope I answered your ?.....
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    I thought about this a bit more, and I think what we were noticing the most about the OCFA Academy, and what it was like at the first Academy I went to, is the amount of time and effort spent on "punishment", for lack of a better word.
    If the recruits weren't performing well, or lacked proper motivation, or didnt line up their gear, they had to do pushups, or PT, or whatever.
    At my dept, there is no "punishment" given out for these things.
    It is made very clear on the first day that if you are not able to meet the requirements, you will be fired.
    There is no yelling, there is no threatening recruits with endless PT.
    It's very simple and calm:
    You perform the evolution.
    You are graded.
    If you cannot meet the requirement, with proper remediation, you go downtown and they fire you.
    We lost 6 out of 20 in my class.
    Seems like they waste alot of time yelling and doing punishment.
    If a recruit cannot perform when his career is on the line, if he can't remember how to tie a know when he knows he will be fired for lack of performance, what does making him run laps do?

    I experienced both types of Academy, and it was alot more stressful when they didn't drop us for pushups; you knew the entire time that you were basically 2 mistakes away from termination.
    If that didn't scare you, why would some fat guy in a helmet scare you?

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    Originally posted by flipper123
    At my dept, there is no "punishment" given out for these things.
    It is made very clear on the first day that if you are not able to meet the requirements, you will be fired.
    There is no yelling, there is no threatening recruits with endless PT.
    I would rather be physically punished then told that I'm gonna lose my Job that I've worked so hard to earn and not be able to provide for my Family.

    Originally posted by flipper123
    If a recruit cannot perform when his career is on the line, if he can't remember how to tie a know when he knows he will be fired for lack of performance, what does making him run laps do?
    They offer this to all of their Recruits as well..... Members of the "Cadre" are even willing to stay later and come in on weekends to help their Recruits succeed. This is still part of the time that they're "weeding out" those that really don't belong in the Fire Service.

    Originally posted by flipper123
    I experienced both types of Academy, and it was alot more stressful when they didn't drop us for pushups; you knew the entire time that you were basically 2 mistakes away from termination.
    If that didn't scare you, why would some fat guy in a helmet scare you?
    Without discipline there is no motivation to perform correctly and mold into their Dept. You were in the Military and I thank you for your Service, however even as a child the Core Values of the USMC were instilled in me which I appreciate now..... As far as "some fat guy in a helmet" he's not just "some fat guy in a helmet." He's their Mentor; one of the Guys/Gals who are gonna give them the skills needed to save their cans when they're on the Job. Dunno how a Guy that is willing to spend so much time and energy on the "future of their Dept." can be disrespected.

    Originally posted by flipper123
    There is little to no resemblance between the behaviors carried out in a "hoorah" academy and the real world of a fire dept.
    Huh..... Every Department that I've volunteered/worked for have similar Values as the Military. Things such as: Self discipline, respect, chain of command, self confidence, the ability to think clearly when under high stress situations, adapting/improvising/overcoming, the need to pay attention to details, knowing there's a "bigger cause than yourself" and putting others before yourself. So, I'm gonna agree to disagree with ya on this point.....

    My feelings are part from watching the Series and also having numerous personal/professional friends that currently work for the OCFA.....
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

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    I certainly respect the values expressed by the OCFA- they appear to be a dept that anyone would be proud to work at.
    I will use an example from the tv show to illustrate my point:
    They were told at the beginning of the Academy that they needed to be able to don their gear in under 1 minute. The importance was expressed in detail many times.
    Multiple times during the Academy the Cadre expressed their frustration to the recruits about their inability to meet this time standard. The Capt yelled, threatened punishment, etc.
    Yet, at week 12, the majority of the recruits could not meet that expectation.

    In our Academy, this would have been a simple pass/fail evolution.
    Don the gear in under a minute is a pass.
    Failure requires a retest.
    Failure of the retest requires a trip downtown where a board is convened to determine if you will be allowed to continue your training.
    Sometimes the recruit is terminated right then; more often they are returned to training with the understanding that another failure in testing will result in termination.
    No yelling, no wasting time, no "punishment".

    The recruits are treated like adults that are hired to perform a job, and the inability to perform that job will result in termination.

    Without discipline there is no motivation to perform correctly and mold into their Dept.
    Discipline to me doesn't mean a drill instructor screaming till he's blue in the face. Discipline means doing it right or facing the consequences. In the field there are no DI's yelling at you to clean the toilet- you do your job or face the consequences.

    Things such as: Self discipline, respect, chain of command, self confidence, the ability to think clearly when under high stress situations, adapting/improvising/overcoming, the need to pay attention to details, knowing there's a "bigger cause than yourself" and putting others before yourself.

    I agree with these values entirely. We just disagree with what it takes to instill them.
    Last edited by flipper123; 12-03-2009 at 11:12 PM.

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    flipper123- I have a question for you- When you keep mentioning "our class" and "our academy", was this for a full-time, career position on a department?

    Also- I will very blunt with you and say what I know will **** off most people here- The California Fire Service is very progressive. What the hell does that mean? It means thinking outside of the box, not saying- "But we have always done it that way" and embracing the best way to do things and get the job done.

    The OCFA academy is ran that way not because it is the OCFA, but it is a standard around the state. Look up any other academy on YouTube- LA County, LA City, Ventura County, Glendale, San Diego, Kern County and you will see the same thing- Progressive, sharp, paramilitary and impressive firefighting.

    Please check out this Kern County Academy video- www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-NpVaTUsSY

    I think you will slowly see what I am talking about....Bou

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    Good lord There is a structural equivalent to Cal-Fire...
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    flipper123- I have a question for you- When you keep mentioning "our class" and "our academy", was this for a full-time, career position on a department?

    Also- I will very blunt with you and say what I know will **** off most people here- The California Fire Service is very progressive. What the hell does that mean? It means thinking outside of the box, not saying- "But we have always done it that way" and embracing the best way to do things and get the job done.

    The OCFA academy is ran that way not because it is the OCFA, but it is a standard around the state. Look up any other academy on YouTube- LA County, LA City, Ventura County, Glendale, San Diego, Kern County and you will see the same thing- Progressive, sharp, paramilitary and impressive firefighting.

    Please check out this Kern County Academy video- www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-NpVaTUsSY

    I think you will slowly see what I am talking about....Bou
    Do you really really think this show is interesting to the average joe citizen? OCFA took what looked to be just like every other academy in the country and turned it into a bunch of hollywood camera gloating jerkoffs stirring up drama each week like some daytime soap opera. Oh my will johnny survive the smoke house??? doom doom doom dooooooom!!!! stay tuned next week for another episode of "day's of our lives as a ocfd proby" Good god man if this is what you call "thinking outside the box" then someone needs to put a lid on that box.
    Last edited by kingofdahill; 12-04-2009 at 12:50 AM.

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    You have to Admit that^ is kinda funny.
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flipper123 View Post
    Which do you feel produces a better probationary?
    I'm going to take an opposite approach from other here and go with a non-hoorah type of academy. However, that also bears the difference in dept sizes as well. A big dept where you may have 20 or more recruits and with some without any fire certs, then perhaps an hoorah academy may be a better approach.

    For us, we are a medium sized city and not a very large dept. Hiring classes can consist between 3 to 12 people generally speaking. The last several years we see smaller sizes of groups. The difference is though, we also require higher standards just to get on the job, meaning an applicant has to posess state FF 1 and 2, and an associates in fire science or higher degree. This cuts the pool down, but it also gets people who should also have an understanding of what the job will be like.

    When doing the academy, there really isn't formation, no marching stuff, no uniform inspections, instead the focus is placed upon the job skills and learning how to operate within our standards. Compared to the OCFA, our academy is more relaxed, this doesn't mean we are behind the "power curve" in any way, we just don't have to worry about teaching someone the job from scratch either. In the OCFA you knew there were some who have never done any FF in the past and even an episode of a guy trying to hoist a roof ladder properly. For us, the recruits already posess those skills, some things may need to be tweaked, but we also are not spending a day of class talking about the different tools and how they are used.

    So in the end, I'm not going to say an hoorah academy is any better, but what makes the difference is how a dept is set up and what the priorities are. Our recruits are not isolated to a fire academy or training area for their training, they meet at different stations and crews also will train with recruits many times. As for probation, there is no segregation of our new guys from the crew, they are not told to keep their mouth shut, nor study all day when not training or working, the probies are not doing all the cleaning and so forth. Depts do things different, doesn't make one better or one worse, just different.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Here is a better version of the OCFA #20 video- www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze4eDYIDyZE

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    tradition = this is how we always done it so it must be good

    progressive = this is a "new" way of doing it so it must be good.


    the ultra military oorah academies seem to be the whackerish academies. Its great you can march in formation, but maybe that time would be better spent on, oh I dunno job related skills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    flipper123- I have a question for you- When you keep mentioning "our class" and "our academy", was this for a full-time, career position on a department?
    Yup.
    I went through the Wa State Fire Academy (hoorahh type) as a volunteer.
    I was hired by Tacoma Fire Dept and went through their academy.

    The California Fire Service is very progressive.
    Curious that you would consider this type of training to be "progressive".
    It looks like the same stuff done in the military for about 100 years or so.

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    I think the biggest thing is that we are a PARA-military organization. Not the military. Or course I want the new firefighters to be respectful and to pay attention. And I do think there is a benefit in pt as punishment,ie PASS alarm activations requiring pushups. I don't think however that a new recruit needs to be constantly bombarded with yelling and punishment. Sure you need pride in your department, then show them pride not ****iness. I have been through two seperate academies, one I would call a rookie school the other an academy it was more structured, but just enough that it produced some well trained, thinking firefighters.(yes they were both for career depts). I personally don't want a firefighter that will go into somewhere, just cause I tell them too, we need well trained thinking firefighters on the street.

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    Another OCFD/OCFA Academy video from 1990- www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVr8ZFwTmqY

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    The OCFA Academy is pretty much any other academy you would find in the state- paramilitary, progressive and top notch.

    No offense, but if your department or these ways of doing business seem odd to you, you might be behind the power curve. The military has been doing this for years, if not, people wont take it serious.

    When the OCFA test, it draws THOUSAND of applicants to the ratio of 200 applicants to 1 job. If selected, you are the elite, best of the best.

    Here is an older video of the OCFA still being paramilitary, drilling and using a guild-on. OCFA Class 20. OCFD Class 16 and 17.

    This is why people come from all over the nation to test, work and live in California.

    Bou
    Nice videos, No different than any other academy in the country. What makes the " California Fire service" so much more progressive than any other state in the nation???? Ive worked on both coasts and i haven't seen any more progression on one coast than the other. So when did you become the spokesperson for California? Can you give us an example of this progressiveness you talk about from your own department?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyle77 View Post
    Nice videos, No different than any other academy in the country. What makes the " California Fire service" so much more progressive than any other state in the nation???? Ive worked on both coasts and i haven't seen any more progression on one coast than the other. So when did you become the spokesperson for California? Can you give us an example of this progressiveness you talk about from your own department?
    Now you've gone and done it. You are from the East Coast, and you dared defile and question the progressive West Coast.

    Cue the Micheal Myers music as the stories of being stalked, bullied, and "I'm innocent I didn't do a thing who me?" act will begin in 5..4..3..2..1..action
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    Philly's academy was what you'd call the Hoorah type. We started with I think 90+ recruits and graduated 80 or so. I would guess 90% had no prior fire experience. Philly also has an EMT portion, i.e., the first two months we became trained as EMTs, even those with prior EMT or Paramedic certs (again about 10%) still go through the PFD EMT course. They kinda use the EMT part to weed out those who they think won't make it. We ran in formation, did PT, had a guidon, and were given two forms of punishment for minor infractions. Instructor might give you 10, 20 pushups, or assign a memo. If given a memo, you would have to write a memo to the director of the academy (a deputy chief) apologizing for your misdeed, explaining why you forgot your name tag or forgot to address instructor as sir/ma'am, or whatever. The other part of the memo is you had to pay $1 into a coffee can. By the end of the academy, we held a pizza party from all the memo proceeds. It wasn't as bad as OCFA in the Hoorah stuff, but I'm guessing that gets played up a bit more for the cameras, too.

    All along the instructors are pushing you to be your brother's keeper. If you forgot your nametag, they might be as mad that 80 other cadets didn't notice the small details as they were the one guy forgot it. It reinforced (to quote Mikeyboy above):

    "Self discipline, respect, chain of command, self confidence, the ability to think clearly when under high stress situations, adapting/improvising/overcoming, the need to pay attention to details, knowing there's a "bigger cause than yourself" and putting others before yourself. "

    It also goes along way to establishing what I call the Flag Words: Honor, Committment, Duty, Family, Tradition, Compassion, Integrity, Discipline, Camaraderie, etc. (PFA auditorium has 16 flags each with a single word emblazoned such as these to remind us what we're there for.) It's a break you down to build you up theory of team building. As noted used effectively by the military for years.

    As for the more serious stuff, like if you failed skills, or couldn't get gear on in a minute, etc., they had a "Cadet Assistance Program", where you basically had to go early, stay late, give up lunch, whatever, and the instructors would work with you to remediate your shortcomings. Once you're past the EMT part, you kinda know you're gonna make it unless you REALLY eff up, because they alreay had too much $$$ invested to not see you through.

    IIRC, we practiced the gear under a minute about ten minutes a day for two, maybe three weeks (four day weeks). Then one day the instuctors kinda timed us "for real" without telling us, and we had it. Again, majority of us never tuched bunker gear prior to the academy. I can't fathom 12 weeks and not getting it right - and most of the OCFA guys have prior experience?

    For those without experience, I'd say it's the right way to go. My classmate FireFuss might disagree, PFD doesn't recognize prior certs, so he had to learn the PFD way to throw ladders, get water, etc., even though he already had it all down. If everyone coming in already has FF1 and FF2, I could see being more lax in terms of the petty BS. But it suits our style, I guess. We graduated 80 guys as FF1, and later classes now as FF1 and FF2, with 90% never having held a hose or whatever.
    Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyle77 View Post
    Nice videos, No different than any other academy in the country. What makes the " California Fire service" so much more progressive than any other state in the nation???? Ive worked on both coasts and i haven't seen any more progression on one coast than the other. So when did you become the spokesperson for California? Can you give us an example of this progressiveness you talk about from your own department?
    Well Kyle- So far no one else has produced a video here. I only did that to back up my statements and answer the OP's question of- "Why are they like this?" The best answer I could give is that they are progressive. The academy facility is less than 5 years old, most of their front line and even reserve equipment is less than 5 years old and they are pretty cutting edge on their tactics and strategy.

    As for me making the claim of being the "spokesperson for California", I didn't catch that anywhere. Can you please show all of us where that was written? Also, that career academy did you attend on the West Coast as I dint remember your prior department hosting one.

    As for my own department, I wouldn't take your bait and play your game. Again, personal attacks are not my way in here. But have fun with it.

    Bou

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    Quote Originally Posted by KyleWickman View Post

    Very good video! Looks very paramilitary to me. I like the following video points-

    - Like the OCFA, the students are in their business attire.
    - Like the OCFA, the students are doing push ups.
    - Are video mark 2:00 an Instructor asks them- "Who walks the walk?" And they answer back as a group. I love that!
    - Mark 2:27, a student get spoken to for leaving a nozzle on the group. Good paramilitary stuff!

    A very good video, love seeing the tightness and paramilitary environment. Good stuff.

    Bou

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