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Thread: In-house training as opposed to state academy?

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    Default In-house training as opposed to state academy?

    I was hoping to get your input on this ideology that is practised by the department I am hoping to join up with.

    I met with the department and it definitely seems like a great group. However their training policy slightly concerns me both in an optimistic 'thats awesome' and a pessimistic 'that seems like an accident waiting to happen' way. I will elaborate:

    They said that their training is entirely in-house, and that they don't use the Firefighter I +II courses whether you have them or you need them. They said that they do it in a Boot Camp sort of way:

    --Everyone starts off 'the same': You have a list of requirements you need signed off on in order to progress past induction stage. To finish induction stage, which focuses on familiarisation with your kit and Scott Pak qualification, you get taken into a Level 1 Burn.

    --From here you have to complete an additional set of requirements to exit your Probie period. During this time you're active on scenes, getting signatures as you go under the guidance of a badged member. Then you test.

    --From here you become badged, get full privileges, etc. You also become attached to a specific unit: aerial, engine, rescue.

    They said that the induction stage takes about a month to complete, and then the probie period an additional approximate six months; these numbers are loosely quantified due to schedules, with no fixed training times.


    I do quite enjoy the principle behind this, since FF1 and 2 classes are a pain to get into, at least around here, but at the same time it is concerning to say the least. The times work out to be somewhat the same, and I hear they do pretty decent at it, but in a business where you trust the guy next to you with your life, is this an okay policy to mess around with?

    Any opinions on this training scheme?

    I hope this is coherent enough! And as a site note, I apologise to those who replied to my last thread; I apparently never responded after I got busy with some stuff (graduation and what-not,) sorry and thanks for the replies! I noticed that today, but I didn't want to revive the thread a month later...

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    Some departments do their own training

    Some do good some to bad, suggest no matter which way you go is to attend any class in and out of the dept that you can

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    My dept. does not require FF1/FF2 so it has never been pushed. Some members are quite happy with only in house training others like myself are not, so I attend all the training I can, you would be surprised what kind of classes you can find in your area, I live just south of nowhere and the outside training keeps me busy. Just because FF1/2 are not required doesn't mean you shouldn't strive for them if you can.
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    Alright thanks. Atleast I know now that this isn't too outlandish of a policy. Although I do intend to still pursue my FF1 for my current department (maintaining dual membership.)

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    Any Department that does NOT require FFI or FFII are inviting accidents to happen, we wont even talk about the liability involved if a member gets hurt badly or god forbid killed. There is a reason that uniform training standards are created, there is also a reason that these same uniform training standards are not followed by many volunteer organizations: because they feel that they are too demanding, constrictive, time consuming, or a combination of all and or for other reasons. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. My organization has an in-house training program which will sign you off on riding for exterior operations only. You are required to obtain IFSAC-Pro-Board FFI within 2 years of joining the company. If you desire to advance through the ranks and become an officer or acting company officer, you must obtain FFII (among other classes.)
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    Pennsylvania requires completion of 188 hrs of state certified instruction before being placed in certain functions on an active fireground. Having said this, the requirement is NOT state law, so individual fire companies can adjust their individual requirements. Where the State Fire Academy has the "Upper Hand" is in additional training. Without completing the 188 hours, the firefighter is NOT eligible to attend any additional state certified training. My department has set requirements for new members where a "Mentor" is assigned to the Probationary Firefighter. The "Probie" is required to meet with a captain or Lieutenant on each apparatus (we have 9 apparatus) and get "Signed-off" on minimum knowledge of all major pieces of equipment on each rig. ( 4 engines, Aerial, Heavy Rescue, Tanker & two Utility/brush rigs) Firefighter I & II are STRONGLY suggested. There are numerous "In House" training programs for B/A proficiency, Rescue, Wildland, and Aerial operations, but we try to avoid running programs that are in direct competition with Pa. State Local Level courses. Our county school and Local level classes are selected and we try to include our mutual aid companies in the state courses to promote working together so that everyone benefits from the unified resource when mutual aid is required. We might train a number of individuals on operating the aerial, but then when in house training is complete, schecule a "Truck Company Operations Course" to the state standard and taught by experienced truck company instructors at our station. We would extend an invitation to our mutual aid truck companies, so that we are all singing from the same hymnal on the fireground.

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    in-house CAN be a good program....and certainly you get the training and focus they want you to have.....that said, a state and/or Pro-Board credentials are important if you are ever going to move on, out of that program......another consideration is how you adapt to the educational environment.....with me, I like and get alot more from a structured program where everyone learns the same, uniforms, assignments, quizes, etc. - some folks are better off on segmented 'loose' agendas.....that said, most departments will have you on a learning curve with their processes regardless, but I think a program universally accepted is the best way to enter the field!

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    Yea that is definitely a concern of mine... sure this company may train me to essentially FF2, and qualify me to interior, but as soon as I move on, I am back at stage one gopher...

    I do intend to attend the Pro-board courses, simply for this reason, but it is good to know that everyone isn't telling me to make out my Will along with my Application.

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    On thing that I would ask is why they do their own training. If they tell you because of the difficulty in getting spaces in the state courses, or because it's too far away for most people, that may be a good reason. Check into the requirements that they have for each phase and see how they compare to the FF1 and FF2 standards.

    If they tell you that they do this because they know better what skills you need, or you don't need all of the stuff that FF1 teaches, be cautious.

    We require FF1, but we also have a knowledge and skills package that members have to go through after FF1, before being fully cut loose to ride. The skills duplicate FF1 skills and end in a "final" practical.

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    As you note, the portability of the "in-house" classes is zero. If you never plan on leaving or working outside that department, fine.

    If you're looking to move on in the fire service, you need documentable training which meets certain standards.

    The base course in NY for many years, "Essentials of Firemanship," a state course taught by state instructors, had zero standing outside the state of NY.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Any dept. that only uses in house training is like a family that only marries withing the family, you know, inbreeding. And we all know how that works out. There should some kind of state standard that they have as a minimum.
    slackjawedyokel likes this.

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    ^Well, I will have to be careful then that I don't end up having babies with a long lost sister.... *roflmao*

    The time in this unit that I intend to spend is somewhere around 4 years...

    From my understanding, it sounds like their standards are higher than the State. More in depth, but perhaps more targeted...

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    At your age, I don't think I'd give four years of service somewhere that couldn't give me portable certs.

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    If I understand correctly, I can get portable certs, but they simply aren't mandatory. I know that I should atleast get my HAZMAT cert out of this, since they are one of only a few teams in the state.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Highschoolvolunteer View Post

    From my understanding, it sounds like their standards are higher than the State. More in depth, but perhaps more targeted...
    I can't say without being there, but from this, it sounds like they feel they can do it better than the state. That attitude worries me a little.

    We also have higher standards than the mandated FF1, but we use FF1 as the foundation to build on. I realize that not everybody has the access to FF1 courses that we do in Maryland, but it sounds like the courses are available, they are just choosing not to use them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FF-Andy View Post
    At your age, I don't think I'd give four years of service somewhere that couldn't give me portable certs.
    NJ only offers NJ FF1. It transfers no where. Same with NY I believe. Portability isn't always an easy option.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    My department requires FF1 to become interior and we also give in house training. As others said it can be great as long as the training is done well. Although, FF1 is the only requirement as the foundation for us we are still motivated by our officers to take other courses but as you also said you plan to take FF1 for yourself anyway as well as other courses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    NJ only offers NJ FF1. It transfers no where. Same with NY I believe. Portability isn't always an easy option.
    As I recall, the NY certificate in and of itself transfers nowhere, but the course prepares one to take the necessary tests, which require payment of a fee. Those who want portability can get it. Those who never plan to work outside NY need not pay.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    NJ only offers NJ FF1. It transfers no where. Same with NY I believe. Portability isn't always an easy option.
    Bones, The state DFS has issued and certified a Firefighter Level 2 certification again. As far as my department, when you join you attend basic first aid and cpr right away. You can than start riding as an observer. Within your first 12 months you must attend and successfully complete the state 140 hour basic firefighter level one program. We maintain our own state accredited academy so luckily we run basic firefighter programs about 4 times a year which gets guys certified within a few months of joining. Once you complete the basic program, you must be signed off by the training officer and fire chief to become an interior firefighter, this is accomplished by an additional 3 training burns with you particular company members. Stay safe all.
    Gary
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    You pose some interesting questions.

    One thing about the strictly in-house training is that it likely hasn't been vetted through a formal process. If a member was to get injured or killed and an investigation begins, their training will certainly be called into question. The departments, it's chiefs, and the training officers would certainly have a lot more to stand on from a legal standpoint if FF1 (and possibly FF2) were required, or at least encouraged.

    I also worry that the information that's being passed on to the new members - what's the source of the information they're delivering? Are they getting building construction and fire behavior classes and things of that nature? If so, where's the information coming from? Is it current? If these classes aren't being delivered, the members aren't getting information that could have a lot of impact on their situational awareness and safety.

    Have the members received all of the NFPA 1403 required classes prior to going into their first burn? If not, the department is asking for a lot of problems if something goes wrong.

    I completely understand the use of an in-house program to bring the new members up-to-speed on apparatus familiarization, basic skills, and the like, but I'm not really comfortable with a complete in-house program.

    I will admit that some of my views of this topic are biased for two reasons:
    - I work as an adjunct instructor for our state fire training agency, and I'm passionate about members getting the basic, nationally-recognized, minimum firefighter training standard (Firefighter I as described in NFPA 1001 - current edition).
    - I live, work, and volunteer in a state where virtually ALL fire training is free, and firefighter I and II classes are given all over the state several times a year. It's rare that any of my volunteer members would ever have to travel more than 30 minutes to get their FF1/FF2 classes - often much less than that.
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    Thanks for the reply.

    I will have to play it by ear, but I don't think they meet NFPA 1403 before the first burn, because they say that they do that within 4 weeks of enrolment.

    I just looked through they're website and noticed that all of the members are listed as to FFII, so either we were told incorrectly, or one of the officers is an instructor... I know that some departments do the courses... hmm

    Things seem a bit strange looking in from the outside... all of the members that are listed are Engineers (Sr or Jr), or officers... Also they're membership is completely nonselective only pending a CORI check... I guess we will have to play it by ear, T minus 2 months until I join..

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