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Thread: Are we all firefighters or not?

  1. #21
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    I could not agree more with what Tree and Fyred up have stated in this thread.

    I come from long island. Arguably one of the wealthiest volunteer (if not the THE wealthiest) volunteer fire systems in the world. We are talking absolute top of the line equipment in just about every department save a few. Countless millions spent on equipment with all too often bare minimum training to utilize it.

    The issues I see in my department are the same as anywhere else. Majority of the members, just want to wear the costume. There are certainly the truly enthusiastic few who love the "job." Unfortunately even those members don't always have the time to attend trainings. Rarely is training or call response a topic for discussion at the monthly gatherings.

    Unfortunately this thread is essentially a volunteer vs paid discussion, which has been beaten to death, resurrected and beaten again.

    But no matter how many times the subject arises, a solution to the issues never rises. Truth be told it is impossible to ever balance out the training standards between a volunteer department and guys who can be paid 48 hours a week to enhance their abilities and knowledge as a firefighter.

    FDNY for example has a 4.5 month academy at this time. Subtract all the physical fitness stuff (which is still very important) and maybe we can cut it down to 3 months. The counterpart to that in the volunteer service is a 2 week course on the basics, which unless your home department greatly expands upon you will never excel past due to field experience being very few and far between.

    The public, rarely knows the difference or even cares until you tell them its going to cost them more money or their own home catches fire. Expecting a public push for a higher standard in the fire service is a pipe dream.

    It has been clear to me for some time that the only way training will legitimately get accomplished is by state or federal requirements. Expecting the department itself to suddenly see the light and find that much free time in their day is unrealistic. So whats the answer here? How do we set a minimum standard? How do we turn a social club into a fire department? I fear we will never find the answers and usually the way we see the light to some degree is through terrible tragedy.
    Last edited by BrooklynBravest; 11-18-2013 at 04:51 PM.


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    My opinions on this topic are well known.

    I oppose statewide minimum training standards for volunteers. I have no issues with departments setting their own reasonable minimum standards which should be based on local conditions.

    Volunteers should never be held to the same standards are career members.

    I have stated my reasons numerous times in the past for all three beliefs.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  3. #23
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    In regards to my upcoming promotion???!!!??? to asst. training officer, I have a few more questions. Is it a reasonable idea to train the guys that want train and leave the dead weight behind? A lot of training officers would beat their head into the wall trying to get everyone to train. I have a few new guys and some others that are well motivated, as well as others that could care less and only achieve the 30 hour minimum. I figure the other guys will either see that they are being left behind and participate or fade away and quit. I cant raise the training standard(not enough votes) but I should be able to get the guys some extra training. What do you guys think? Good idea or am I setting myself up for failure?
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    In regards to my upcoming promotion???!!!??? to asst. training officer, I have a few more questions. Is it a reasonable idea to train the guys that want train and leave the dead weight behind? A lot of training officers would beat their head into the wall trying to get everyone to train. I have a few new guys and some others that are well motivated, as well as others that could care less and only achieve the 30 hour minimum. I figure the other guys will either see that they are being left behind and participate or fade away and quit. I cant raise the training standard(not enough votes) but I should be able to get the guys some extra training. What do you guys think? Good idea or am I setting myself up for failure?
    one thing that has helped me is a "tiered " training program for nightly drills. one of the biggest mistakes made is to try and find a happy medium for training. Some nights I do an all hands drill for the camaraderie, but many nights I split into advanced training and basic training. Nothing is more discouraging to a good 10 year man than a class on salvage covers or more overwhelming to a new guy than some advanced techniques that are over his head.
    ?

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Is it a reasonable idea to train the guys that want train and leave the dead weight behind?
    Balance priviledge with duty. Determine what the requirements for any given position/function/etc should be and train accordingly.

    Yard breathers and "banquet firemen" get general safety and operations stuff (OSHA 8 hours, et al). Drivers spend time on driving and equipment operation. The folks who want to actually fight fire need to stay up on their skills.

    The EMS CME model might be a good one to look at. Paramedics need a lot more (and different) CME hours than and EMT-B.

    Probably the most important consideration is to ensure that everyone who wants to train has the opportunity to do so, and in an appropriate manner for their skill level.

    If you're looking for drills, FH has a bunch, as does FirefighterCloseCalls. IFSTA put out a book of company level drills as well. Plenty of resources.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    In regards to my upcoming promotion???!!!??? to asst. training officer, I have a few more questions. Is it a reasonable idea to train the guys that want train and leave the dead weight behind? A lot of training officers would beat their head into the wall trying to get everyone to train. I have a few new guys and some others that are well motivated, as well as others that could care less and only achieve the 30 hour minimum. I figure the other guys will either see that they are being left behind and participate or fade away and quit. I cant raise the training standard(not enough votes) but I should be able to get the guys some extra training. What do you guys think? Good idea or am I setting myself up for failure?
    I applaud your effort man. I have a friend that is trying to lead the way on culture change at his hall and he spends a lot of time pulling his hair out....but he IS making some progress one firefighter at a time.

    Have you ever read "Winning" by Jack Welch, former CEO of GE? He talks about the 20/70/10 rule. 20% of people are high achievers and will not need anything to motivate them to train. The bottom 10% are losers that need culled. Spend your time training up the middle 70% because that's the demographic where gains can be made.

    "Lead by example" has been a USMC mantra for years.

    Attaboy Conrad!

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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    CJ, the biggest impediment to what you propose will be the VFD's. We see that opposition on these boards.
    I'd put my POC dept. up against most any smaller career dept. 8 of the "volunteers" have FFII, about 6 have FFI, 3 of us are Journeymen FF's. 1 has an Associate's Degree in Fire Science, and 3 of us just about have the credits for the degree. The rest (about 10) have the minimum 36 hour class required by Ohio, but have had the equivilant training of FFI or more, they just don't have a piece of paper with that cert. We average 4-6 hours of training a month, mostly done by a certified instructor. It takes over 20 hours of training and driving before a firefighter works their way through qualification to drive all the trucks on a run. We run automatic aid with 3 bordering Career Dept's because they respect our capability, dedication, and knowledge.
    Your blanket statements are just pure bunk.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I'd put my POC dept. up against most any smaller career dept. 8 of the "volunteers" have FFII, about 6 have FFI, 3 of us are Journeymen FF's. 1 has an Associate's Degree in Fire Science, and 3 of us just about have the credits for the degree. The rest (about 10) have the minimum 36 hour class required by Ohio, but have had the equivilant training of FFI or more, they just don't have a piece of paper with that cert. We average 4-6 hours of training a month, mostly done by a certified instructor. It takes over 20 hours of training and driving before a firefighter works their way through qualification to drive all the trucks on a run. We run automatic aid with 3 bordering Career Dept's because they respect our capability, dedication, and knowledge.
    Your blanket statements are just pure bunk.
    Take a look at LAFE's remarks. Direct your comments to him. Your VFD sounds more like an aberration than the norm.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    I think it would be more helpful for VFD's if you were allowed to obtain your FFI & II over a longer period of time. Ohio requires a minimum 36 hour course to be a volunteer, but it would be nice if you could get credit for weekly training (on specific topics) to get your FFI & II. I think 18 months for both certs would be reasonable. I certainly think FFI should be a minimum standard after 2 years for a Voluteer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    Take a look at LAFE's remarks. Direct your comments to him. Your VFD sounds more like an aberration than the norm.
    LA does NOT represent the bulk of VFD's.
    While my VFD IS above average, there are many like it or close.

  11. #31
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    In Ark you can request an instructor from the state fire academy to teach a weekend class (12 to 16 hours)
    For no charge -most classes they will come to your station. We have a top notch yet under utilized state fire training academy. Ark passed an act years ago that helps fund fire departments in the state. One of the stipulations was that your firefighter must attend 24 hours a year of state certified training, after much whining , it has been dumbed down to 16 with many trying to cut it more. Sad -
    ?

  12. #32
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    Delivery methods, standards and sorting the must have from the nice to know.

    Maybe even more important than setting some minimum standards is finding delivery methods that work on a volunteer schedule. Not reducing hours for volunteers, just making sure it is more accommodating to them. It takes effort at the state level though, travelling class rooms, barracks at centralized training facilities (so the students from out of the area have somewhere to stay) and weird hours so dedicated volunteers who don't have dedicated employers can still get training. Bankers hours work great for career guys, but not so much for volunteers.

    Personally I'd be all for utilizing unemployment to let volunteers get in a block of time to attend training. It gets used for far less useful things than training a firefighter. Obviously this has room for abuse, but what doesn't.

    As far as standards, I agree all firefighters should be trained to the same level on standard functions. I think there needs to be some focus on just what is critical, what is nice to know and what needs to be all alone in its own class.

    I used to be involved with an 80 hour volunteer academy that met Proboard standards for FF1. It was a good introduction, but I found it very frustrating because instead of focusing on the most critical skills it just touched on a little of everything. 4 hours on salvage, 4 hours on auto extrication, 2 hours on knots, 4 hours on wildland. All these little nice to know things ate up time for teaching the stuff that will make them effective beginning firefighters. Salvage is nice, and saving property is good but lacking good salvage technique is unlikely to get someone killed. Another 4 hours on ladders would be a good trade. Auto extrication is also an important skill but 4 hours is just enough to get you hurt, auto extrication deserves its own stand alone training and for a department that only does fire, a completely unnecessary skill. Wildland same thing, 4 hours in a structure fire focused class is not going to teach you anymore than 4 hours at drill back home, and if wildland isn't a service delivered another waste of time that could have gone towards real structure fire basics.

    The entire training system in most states is based on the needs of the career fire departments. As simple as FF1 & 2, why. Why not FF1-10?

    If you want buy in from the VFDs some concessions should be made to accommodate them. Segregating into paid and volunteer certs is only a solution for ensuring compliance at the very lowest levels (80 hours for a volunteer, 240+ for career in my state). Some states don't even make that much effort leaving it to the individual department to decide when somebody is trained enough.
    Last edited by Here and there; 11-18-2013 at 10:39 PM.

  13. #33
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    The Department of Fire Services/Massachusetts Fire Academy has the Firefighter Recruit training program for the career firefighters and the Call/Volunteer program for those firefighters.

    Programs are taught by firefighters and officers from both sides of the proverbial "fence", and both programs allow the recruits and the call/volunteer to take the FF 1-2 certifcation exam. The differnce is the timeframe.

    The Recruit program is 9 weeks (it used to be 12, it was revamped) the Call/Volunteer program is 6 months (2 nights a week, every other weekend).

    The Call /Volunteer program classes are done regionally, with the burn days done the Academy's facility in Stow, MA for the eastern part of the state, in Springfield at the Springfield FD's facility for the western part of the state.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  14. #34
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    NJ FF1 is running, I believe, about 110 hours now. Must be completed within 1 year.

    Its interesting seeing everyone's thoughts/feelings on this topic.
    "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?

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    Unfortunately this thread is essentially a volunteer vs paid discussion, which has been beaten to death, resurrected and beaten again.
    NO IT ISN'T. Not in any way is this a paid versus volunteer discussion.

    It is a dedication issue, it is a "We are just as good as them" with absolutely no desire to be that good.

    Why is it in my area the majority of volunteer firefighters are certified to a minimum of FF1? Many to FF2, some to Driver Operator, Officer 1, and even Instructor 1. How can this be? It goes against the very grain of responses here. Many VFDs require some level of certification.

    The truth is other than my IFSAC certifications that I earned while a civilian CFR firefighter for the WiANG, every other cert I have I earned as a volunteer on my own time and my own dime. I wanted it bad enough to make it work. THAT seperates me from the wannabe crowd. To me it is entirely a level of dedication that simply isn't met by all volunteers. I will never understand why anyone would put their life on the line with little or no training while claiming to be a firefighter.
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  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    My opinions on this topic are well known.

    And in my opinion they are ludicrous and wrong.

    I oppose statewide minimum training standards for volunteers. I have no issues with departments setting their own reasonable minimum standards which should be based on local conditions.

    The problem is many VFDs will set no standard, or one so low that being vertical, and breathing, qualify them for line firefighting duty.

    Volunteers should never be held to the same standards are career members.

    I believe that until you can prove to me that fires, auto extrications, rescues, and any other emergency calls, somehow know they are in volunteer fire department served areas and for that reason are somehow less dangerous than those in areas served by career departments your position is completely indefensible.

    I have stated my reasons numerous times in the past for all three beliefs.

    Your beliefs are counter to common sense.
    National or state standards for firefighters are for OUR own good as well as for the safety of the citizens we serve.
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    Do we all need the same certifications? Do we all fight the same types of fires? Same capabilities? Same equipment?

    Our last major working structure fire for my department was a cotton gin (suspected arson) in 2004. Very rural area without a lot of houses. Mostly ranching country with oil and gas production. So most of our fires are oilfield fires or wildfires. One generally leads to the other. As a result, most of our training is centered around those two types of fires. And it is training we do with our equipment. The senior members with the experience train the younger members without.
    Last edited by WVFD705; 11-19-2013 at 01:05 AM.

  18. #38
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    Do we all need the same certifications? Do we all fight the same types of fires? Same capabilities? Same equipment?

    Our last major working structure fire for my department was a cotton gin (suspected arson) in 2004. Very rural area without a lot of houses. Mostly ranching country with oil and gas production. So most of our fires are oilfield fires or wildfires. One generally leads to the other. As a result, most of our training is centered around those two types of fires. And it is training we do with our equipment. The senior members with the experience train the younger members without.
    Look, if that is what works for you fine. My problem is entirely the absolute NONSENSE of volunteers with not even close to any level of certification, or even any serious inhouse training, claiming loudly that they are every bit as good as career firefighters. It simply isn't true and it casts a shadow of doubt on all the hardworking dedicated volunteers that give it all it takes to be that good.
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  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I think it would be more helpful for VFD's if you were allowed to obtain your FFI & II over a longer period of time. Ohio requires a minimum 36 hour course to be a volunteer, but it would be nice if you could get credit for weekly training (on specific topics) to get your FFI & II. I think 18 months for both certs would be reasonable. I certainly think FFI should be a minimum standard after 2 years for a Voluteer.
    In LA, you can challenge any certification test at any time so there is no requirement to take the class. If you pick up the skills and cognitive knowledge during department training or via self-study, that's fine. That way somebody does not have to take a particular class to be certified. They can learn the material through alternative methods and can be certified as long as they can meet the cognitive and manipulative requirements through testing.

    Most of the members on both my volunteer and combination departments have taken and passed FFI and FFII using simply department-level training. We have taught a couple of FFI classes within the past few years, but these are not common due primarily to work schedules and such.

    I completely disagree that certification should be mandatory for volunteers, unless the department has chosen to implement that requirement.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 11-19-2013 at 10:48 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Look, if that is what works for you fine. My problem is entirely the absolute NONSENSE of volunteers with not even close to any level of certification, or even any serious inhouse training, claiming loudly that they are every bit as good as career firefighters. It simply isn't true and it casts a shadow of doubt on all the hardworking dedicated volunteers that give it all it takes to be that good.
    I absolutely agree that members should not be operating without adequate training for the hazards posed by their response areas. And I agree that department-level training should be meet all of the district's needs, planned, scheduled and delivered on a regular basis, and members should be required to meet specified training attendance requirements of at least 75%.

    I have never stated otherwise.

    And I have absolutely no issues with members being required to meet in-house cognitive and manipulative requirements.

    Where we disagree is on the need for certification.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 11-19-2013 at 09:41 AM.
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