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Thread: Are we all firefighters or not?

  1. #41
    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    My wife's home town of Fairlie, New Zealand is covered by a volunteer fire brigade. The big town of Timaru to the west is covered by a paid department. Both volunteer and career departments are part of the New Zealand Fire Service which means that all fire departments are part of the same Federal outfit. Everyone is subject to the same rules.
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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    So a guy in one state can take a 36 hour course and be certified in his state as a Firefighter. A guy in another state has to go through FF1 and FF2 before being certified as a Firefighter in that state.

    They are both Firefighters according to their state.

    They meet in a bar and start talking...both proclaim to be Firefighters.

    Are they equals? Should they both be called Firefighters? Is the true problem here the word "Firefighter" and it being too generic a term? For example...."college graduate". Was that a 2 year college, 4 year college, community college, technical college, etc. Are all college graduates equal?


    Firefighter =

    A) someone that fights fires
    B) someone certified to fight fires (what level of cert?)
    C) member of a fire department
    D) someone that rides an ambulance that belongs to a fire department
    E) someone that fights forest fires
    F) ?????


    I agree with there being a minimum certification. In my situation, statewide works. I don't see a National certification working (WVFD above) shows a good example of why.


    Good discussions here guys....
    "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?

  3. #43
    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    Aren't the up coming ISO changes going to make quite a difference?
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Aren't the up coming ISO changes going to make quite a difference?
    What are the changes to the training requirements?

    I went to the ISO website and found an article on upcoming changes, but it makes no mention of changes to the training requirements.

    http://www.isomitigation.com/communi...e-revised.html

    We are not an ISO state, so any changes will not affect us right away, but as a rule, our rating organization will adopt changes to ISO within a year or two.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 11-19-2013 at 11:26 AM.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    LA does NOT represent the bulk of VFD's.
    While my VFD IS above average, there are many like it or close.
    I can honestly say the "vollies" in my old dept. sound a lot more like LAFE's than yours.

    They only showed up to the meetings to hang out and get out of the house for a couple hours. There was rarely if ever any training done. When myself or any of the other career captains would ask them if they were going to go anything fire related they would immediately complain to the BC or DC level that we were harrassing them.
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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.
    OK, but to what extent will that person be participating in calls until that certification is obtained?

    If they are standing on the proverbial "sidelines" during that time period, then take all the time you want. However, if the department intends to use them in all aspects of response to incidents while working towards certification, then I see no reason to extend any time requirements as it's obvious that the department isn't worried about certification compliance.

    I certainly think FFI should be a minimum standard after 2 years for a Voluteer.
    It's entirely possible and reasonable for it to be obtained within one year.

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    Another big factor where I volunteer is the "its never gonna happen to us" mindset. We mutual aid out as the fast truck maybe one to three times a month but rarely (maybe 1-3 times a year if even) do we have a first due fire.

    Is a situation likely to occur that I need to put a roof rope into operation? No probably not. But does that mean we shouldn't be well versed in the evolution should the situation present itself?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    OK, but to what extent will that person be participating in calls until that certification is obtained?

    If they are standing on the proverbial "sidelines" during that time period, then take all the time you want. However, if the department intends to use them in all aspects of response to incidents while working towards certification, then I see no reason to extend any time requirements as it's obvious that the department isn't worried about certification compliance.

    So they have to go through 130 hours of training (see below) before they can participate? Reasonable? No.

    It's entirely possible and reasonable for it to be obtained within one year.
    So let's talk numbers .....

    Awareness- 12 Hours. Operations-24 Hours. FFI - At least 90 Hours. CPR - 8 Hours. Basic First Aid (As required by FFI) - 24 Hours. ICS 700/800/100/200 - 6-8 Hours. Department level training - ????

    Reasonable? No.

    My previous VFD covered the basics quite well in less than 60 hours, including CPR and ICS and allowed new members to operate quite safely under supervision on the fireground. Reasonable? Yes.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    Another big factor where I volunteer is the "its never gonna happen to us" mindset. We mutual aid out as the fast truck maybe one to three times a month but rarely (maybe 1-3 times a year if even) do we have a first due fire.

    Is a situation likely to occur that I need to put a roof rope into operation? No probably not. But does that mean we shouldn't be well versed in the evolution should the situation present itself?
    So what do you not train for?

    At what point is it reasonable to say that we don not need that skill?

    The bottom line is that volunteers have a finite amount of time to train, and that time is for more finite than career members.

    Mutual aid response is most areas is quite predictable, and the skill set required for that mutual aid is also predictable. To sit here and "what if" for any and all possibilities will develop a list of "what if skills' that are simply unreasonable and unobtainable for volunteer members.

    Again, I believe in fully training all volunteer members for the typical skills they will perform, and encouraging those members that have the dedication and time to pursue advanced skills to pursue those skills. But the reality is that most volunteers only have the time to obtain and develop those everyday bread and butter skills, and to expect them to be able to train for every mutual aid scenario is simply unreasonable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    So let's talk numbers .....

    Awareness- 12 Hours. Operations-24 Hours. FFI - At least 90 Hours. CPR - 8 Hours. Basic First Aid (As required by FFI) - 24 Hours. ICS 700/800/100/200 - 6-8 Hours. Department level training - ????

    Reasonable? No.

    My previous VFD covered the basics quite well in less than 60 hours, including CPR and ICS and allowed new members to operate quite safely under supervision on the fireground. Reasonable? Yes.
    The basics are great and a necessity. But is that enough a year later? Will you retain everything enough and be well versed in various techniques to the extent that if something should occur you know how to react swiftly or will you need to stop and stare into space while you figure it out?

    Another example from my region is being qualified as chauffeur. Its a one time deal learning experience with no continuity of practice or education after that. We say good job you know what to do and on your way. If we get a new rig, sure you have to review it but otherwise your word of mouth certification holds for the duration of your membership. You could avoid driving that rig for the next 10 years and suddenly your the ECC at a first due job and have no clue how to get water to the men. I've never seen anyone I volunteer with say to a more informed member "can we take the engine out and review today?" But I certainly have seen multiple members not know what to do at a fire and keep us waiting for water or foam.

    I often ponder what the legal ramifications would be if members inside got hurt because the ECC failed to fulfill his role properly. His being allowed to drive is solely word of mouth based on the senior man above him. They are held to no legitimate standard.

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    So what do you not train for?

    At what point is it reasonable to say that we don not need that skill?

    The bottom line is that volunteers have a finite amount of time to train, and that time is for more finite than career members.

    Mutual aid response is most areas is quite predictable, and the skill set required for that mutual aid is also predictable. To sit here and "what if" for any and all possibilities will develop a list of "what if skills' that are simply unreasonable and unobtainable for volunteer members.

    Again, I believe in fully training all volunteer members for the typical skills they will perform, and encouraging those members that have the dedication and time to pursue advanced skills to pursue those skills. But the reality is that most volunteers only have the time to obtain and develop those everyday bread and butter skills, and to expect them to be able to train for every mutual aid scenario is simply unreasonable.
    And im not disagreeing with you that volunteers have a finite amount of time. But where can you reasonably draw the line to say its acceptable? Are career firefighters trained too much? Is such a thing possible? Certainly not. So the only reasonable conclusion is volunteers are not trained enough but a line must be drawn in the sand somewhere. I feel that line is currently cut far too short and if people can't make it, they need to move on to the auxiliary police.

    I am not saying you need to train guys for when a volcano spontaneously erupts in the middle of the town but what do we do when an oddball scenario presents itself and no one on scene has a clue what to do? Who do we call? We already are the first responders and the cavalry is more than likely to be trained to the same degree.

    When serious emergencies occur, be it few and far between, lives often hang in the balance. Both civilian and first responder lives. When one is lost, do you want to hear someone say "well we are just volunteers, we did our best."

    Even when half these guys do decide to show up for a training, most of them use it as a social hour while the same few guys legitimately participate. But even the top of the food chain lets it go on because they participate in that same social gathering.
    Last edited by BrooklynBravest; 11-19-2013 at 11:49 AM.

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynBravest View Post
    The basics are great and a necessity. But is that enough a year later? Will you retain everything enough and be well versed in various techniques to the extent that if something should occur you know how to react swiftly or will you need to stop and stare into space while you figure it out?

    Members were expected to attend training to practice existing skills and learn new skills. In fact, there was a 75% attendance requirement which was ENFORCED.

    We were also busy enough that the basic skills were used quite frequently in real world situations.


    Another example from my region is being qualified as chauffeur. Its a one time deal learning experience with no continuity of practice or education after that. We say good job you know what to do and on your way. If we get a new rig, sure you have to review it but otherwise your word of mouth certification holds for the duration of your membership. You could avoid driving that rig for the next 10 years and suddenly your the ECC at a first due job and have no clue how to get water to the men. I've never seen anyone I volunteer with say to a more informed member "can we take the engine out and review today?" But I certainly have seen multiple members not know what to do at a fire and keep us waiting for water or foam.

    I don't disagree at all. Department level recertification needs to be a part of every training process.

    I often ponder what the legal ramifications would be if members inside got hurt because the ECC failed to fulfill his role properly. His being allowed to drive is solely word of mouth based on the senior man above him. They are held to no legitimate standard.
    Probably the department would be liable, especially in a civil suit, if they could not prove that there was a process in place to certify and re-certify skills on a on-going basis.
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  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Here and there View Post
    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.
    I agree that improving the availability and delivery of training is the proper way to go rather than reducing required training.

    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.
    I'm not sure I'm following this point.

    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. Not necessarily. Ladders are not that complex and an additional 4 hours of instruction isn't going to provide anything more that couldn't be covered in the existing time allotted. What the student likely needs more of is practice actually throwing the ladders. Something that can easily be provided by their own department (think of it as homework). 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. I wouldn't call it "completely unnecessary" even if a department doesn't provide direct extrication services. In my state, vehicle extrication is a standalone certification. 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. There are aspects of wildland firefighting that can be applicable outside of typical wildland areas. Even an urban FD like FDNY operates brush fire units.
    The problem with that program IMO, is your (and likely others) expectation of it. It's basic entry level training and the expectation should not be one of the person being "combat ready" upon completion of the course.

    After completion of the initial training course, it is the person's fire department's responsibility to begin teaching them the more in depth knowledge needed in the areas of need for that department. Additionally, that person should be mentored by a senior member around the station and not be allowed to operate without direct supervision of a line officer or senior member on calls until they've gained the experience and training to be able to work unsupervised.

    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?
    I can't speak for most states, but that isn't the case in mine. Ours is based largely on the volunteer side of things.

    Some states don't even make that much effort leaving it to the individual department to decide when somebody is trained enough.
    That's pretty much the case in my state since there's absolutely no mandatory minimum standard for firefighter training.

  14. #54
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    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%.

    We actually disagree on this too. You believe it is adequate and proper to have 2 tiers of volunteer, interior and exterior. I adamantly oppose that and will NEVER support that 2 tiered idea.

    I have never stated otherwise.

    And again, with no external motivation there will always be VFDs that have their idea of a training night being sitting around the meeting room playing cards and drinking beer. I believe that fire departments, and firefighters, need to be held to an external minimum standard to force those that don't have the internal motivation, or leadership with enough stones to actually lead, to train their firefighters properly.

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

    And I have no problem with either the state, or federal government, tying funding and grants to meeting a minimum training standard established by the funding agency.

    Where we disagree is on the need for certification.

    No, not really. Where we disagree is allowing VFDs, many with horrible track records for training, to set the standards for minimum levels of training.
    We do disagree and I believe we always will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Is the true problem here the word "Firefighter" and it being too generic a term?
    I don't think it's a matter of the term being too generic, but rather it's used too liberally.

    On the PD side, a police officer is still a police officer even if they are a detective, SWAT member, etc.

    On the EMS side, there are clear (and somewhat uniform) delineations between providers regarding training and skill sets - CFR, EMT, EMT-I, Paramedic, RN, MD.

    This carries over into the organizational level as a PD is a PD and EMS agencies are categorized as BLS, limited ALS, full ALS & CC, each with clearly defined requirements to operate at that level.

    The fire service really doesn't have that. We apply the term "fire department" to any organization that has fire trucks and goes to fire calls regardless of what they can actually provide for services. We pretty much apply the term "firefighter" to any member of that organization.

    I don't know if additional terms would actually help anything as I suspect the new terms would largely exacerbate what I see as an "inferiority complex" on the volunteer side driving the "we're all the same" argument. The VFDs that have their act together don't seem to be the ones banging that drum the loudest.

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    It's entirely possible and reasonable for it to be obtained within one year.
    That assumes that the course is available for the firefighter to take, and that he (or she) will be available to complete the course. Usually that's not a problem, but work does take precendence, and not all employers are willing to be flexible enough for that to happen.

    Fortunately, most folks are able to do so, and the one year requirement is in our bylaws. Still, there are times. And they are allowed to take "Scene Support," which gets them the orientation and safety training they need to be on the fireground, if not inside putting out fire.

    And that's where the concept of using unemployment might come into play - if a firefighter can take two weeks off, with some sort of pay (unemployment) to attend the academy, why not?

    As for having two levels of certification - this is where older members factor in. Beyond a certain age, most would agree that Ol' Joe shouldn't be in a pack doing initial fire attack. But he's a wizard with the engine, and since he's retired, he's available most of the time. Do we thank him for his service and bid him farewell, while multiple pages go out for a pump operator?

    In a small, rural department, we can't throw away perfectly good resources.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    That assumes that the course is available for the firefighter to take, and that he (or she) will be available to complete the course. Usually that's not a problem, but work does take precendence, and not all employers are willing to be flexible enough for that to happen.

    In this area LSU FFI classes are few and far between, simply because of the fact that the regional programs are really designed to teach 3-hour classes, or in some cases Haz-mat Operations and Awareness.

    Does LSU teach FFI now and then? Sure. But it's usually for a bigger department or more highly populated region that can get 20 folks who usually have a very short drive.

    You almost never see an LSU class in a rural area where they would have to draw from many departments 30-45 minutes (or more) because they can't get the numbers to make the classes viable.

    And most of these departments simply do not have any or enough certified instructors to teach the classes.


    Fortunately, most folks are able to do so, and the one year requirement is in our bylaws. Still, there are times. And they are allowed to take "Scene Support," which gets them the orientation and safety training they need to be on the fireground, if not inside putting out fire.

    No training requirements in LA so requiring a class for them to operate is not an issue.

    And that's where the concept of using unemployment might come into play - if a firefighter can take two weeks off, with some sort of pay (unemployment) to attend the academy, why not?

    Assuming his employer could go without him/her for 2 weeks.

    The problem is in LA the Academy offered by the state is 9 weeks, and they are the only ones that offer such a program.


    As for having two levels of certification - this is where older members factor in. Beyond a certain age, most would agree that Ol' Joe shouldn't be in a pack doing initial fire attack. But he's a wizard with the engine, and since he's retired, he's available most of the time. Do we thank him for his service and bid him farewell, while multiple pages go out for a pump operator?

    In a small, rural department, we can't throw away perfectly good resources.
    The idea that we wouldn't operate with interior and exterior certification is just assine. The simple fact is that very few rural VFDs in this part of the state could throw together an all-interior crew.

    Operating without exterior members would be the death knell for probably 60-75% of the rural VFDs in the state.
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  18. #58
    Forum Member HuntPA's Avatar
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    My opinions:

    There should be certifications for every job function we perform.
    Water supply, ground ladders, ventilation, exposure protection, interior firefighting, auto extrication, etc.

    As a new person in the department, they should have the opportunity to attend emergency scenes as an observer directly under the supervision of an officer (if the officer is willing on that particular call to take on the responsibility). Nothing worse than having a person sit through >140 hours of training, go to the first real call and find out they just can't take the confusion and chaos of a non-scripted scene.

    If you want to perform a function on the scene, you must be certified, or directly under the supervision of a crew that can perform the task without you. We all know there instances where the impetus is not as great where the new guy can do it without endangering others - just be ready to take over if necessary.

    These certification levels need to be national. All states do is add there own little requirements so that the academy can afford to keep more people on staff and justify more positions.

    Again, these certifications need to be specific enough that a volunteer with a family can get them in little chunks (8-24 hours at a time) until they have reached a level where they are a fully capable member. This gives the volunteer the chance to balance family, job, and passion.

    All certification should be done as certification, not as the PA way where if you show up and have a pulse to a majority of the class, you get a certificate. You must demonstrate knowledge before you get that certification.

    Our reality is that some people do not want to go inside, can't wear a pack, are claustrophobic, or for other reasons don't want to go in. I still want them to have a certification showing that they can set up a water supply, place ladders, etc. Both for my sake in knowing they can, but also to recognize their efforts that they are willing to train and do what they can.

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    Forum Member scfire86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    So let's talk numbers .....

    Awareness- 12 Hours. Operations-24 Hours. FFI - At least 90 Hours. CPR - 8 Hours. Basic First Aid (As required by FFI) - 24 Hours. ICS 700/800/100/200 - 6-8 Hours. Department level training - ????

    Reasonable? No.

    My previous VFD covered the basics quite well in less than 60 hours, including CPR and ICS and allowed new members to operate quite safely under supervision on the fireground. Reasonable? Yes.


    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    So what do you not train for?

    At what point is it reasonable to say that we don not need that skill?

    The bottom line is that volunteers have a finite amount of time to train, and that time is for more finite than career members.

    Mutual aid response is most areas is quite predictable, and the skill set required for that mutual aid is also predictable. To sit here and "what if" for any and all possibilities will develop a list of "what if skills' that are simply unreasonable and unobtainable for volunteer members.

    Again, I believe in fully training all volunteer members for the typical skills they will perform, and encouraging those members that have the dedication and time to pursue advanced skills to pursue those skills. But the reality is that most volunteers only have the time to obtain and develop those everyday bread and butter skills, and to expect them to be able to train for every mutual aid scenario is simply unreasonable.


    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Probably the department would be liable, especially in a civil suit, if they could not prove that there was a process in place to certify and re-certify skills on a on-going basis.


    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    The idea that we wouldn't operate with interior and exterior certification is just assine. The simple fact is that very few rural VFDs in this part of the state could throw together an all-interior crew.

    Operating without exterior members would be the death knell for probably 60-75% of the rural VFDs in the state.
    As to be expected. LAFE pulls out the excuse book to justify the pathetic operation he wants everyone to believe is a firefighting organziation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    As to be expected. LAFE pulls out the excuse book to justify the pathetic operation he wants everyone to believe is a firefighting organziation.
    And as to be expected, SC pulls out his moron card to prove that he is still a moron.

    And as I have said before .. When you state that career members should attend the academy and all other required training without compensation, I'll state that volunteers should have the same training as career members.

    It's all about a level playing field.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 11-19-2013 at 02:31 PM.
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