Paid/Volunteer 'Job Book' Requirements - Input Please
This evening we had a yearly outlook meeting at the firehouse. This thread isn't here to bash my department or decisions made within, simply for input from others on how you do things.
I've been in the fire service for 3 years, started as soon as I could at 18 with a great well to-do and fortunate department in Manhattan Kansas. Our probationary period there was a minimum 6 month process and included a variety of tasks; operate each apparatus, cone course, fire ground ops, rescue ops, a commercial pre-plan, district mapping, etc. Once this was completed you earned your leather and were good to go. A few things could be tweaked, but overall I felt like I had a good handle and it served me well for my remaining 2.5 years at that department.
I'm fairly new to my newly acquired 'home' in Topeka KS (where I grew up), continuing as a PPC volunteer. We staff the station with full time career members, a minimum of 2 at all times and 3 during business hours; not including our Chief and secretary.
I've completed the requirements for our 'recruit' class, same as probie; and now we've been issued what are called 'job books'. To receive our pagers/radios in the first place we had to memorize all equipment on a quint, pumper, rescue, squad (F550 mini rescue) and two brush trucks; a very valid requirement in my eyes with previous experience knowing where equipment is located is extremely important. Next step is truck checks, we are required to complete three; brush, squad and pumper. This truck check includes the entire truck from operating radio, checking fluids, pumping, driving to addresses, equipment; the whole 9 yards. To be checked off on a specific apparatus you must complete the truck 4 times; 1st time it being explained to you, 2nd time you should know 50/50, 3rd time you explain everything and 4th test on the truck with Chief - then you're blessed to operate and respond in said apparatus, again good requirements.
Tonight job books were distributed to volunteers and career members alike. They consist of 19 pages, of any conceivable action. Donning PPE, pumping, answering the phone; hundreds of requirements. The concept being during a drill you can get numerous items checked off, streamlining training and providing a baseline requirement for training. Some of these items are specialty items such as setting up a heli LZ, hands on vehicle extrication; things of that nature.
You have 1 year to complete these requirements, alongside semi-annual truck checks (not a huge deal on those) or face suspension from the department. Needless to say, this wasn't received so well.
I want to hear what your department does for required continuing education. Do you face repercussions and punishment if not completed? What does it consist of? Can exceptions be made? How detailed do you get? Do your career members have different requirements than volunteers? How do you ultimately keep your members proficient and monitor training activities?
I'm looking for quality helpful input I can pass to my Chief (and fellow members) as he's decided to reevaluate this system, possibly based upon a core/life safety standpoint as minimum requirements. Our end goal as I understand it is to establish a set guideline for training and proficiencies for every member; ultimately how this is established is up in the air. At the end of the day you want to be able to trust the guy/girl standing next to you that they have your back.
I've listed a few of the pros/cons that came from our discussion this evening.
1) Not all members can attend drills where multiple items are checked off due to day jobs and other scheduling conflicts.
2) Training now becomes focused on getting items checked off, not quality training. Scenario based training does not stay consistent with an end goal in mind - but moreover getting minor items checked off.
3) Job book items are to be 'hands on', therefore requiring each member at a drill to pull a cross lay, run spreaders, etc. - eating up an entire drill just for one item so each member can try.
4) Members calling ahead to go work on off days will inundate on-duty officers with paperwork and repetitive training.
5) Only requiring these items to be completed once or twice yearly is not enough repetition to validate such a lengthy program.
6) Though you may not understand or be comfortable doing every item on the list; there are still plenty of tasks to be completed on scene.
1) Members can come to the station and check items off, after calling ahead to on-duty officers.
2) Training will be consistent and members will understand how to operate apparatus.
3) Basic firefighting techniques and safety will be understood by all who complete.
4) All members will have peace of mind that another member understands all operations since the job book is completed.
5) Having a punishment will push those shy members to the front and give them an extra push to attempt training.
6) On scene patrons don't care if we are career or volunteer, we hold the title of 'FireFighter' and it is assumed we can complete the task at hand.
Those are just a few of the points discussed this evening, I've tried to keep this neutral for the sake of constructive criticism and ideas. Thanks for any input!