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Thread: Training Requirments and response

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    Default Training Requirments and response

    Background: I am a 17 year veteran of a volunteer department with 450 calls per year EMS/Fire on stretch of Interstate 80 including rural as well as mutual aid with a career department. For most of my tenure I have been among the top 5-10 on a department of 35 members when it comes to number of responses. I am a certified Paramedic and Firefighter II which is the highest combination ranking our department has ever possessed in one member to date. We currently have one Paramedic other than myself, and I serve as a paid Fire/Rescue member with another entity. I live within 1/2 mile, one minute from the station, and have never had any issues with my membership or other circumstances which would downgrade my ability as a member.
    LAW: By law, structural firefighters are required to have 24 hours of training. This can be Fire/EMS, and may be with any department or State recognized training facility/entity.
    Department Bylaws: For some reason, our department decided to expand that law to require 18 of the 24 hours to be in-house training. The only exception would be to have the Chief or Asst Chief sign off on acceptable outside training.
    When this was adopted, our department had a career firefighter who rarely came to in-house training, but was a huge asset to the department. He resigned his position. Another member became a career firefighter, and subsequently resigned. Last year, I had 88 hours of training between this department, my paid position, and EMS CEHs. My department training was at 20 hours, but the training officer or secretary failed to record one of my sessions which left me at 18 hours. I was within the requirement, but it was not without constant reminder from officers that I would be disallowed from firefighting withou tthe 18 hours. I mentioned my hours with my paid position, and they were not going to be recognized by the Chief. Still, I was required to turn in the additional 6 hours of training. Fast-forward to this year. I have 17 hours in-house, and 45 total training hours with State recognized agencies. Our department Trustees are telling me I must make up the training. I have been given a couple options, but I missed training due to work or my kids activities. The same is true for the remaining time I have to complete "assigned training."
    I do not feel like I am better than anyone else, and I attempt to make as much training as possible. I am a vital member, and participate in training when present. In fact, I mentor several young firefighters, and I am typically repeating training of the same type in a year. However, I grow frustrated by the numerous members that do not participate and still record training hours, or have the training but do not show up to calls. Even worse, some of our training is extremely ineffective and designed to cover topics versus learning. During FF2 class, several members passed the practical exam by having a social conversation with a known instructor as opposed to actually testing on the material. I feel that a single hour could be recognized by our officers.
    If it does not, I am tempted to resign my position as well. I do not believe this standard should be required with members who are training, and aking the effort to train and show up to calls. Our department is not a democratic one, so I hesitate to voice my opinion. However, I wonder if I should voice my opinion and let them carry out the restrictions? Should I voice my opinion and resign? Or, should I resign without voicing my opinion?

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    Sounds like you are part way out the door

    If so, speak up and see what happens

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    Another Volly house about to lose a (career member from another jurisdiction) due to a penis-measuring contest. Gotta love it.

    There are three sides to every story- yours, theirs and the truth. That being said, if what you say is true, sounds to me like you have gone above and beyond making a goof-faith effort to obtain as much of their requisite training as you could have. In lieu of not getting the minimum, you attempted to negotiate some of your career hours into the mix- which is precisely what I had to do when a Volly training officer (who was trying to become a career man but thats another story for another time) got a bug up his sphincter over me.....I was able to obtain all of my training records including narratives of what the training was, what it covered and the hours involved, and plead my case to the Board of Directors of our organization- who cannot govern operations of the Dept but they can forward endorsements. In this case they recommended to the Line Officers that the documented career training (in their opinion) was a "fair compromise in lieu of not making the minimum" given I had a family at home, a second job and not to mention I had to work the career job on many Volly drill nights. They did however carefully point out that my career training was not an acceptable substitute for all of my required Volly training- that SOME was acceptable to make up for what I had missed (due to having a life.)

    I recommend carefully documenting all career training in the last 365 days (who what when how long) and write a cover letter requesting that "in the spirit of compromise this training be considered in lieu of the mandated minimums." And if they refuse, fook em. Sounds like they want you out anyways. You have nothing to lose by trying it.
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    You are not going to like what I say ...

    I work full-time for a combination department and volunteer as well. In addition, I teach for the state training agency and the National Fire Academy.

    Minimum standards are just that ... Minimum Standards. Minimum standards need to be met by all members, including members who work full-time for career agencies. Training is about learning about the procedures and operations of that particular department, as well as building unit cohesion. Unfortunately, the training at your career department, though valuable, likely does not work towards either of these goals. My VFD counts my training at my career department, but still requires that I meet THIER training requirements through attendance at THIER training, and IMO, that's the way it should be. My VFD also has 2 other members (officers) that are career personnel at another department, and they are both required to meet the training requirements of the VFD exclusive of the training at their career gig.

    The fact that you are career elsewhere should have no bearing on meeting the requirements of the department. It's likely all the other members have second jobs, children and other demands on their lives, and likely are pressed to meet the training requirements as well. Just because you are a career firefighter elsewhere, you should not be exempt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    You are not going to like what I say ...

    I work full-time for a combination department and volunteer as well. In addition, I teach for the state training agency and the National Fire Academy.

    Minimum standards are just that ... Minimum Standards. Minimum standards need to be met by all members, including members who work full-time for career agencies. Training is about learning about the procedures and operations of that particular department, as well as building unit cohesion. Unfortunately, the training at your career department, though valuable, likely does not work towards either of these goals. My VFD counts my training at my career department, but still requires that I meet THIER training requirements through attendance at THIER training, and IMO, that's the way it should be. My VFD also has 2 other members (officers) that are career personnel at another department, and they are both required to meet the training requirements of the VFD exclusive of the training at their career gig.

    The fact that you are career elsewhere should have no bearing on meeting the requirements of the department. It's likely all the other members have second jobs, children and other demands on their lives, and likely are pressed to meet the training requirements as well. Just because you are a career firefighter elsewhere, you should not be exempt.


    Agree with all your points

    Op says they have alternatives in place, it does not seem to say you must,,,,

    Department Bylaws: For some reason, our department decided to expand that law to require 18 of the 24 hours to be in-house training. The only exception would be to have the Chief or Asst Chief sign off on acceptable outside training.

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    I've had the chance to volunteer with a couple of different departments in different areas, and the second VFD that I joined had a similar program of "in house" training hours that were required for all members. I wasn't career at this point in my life, but there were a significant number of people at this VFD who were career firefighters in neighboring localities and were directly effected by this new policy.

    The point of the policy was that these members needed to be up-to-speed on the department's equipment, personnel, etc. The downside to the policy is that the training had to be delivered in a formal training environment - if you missed one of the formal training sessions, you were out of luck - you couldn't just make it up the next time you were at the station.

    The other problem is that many of these career guys were very active with the department, especially during the day when personnel were really needed. There were in quarters, running the calls (our station was averaging about 5 calls a day that time [late 1990's]) and providing leadership to the newer members. It's not like they were no-shows, they were truly contributing to the department.

    About 18 months after the adoption of the in-house policy, it was modified to allow those career personnel who had a minimum number of duty hours to not have to meet the formal in-house training requirements. It simply wasn't worth the risk of losing valuable members of the department over a policy like that.

    What you ought to do in this situation really depends on how much the VFD means to you. If you're okay with it, walk away and enjoy the extra free time withy your family. But if being a member there means as much to you as it appears from what you've written, I would attempt to make them why losing you would be a loss for the department, and show them the extended to which you've tried to comply with the requirements. As others have said, you're likely exceeding the overall training hours, but you're just not meeting the in-house hours - there has to be a compromise. If they refuse to listen to compromise, perhaps it's not a department you need to be associated with anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hills191 View Post
    Background: I am a 17 year veteran of a volunteer department with 450 calls per year EMS/Fire on stretch of Interstate 80 including rural as well as mutual aid with a career department. For most of my tenure I have been among the top 5-10 on a department of 35 members when it comes to number of responses. I am a certified Paramedic and Firefighter II which is the highest combination ranking our department has ever possessed in one member to date. We currently have one Paramedic other than myself, and I serve as a paid Fire/Rescue member with another entity. I live within 1/2 mile, one minute from the station, and have never had any issues with my membership or other circumstances which would downgrade my ability as a member.
    LAW: By law, structural firefighters are required to have 24 hours of training. This can be Fire/EMS, and may be with any department or State recognized training facility/entity.
    Department Bylaws: For some reason, our department decided to expand that law to require 18 of the 24 hours to be in-house training. The only exception would be to have the Chief or Asst Chief sign off on acceptable outside training.
    When this was adopted, our department had a career firefighter who rarely came to in-house training, but was a huge asset to the department. He resigned his position. Another member became a career firefighter, and subsequently resigned. Last year, I had 88 hours of training between this department, my paid position, and EMS CEHs. My department training was at 20 hours, but the training officer or secretary failed to record one of my sessions which left me at 18 hours. I was within the requirement, but it was not without constant reminder from officers that I would be disallowed from firefighting withou tthe 18 hours. I mentioned my hours with my paid position, and they were not going to be recognized by the Chief. Still, I was required to turn in the additional 6 hours of training. Fast-forward to this year. I have 17 hours in-house, and 45 total training hours with State recognized agencies. Our department Trustees are telling me I must make up the training. I have been given a couple options, but I missed training due to work or my kids activities. The same is true for the remaining time I have to complete "assigned training."
    I do not feel like I am better than anyone else, and I attempt to make as much training as possible. I am a vital member, and participate in training when present. In fact, I mentor several young firefighters, and I am typically repeating training of the same type in a year. However, I grow frustrated by the numerous members that do not participate and still record training hours, or have the training but do not show up to calls. Even worse, some of our training is extremely ineffective and designed to cover topics versus learning. During FF2 class, several members passed the practical exam by having a social conversation with a known instructor as opposed to actually testing on the material. I feel that a single hour could be recognized by our officers.
    If it does not, I am tempted to resign my position as well. I do not believe this standard should be required with members who are training, and aking the effort to train and show up to calls. Our department is not a democratic one, so I hesitate to voice my opinion. However, I wonder if I should voice my opinion and let them carry out the restrictions? Should I voice my opinion and resign? Or, should I resign without voicing my opinion?
    So 18 hours has to be in house, which is 1.5 hours per month.

    That would be one 2-hour training session. One three hour training session would double what you would need to meet in a month.

    How often does your department train? If they train multiple times in a month (weekly or bi-weekly as examples) is it that difficult for you to make one training night per month? How about proposing the idea of having 1 or 2 day trainings per month for those that may work nights? How about proposing one weekend training per month as a make-up day for those that work M-F?

    At both of my departments, as long as a senior member who is qualified to teach submits a lesson plan, he can lead an unscheduled training at any time and have it count as training. is that an option in your situation?

    Why can't your department allow you to count those mentoring sessions as training? I know in my situation they certainly would and would generate a training report and recordable training hours, for both the student and instructor.

    My point is simple. Training at your career gig may have very little to do with the operations at your VFD, so why should the training apply?
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 06-24-2014 at 01:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Training at your career gig may have very little to do with the operations at your VFD, so why should the training apply?
    How much training is happening at career departments that isn't applicable on the volunteer side?
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    How much training is happening at career departments that isn't applicable on the volunteer side?
    I think the idea is not all departments operate the same, to include equipement.

    Yes like training should be counted, but stuff particular to the volunteer dept should be done at the volunteer dept

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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    I think the idea is not all departments operate the same, to include equipement.

    Yes like training should be counted, but stuff particular to the volunteer dept should be done at the volunteer dept
    I respectfully disagree. I have a number of members who are career in neighboring jurisdictions (including the "big city") who let us know when they joined years ago that they would only run daytime calls and wouldn't be around for business meetings or company training. We were good with that, and two of them actually earned their life membership this year (15 years active service). In spite of only getting their "formal" training at work, they're still reliable contributors to the fire company as well as capable, trained, aggressive firemen on the scene.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    How much training is happening at career departments that isn't applicable on the volunteer side?
    Better chance that career departments are stretching hand lines dry. Not as common in volunteer departments.

    Better chance that career departments have assigned riding positions/tasks. Not as common in volunteer departments where position/task would have to be assigned by an officer on scene.

    There can be a lot of training that would differ depending on the departments. Not saying it's right or wrong, just different.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    My point is simple. Training at your career gig may have very little to do with the operations at your VFD, so why should the training apply?
    I didn't get the training memo about career fires requiring different methods and tactics, can you point me out to something from the IAFF or the NVFC citing this?
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    I would opine that for our "bread and butter," the SFD, the only real difference may have to do with water supply and variable responses (ie, unknown resources depending on time of day, etc).

    On the other hand, an urban department may have to deal with stuff like high rises and industries a rural department isn't likely to see. The only "high rises" in my rural district are silos...
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    So someone could walk in with ten years at LAFD. to Chicago FD and start fighting fire day one with them

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    You're not making a similar comparison.

    There's no doubt that you could take an LAFD member, but them through a 3-4 week introductory school at CFD to learn Chicago's SOP's and "way of doing things" and have them be productive member of the company. Hell, I'd argue you could just have them do OTJ training exclusively and they'd still pick up on things, even though it might take a little longer.

    The discussion here is the relevancy of on-going training for those who have experience. Let's say a member goes to training sessions, both regionally and nationally, every year. He takes strategies and tactics learned and bring them back to his home departments, and then instructs others about how they training can benefit the department as a whole. This is embraced by work, but still "doesn't count" for the VFD for required in-house training?

    If having this "in house" training is so important, why isn't FH.com filled with threads from volunteer fire service leaders advocating it? It's hypocrisy.
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    One of the biggest issues that we face as a small department is knowing what the others can and cannot do and what they do or do not know. It is this personnel familiarization that is vital. Especially if you are talking about 10 minutes before mutual aid gets there.

    As far as the basics and basic tactics, career training and experience is obviously equal to any training a volunteer would get. The amount it is practiced in the real world will be invaluable. But doing so with one group of people where assigned tasks, amount of aid, water supply, and similar factors are known as soon as the alarm is sounded is completely different than in the majority of the volunteer world.

    I would personally disagree with the amount that has to be in house, but the idea that you need to be around the other members of the department and train with them is essential. I also agree that mentoring time, station duty time, and calls should be factored into this as well.

    Maybe a way to approach this would be to ask what the purpose of the in house hours are. If they state something to the effect that the fires you see at your job are different than those they see and your training is completely irrelevant - I would then question staying there. If they state that it has to do with knowing the people in the department, knowing people's capabilities, knowing the department apparatus and SOP's, then I would push to have some way to turn station hours and calls into this required in house time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Better chance that career departments are stretching hand lines dry. Not as common in volunteer departments.

    Better chance that career departments have assigned riding positions/tasks. Not as common in volunteer departments where position/task would have to be assigned by an officer on scene.

    There can be a lot of training that would differ depending on the departments. Not saying it's right or wrong, just different.
    A good example of that is we have several members that work full-time for the largest area city department where water supplies are provided exclusively by hydrants, as compared to the majority of our operations are supplied by tankers and water shuttles, and when we do use LDH, or procedures have some very significant differences compared to the city's.

    They also operate very differently on the fire ground.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntPA View Post
    One of the biggest issues that we face as a small department is knowing what the others can and cannot do and what they do or do not know. It is this personnel familiarization that is vital. Especially if you are talking about 10 minutes before mutual aid gets there.

    Given that around here, most if not all of the VFDs have a wide variation in training and skill level, this is a point that cannot be overlooked. Each member has to be very aware of what a member can and cannot do, and has to be familiar with their capabilities. In an urban career department there is a baseline set of skills taught at the academy which generally can be counted on as being in play.

    As far as the basics and basic tactics, career training and experience is obviously equal to any training a volunteer would get.

    Equal but not necessarily applicable. I'll use rural water operations as an example, but certainly the operation is different is you compare dedicated companies often with assigned riding positions vs., at least here, limited volunteer response often primarily via POV without a structure comparable to the city.

    The amount it is practiced in the real world will be invaluable. But doing so with one group of people where assigned tasks, amount of aid, water supply, and similar factors are known as soon as the alarm is sounded is completely different than in the majority of the volunteer world.

    I would personally disagree with the amount that has to be in house, but the idea that you need to be around the other members of the department and train with them is essential. I also agree that mentoring time, station duty time, and calls should be factored into this as well.

    I disagree. While there needs to be some out of house training, the members of a volunteer department must train together using the departments equipment practicing the departments accepted procedures lead by department instructors. There is simply no substitute. Again, I have no issue with members attending optional out of the house training, but given that in most VFDs there is a limited call volume, the majority of the training must occur in the company or department setting .And that includes members working as career members elsewhere.

    Maybe a way to approach this would be to ask what the purpose of the in house hours are. If they state something to the effect that the fires you see at your job are different than those they see and your training is completely irrelevant - I would then question staying there. If they state that it has to do with knowing the people in the department, knowing people's capabilities, knowing the department apparatus and SOP's, then I would push to have some way to turn station hours and calls into this required in house time.
    The idea that we are exempting career members from the same training requirements as members who do not work as firefighters elsewhere is simply unfair, and sets two standards within the same organization.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    I didn't get the training memo about career fires requiring different methods and tactics, can you point me out to something from the IAFF or the NVFC citing this?
    It's not that the fires REQUIRE different methods and tactics. It's that the departments may HAVE different methods and tactics. Surely you can understand the difference.

    If your post was in jest disregard this response.
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    I think a lot of guys are missing the real point here. Any department has the right, or actually the responsibility, to set training guidelines and operational standards. The vollie department shouldn't have to accept the paid department's training standards any more than the paid department should have to accept the vollie department's standards. The two departments could be very different in staffing, response, tactics, etc.

    If the OP wants to remain a vollie he should play by their rules. Or quit, which it looks like he has decided to do already.
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    My overwhelming issue with this is the OP's department refusing to grant leniency on just a couple of hours. I know, I know - you give one person a break, then you have to give everyone a break.

    One of the things that I like about my VFD is that every member is treated as an individual, and we evaluate their compliance with minimum standards with all of the other facets of being a volunteer including call response, duty hours, and other contributions. Giving the OP the benefit of the doubt in his post, he appears to be a contributing member of the department, but none of that means anything to the leadership because he missed a couple of hours of in-house training?
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    When and how often is training offered?

    18 hours does not seem like a terrible lot of training. I realize there may be some similarities, but staffing and capabilities are probably different, and therefore operations and tactics may be different.

    As far as myself, if my department had the benefit of having career members on the department, I'd prefer to have the career members at every training. The career members may have a significant amount of training and experience in some areas the volunteers do not. If the career members are not at trainings, how is that knowledge and experience passed on to the volunteers, or is it?

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    We put together an OSHA refresher day each year in my department using a variety of speakers. It's open to all departments, and had nearly 90 signed up this past winter.

    I know of one department whose members essentially won't attend because their department requires that at least half of the OSHA hours be in-house.

    On the other hand, we only offer seven of the eight required hours because we feel that one of the two SCBA hours should be done in-house.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    My overwhelming issue with this is the OP's department refusing to grant leniency on just a couple of hours. I know, I know - you give one person a break, then you have to give everyone a break.

    One of the things that I like about my VFD is that every member is treated as an individual, and we evaluate their compliance with minimum standards with all of the other facets of being a volunteer including call response, duty hours, and other contributions. Giving the OP the benefit of the doubt in his post, he appears to be a contributing member of the department, but none of that means anything to the leadership because he missed a couple of hours of in-house training?
    And there lies the problem.

    As you stated, if you give one guy a break, where do you draw the line in the future? Irf you believe in standards, then they have to be maintained. I guess my issue is that while the OP has the opportunity to receive training through his workplace, his career FD, most volunteers do not have that opportunity to swap training received on the career side over to the volunteer side.

    Again, 18 hours of training does not seem like a lot. I asked him a few questions so i could get a sense of how often they train, which may or may not modify my opinion, but he has yet to reply.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    And there lies the problem.

    As you stated, if you give one guy a break, where do you draw the line in the future? Irf you believe in standards, then they have to be maintained. I guess my issue is that while the OP has the opportunity to receive training through his workplace, his career FD, most volunteers do not have that opportunity to swap training received on the career side over to the volunteer side.

    Again, 18 hours of training does not seem like a lot. I asked him a few questions so i could get a sense of how often they train, which may or may not modify my opinion, but he has yet to reply.
    I would agree that you don't make exceptions for minimum standards, except that they have a way to give people a break built into the bylaws (they allow the chief or assistant chief to allow outside training). If the OP was missing all 18 hours, I could understand, but surely at least 1 hour of his work related training is relevant. I also agree that it depends on how often the training is offered. For us, any officer can put together training and get credit for a drill. We do a lot of ad-hoc drills whenever we have enough people together to hold a drill. These are in addition to planned drills/training.

    I'm responsible for much of our required training. I try to offer it several times and a different times so that everybody has a chance to attend. I also allow members to show a certificate or evidence of similar training from work. Most choose to take the training through the department.

    As mentioned above, it depends on the purpose of the training. If it is designed to make sure people show up at the station, then I can understand not allowing outside training, but if it is to make sure people maintain basic skills, those skills can be maintained outside the department. I suspect that it is a little of both.
    hills191 likes this.

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