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  1. #1
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    Default Participating Department - NFPA 1001 Certification

    May I ask what are the benefits derived from having members certified to the Firefighter I or II levels aside from the gained knowledge and professional recognition?

    I run with a volunteer fire company in Chester County - in the southeastern area of PA. Please let me know if this has been recently discussed in past issues of PA Fireman Magazine.

    I am attempting to help my volunteer firefighters to obtain NFPA 1001 certification and wanted to know if anyone knows what will be the benefit in the future in terms of priority in grant applications, VFAP Reduced Interest Loans for apparatus, etc.


  2. #2
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    If you get a certain percentage of your active members certified, you get a cool decal for your fire trucks, that look good at parades.

    Ok now that I got the sarcasm out of the way.

    I did see an article in PAfireman a few months ago outlining it.

    I've got some issues with the whole idea. I think it's great to have firefighters skills tested. However, what does this mean?

    Suppose you have a new firefighter that takes the essentials followed by the FF1 and FF2 and someone that has years of experience and has been taking every available local-level course. Which is better educated.

    I am also have heard rumors that the state's new grant program is going to be incentive-based.

    and guess what one of the incentives will be???? Yes, you guessed it certification.

    If you ask me volunteers really don't need more things to do.

  3. #3
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    Originally posted by Firegrafix
    I've got some issues with the whole idea. I think it's great to have firefighters skills tested. However, what does this mean?

    Suppose you have a new firefighter that takes the essentials followed by the FF1 and FF2 and someone that has years of experience and has been taking every available local-level course. Which is better educated.
    This is a really, really tired, old argument, and it doesn't even make any sense. The value of minimum certification requirements or programs is the ability to ensure that everyone on the fireground has some minimum level of training and proficiency in core skills. The presence of certification requirements doesn't in any way imply that training is a substitute for experience, it simply guarantees that everyone starts with a grounding in the fundamentals before they get their experience. To argue that the presence of skilled, experience people who didn't go through certification invalidates the idea of needing certification requirements to ensure the competence and safety of future generations is a little like saying something such as "back in the ol' days, we didn't have them fancy air-packs and we toughed it out, so we don't need none of them new-fangled SCBA-thingys now, neither", or some other such complete nonsense. It's just a convenient excuse for the dinosaurs among us who deeply fear change in general, and especially any movement to truly professionalize the volunteer fire service, to try to maintain the status quo. In the end, it comes down to this: If your "someone that has years of experience and has been taking every available local-level course" is so damn good, then he or she should be able to pass the FF1 & FF2 tests without breaking a sweat, not?? So, what's the problem with having to take the test??


    Originally posted by Firegrafix
    If you ask me volunteers really don't need more things to do.
    You're right, they don't. But what they DON'T need to be doing are things like wasting time and effort begging for money (they should be fully funded by the taxpayers and the taxpayers should smile when they write those checks) or running around tracking down things like trees-on-roadways calls (that's what municipal road crews are for), etc. What they SHOULD be doing are things like getting the best possible training to be the most effective firefighting force they can be.


    To paraphrase something that the Chief of one of our mutual aid companies (who, as you might guess, is also a state instructor) said a few months back...the more that the fire service in PA fights minimum standards, the better the idea of the state imposing minimum standards on the fire service becomes. When you look around PA, you see a lot of really good fire companies in various places, with personnel who take their professional obligations seriously and work to be the best they can be. But, in other places, you also see some really scary crap going on and, when you listen to all the lame excuses and bizarre rationalizations that are thrown around by these fire companies when things go wrong, you can only come to the conclusion that there are still many individuals and fire companies out there who can't be trusted to take their responsibilities seriously, properly train their people, plan for incidents, etc., etc. In the interest of public safety, somebody needs to impose professionalism on them, or, failing that, they simply need to be pushed out of service for good.

    That's my $0.02, like it or not.

  4. #4
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    Well Bob,

    Glad to see you are an up and coming expert in the volunteer fire service and your argument is just as tired. I am 36 years old with 18 years as a volunteer and 14 as a career firefighter, Fire officer II certified and hardly a dinosaur.

    So that said, I'm not looking to protect my status-quo.

    You probably got one of those cool stickers on the rig that you "engineer" and go to bed every night wishing you were a "paid guy"

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    Last edited by Firegrafix; 07-22-2003 at 08:04 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Participating Department - NFPA 1001 Certification

    Originally posted by Deputy17k
    May I ask what are the benefits derived from having members certified to the Firefighter I or II levels aside from the gained knowledge and professional recognition?
    I get to go NA NA NA NA We're the First. I run with the department that was the first and at that time the ONLY fire department in the state to have the gold award from the state. I think it was 75% or poss 90% of membership certified
    .

    We just had a new member go thru the FFI certification He just was kicked out of fire chiefs position in Allentown (mayor said retire or be demoted I want some one new)he had like 30 years on the job as a paid fire fighter and went thru the FFI certification because it is kinda required at my department.

    I am certified as an evaluator for the testing and you would not believe what I have seen people cutting into their own boots with the chain saw. There are alot of people in the state that SHOULD NOT be wearing a pager let alone a SCBA. The FF certification program is one way to sort them out. It is required for all new firefighters in Allentown to pass the FFI test as part of recruit training.
    Last edited by choad33; 08-02-2003 at 06:50 PM.

  6. #6
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    If you require that everyone train to a COMMON standard, then you, over time, develop a fire fighting force that uses COMMON methods to handle similiar situations. By doing that you develop predictability in your response which helps create a more safe enviornment on the fireground for everyone.

    Training to a common standard (IFSTA)helps you develop realistic expectations about how someone will respond in a given situation. That helps planners and operational commanders with their decision making process. It also helps you to give task oriented orders without a lot of additional direction, which saves time on the fireground.

    All the patches, and stickers aside, the program lets your command structure have confidence that their responders know how to handle themselves when given task oriented orders. That confidence comes from knowing that the responders have DEMONSTRATED their competence to an unbiased evaluator. Over time, you get predictibilty in response and reduce the likelihood that someone will get hurt since everyone is behaving in a predictable manner consistent with professional standards.

    The cert program lets you take someone and accelerate their learning curve on fire operations. If you relied soley upon "on the job" training, you always run the risk your people with have dangerous gaps in their knowledge. For example, if you only learn by doing, then what do you know about something you never did?

    Take the cert program and combine it with real world expierence and I think you end up with a better trained, more predictable and safer fire fighting force.

    There are other benefits to the program, but I think these are the most important.
    If you can keep your head about you, while those around you are losing theirs, then you will be a man my son.

    Rudyard Kipling.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by Firegrafix
    Well Bob,

    Glad to see you are an up and coming expert in the volunteer fire service and your argument is just as tired. I am 36 years old with 18 years as a volunteer and 14 as a career firefighter, Fire officer II certified and hardly a dinosaur.

    So that said, I'm not looking to protect my status-quo.

    Well, congratulations...you've been around about as long as I have and you've "out-certified" me. That makes this even more confusing...if you see no value in encouraging people to pursue standardized training and certifications, then why did you pursue them yourself? Were you forced to by your job, do you just want them so that you can say that you have them, or what? If you're not looking to protect the status quo, what possible agenda could you have for not wanting to encourage certification programs? I could see it if you were arguing that the "carrot" of recognition should be replaced buy a "stick" like mandatory certification...but you seem to have no plan at all. It makes me wonder if the root of the problem is that you like being one of the few at your certification level just a little too much. Hmmm...

    Originally posted by Firegrafix
    You probably got one of those cool stickers on the rig that you "engineer" and go to bed every night wishing you were a "paid guy"
    Wrong, and wrong again...

    First, we don't need incentive programs from the state to get our personnel to take training seriously. We might pursue the "cool stickers" at some point for political reasons, but that's a whole other issue that's not relevant here. Even so, this doesn't make the program a bad idea statewide.

    Second, I sleep well, at least until my pager goes off. I'm also happy to be the one to let you and your ego in on this little secret: There are many of us out here in volly-world who have never been interested in being "paid guys" and don't have any incentive to be "paid guys". I'm not against "paid guys", mind you. I have many friends and acquaintances who are "paid guys", and I respect them for what they do and why they do it, just like they respect me for choosing to do something else for the reasons I do. But, on a purely capitalist level...when I can work on lots of cool projects as a researcher and consultant in the private sector and make serious bucks doing it (well beyond what I would in any local public service role, whether it be fire fighter, municipal manager, county commissioner, or whatever), and then turn around on nights and weekends and go out and fight fire too, why would I want to be a "paid guy"? I can have my cake, eat it, and go back for seconds, and never think about apologizing for it. America...what a country!!

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