1. #1
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    Post Iowa training Proposal...

    I wanted to get everyone's opinion on an issue coming up in Iowa soon. The Iowa Department of Public Safety is proposing to update Iowa Code to require minimum training standards for firefighters involved in "structural" firefighting. This "minimum training" will require training to the level of FFI by July 1, 2006. In addition, each member must complete 24 hours of ongoing training annually. I should note here, that you do not need to be certified FFI, just have the training and ongoing training.

    I don't have a problem with the first part. I think FFI is a great starting point. I don't like the 24 hours per year, though. It sounds a lot like they are trying to pad the class roster for the State Fire School. The other problem I have with it, is that that is more hours per year than I need for my EMT, and almost as many as a Paramedic needs. That sounds excessive to me. If I have to put in just under 20 hours per year now as an EMT, and more when I go Paramedic, plus another 24 hours per year for fire, that is asking a lot of me as a volunteer. We already have a hard time getting people to join and actually show up. They cite a lack of time. I know what they mean.

    I do agree with ongoing training. I wouldn't even care if it required going to one fire school per year. But, the way this sounds, I would have to go to 2 to get my hours in. I know I can't afford it, and don't think my department can, either. I am a big supporter of training, but don't like unfunded mandates. I also don't like things that make government bigger.

    I guess what torques me off the most about this, is that the idea floated up a couple of years ago. I went to a meeting, jumped a bigwig state person about it, and was pooh-poohed. I was then collared by a person in the Fire Marshall's office, and was told it was just an idea, and nothing would come of it. He lied. They couldn't get us to buy it the first time, so now they are trying to backdoor it. Now, they have the insurance companies backing it, so it will happen, one way or the other.

    I know other departments require this training and more of their members. I know that 24 hours is just 2 hours per month, or 3 full days. I just don't trust them on the training standards. I fear they will throw in issues that require attendance to a fire school to meet them. That will cost money upfront, and if I need to take time off of work, cost me more money.
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    One two hour drill per month doesn't sound like alot to ask. Anything less and I would question how you could maintain proficiency at the FFI level.

  3. #3
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    In Maryland, we already have tougher standards. Sort of. There is no STATE Standard, Each County does it their way, but all (as far as I know) require some form of training for specific jobs. Our EMT is 132 hours to start, then a 24 hr ReCert every 3rd year after. AED and CPR are covered in a 3hr class annually, as is Infection Control. Then we go to Fire Stuff. A 36 hr course is required to get a set of gear and be able to ride along as an extra person and assist with OUTSIDE work. Outside as in a non-IDLH atmosphere. Then it's on to FF I and FF II, You can go on through FO I-IV and FSI I-IV if you wish. Fire Officer and Fire Service Instructor Courses are required for those holding Officers positions. There's EVOC, Pumps, Aerial Ops, Rural Water Supply, and others, for Drivers. Also available are a ton of Rescue and HazMat Courses as well. EVERYTHING is indexed to NFPA Standards, and is Certified by the National Pro Board and IFSTA. We take training very seriously here, and it shows. I currently hold NBFSPQ Certificates as a FO IV, FSI III, HazMat Tech, among others. My Training file goes back to 1960 and shows a current total of 2320 hours of formal training. The average member at our Dept has around 400 hours, and for most, it is ongoing. Now, here's the kicker. IT WAS ALL FREE. I have never paid a penny to take a Training Course. NEVER! ALL TRAINING IN MARYLAND IS FREE. We have a State Training Agency, The Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, which is part of the University of Maryland. They are funded as part of the Education system of the state. And, in my opinion, that's the way it should be. No Fire/Rescue person should ever have to pay for training. Ever. And, this training is provided locally. 7 regional Training Centers around the state can handle anything that needs to be done, no need to go to the University campus. In fact, most training is brought to a Fire station to eliminate travel time for the students. The vast majority of Training is held on weekday evenings, with some weekend classes so that Volunteers are accomodated as well as possible. All training schedules are online, so anyone can look up what they want, and register. If you want a "Customer Friendly" system, this is it.
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  4. #4
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    It's a concern...that could be addressed by verbiage along the lines of "24 hours per year of training conducted by the local fire department or the agency of their choosing covering basic firefighting skills"

    EMS skills are primarily individual. It's also fairly standardized -- I could be teamed with any other EMT in the nation and within a few seconds coordinate putting on a hair traction splint even in a stressful situation.

    Firefighting stuff, as much as refreshing you on skills, is also about team building and learning the personalities of those you're working along side of. Team me up with someone from outside of my department you've first got to agree on the tactics, then you've got to perform them in an environment thats stressful, but with the added challenges of low visibility, heightened personal danger, possibility a screw-up hurts you (not the patient), having to coordinate multiple activities (search, hose, vent), where communication is crappy and often is just a slap on the back and point -- etc. As much as anything, you want to know how your co-workers perform. More training with your local FD guys than it takes to refresh an EMT card ain't that unreasonable.
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    I don't look at this issue in terms of the NUMBER of hours of training, but the QUALITY of the training. I have been to one day training classes that, because the instructor was better suited to make balloon animals, the day was less than productive.
    But let's look at this:
    24 hours a year? The the number of hours in ONE DAY! To keep your life saving skills sharp, to stay in the game; 2 hours a month is a problem?
    Think of all the time that is WASTED in our lives; in traffic, in front of the TV, at the bar, on the golf course, etc., etc. and I don't think 24 hours a year is enough. I think it is embarrassing.
    Here is a little something I did a while back. Read it and then respond:
    Reprinted by permission:
    So, You Donít Have the Time?
    by Art Goodrich

    Many of you know that I draw from my experiences and training as a member of a volunteer fire department. That is especially true when dealing with the problems and the issues that face the small, rural volunteer organizations that are indicative of the majority of our nationís fire departments.
    I have no difficulties in exchanging thoughts and ideas with career firefighters and am quite comfortable when around them. I must admit that I love to sit and listen to the career men and women relate their experiences because many will answer more calls in a 30 day period than a lot of volunteer departments will answer in a year! It is not my intentions here to start a vollie/career debate; but to merely point out that, though our core values and goals are the same, our problems are distinctly different. Two that come to mind are recruitment and retention. That is what we will explore from the volunteer perspective.
    Not long ago, we discovered in our department that there seemed to be a core group of officers and veterans that gave a disproportionately larger number of hours-i.e. effort to the department than the others. I felt that it was important to send a strong message to the others in order to strengthen their commitment. So, what I did was; at a monthly meeting, I pulled out all of the officers and anyone with more than ten years on the department and asked them to leave the room. That left thirteen in the room. What I asked them next was; if this was your core group, who would be your officers? I had them ďelectĒ a chief, assistant chief, captains and lieutenants. It produced some very interesting results. Ironically, the ďchiefĒ that they elected is now a lieutenant with the department. It would not surprise to see him as chief somewhere down the road.
    So, we had their attention on the issue of not relying on the fact that the veterans and officers as they knew them would always be around. They had to start preparing NOW for the future of the fire department. Then, I had to tackle the issue of the ďperceivedĒ constraints on everyoneís time. It is not a problem that is ours alone but is one that is shared throughout the nation. It can destroy departments and hereís why:
    For the past several years, volunteer fire departments have been hit with an almost apathetic attitude in their communities when it comes to recruiting and retaining new firefighters. I donít have the time has become the mantra of young, able-bodied men and women who, when approached by their fire department will tell them in short order that they donít have the time. If they do join the department, they will only give you what time they feel is left over from their very hectic schedule and life style. I believe that selfish has replaced selfless in todayís society.
    Not long ago, my fire department had a few members who were well below the average for training hours, stating that they didnít have the time. I decided to take a pragmatic look at it, for I have always held that if it is important to you, you will make time. I also wanted to make certain that I wasnít being overly critical of our younger members.
    In a calendar year, there are (8,760) hours. From that, I will subtract as many time-consuming activities that come to mind on a daily basis during the year. Here goes.
    Most of us will work (2080) hours at our regular jobs in a yearís time. I will credit everyone with (80) hours a year in vacation time. I will even give you another (40) hours a year for sick time. If you work for my company, you get (9) paid holidays a year for another (72) hours. We have to sleep, donít we? Of course we do, so you all get (8) hours a night for a total of (2920) hours a year. Hey, we have to eat sometime. Most of us go through the drive-up for breakfast, but I will still give you a (1/2) hour for breakfast, a (1/2) hour for lunch and (1) hour for dinner everyday for the entire year. That adds up to another (730) hours. You get a night out every week to go to pool league, bowling, darts, canasta; whatever personal recreation you enjoy. You get (5) hours for it-remember, you have work tomorrow-and thatís (260) hours just for you! Church activities earn you another (208) hours. School activities twice a week will total (260) hours a year. Time with your spouse-thatís quality time-is good for (10) hours a week for (520) a year. Keep in mind that this time is for the two of you together, in the same place at the same time with no one else around. No; bedtime is not in these hours. Single folks get more recreation time, if they choose. What are we up to so far? Donít tell me. You probably belong to another organization such as Lions, Shriners, Masons, school board, village board, church board and that is another (3) hour meeting each week for a total of (156) hours. Now, letís see what we have for a total. (7326) hours! According to my math, that leaves (1434) hours. Under my plan, youíll get an outdoor activity each week for a yearly total of (416) hours. Do relatives ďdropĒ in once in a while? Iíll assume every other week for a total (104) hours yearly. Youíre probably taking classes one night a week for (4) hours, so that figures out to (208) hours a year. Have I missed anything? Probably, but I have left some flex in this scenario and have been more than liberal out of fairness. The total hours stand at (8054), leaving (706) hours for other activities. What about the fire department? If yours is like mine, you want (100) hours a year out of your members. That includes training and fundraising. You are left with (606) hours to do with as you would like!
    Still believe that you donít have time for the fire department? Granted, fire calls will come at all hours of the day or night and will undoubtedly interrupt some of your other ďscheduledĒ activities, but you have that (606)-hour cushion that you can tap into.
    Just think about all of the time that we waste on gratuitous activities; on activities that add nothing to our communitiesí quality of life. For (100) hours a year, you get immeasurable satisfaction in learning skills that will help you to help others. I donít see a down side! And besides; has TV really been that good lately?
    You can join the millions of couch potatoes in this country or you can join a dedicated group of public servants who can make a difference when the call for help comes in.
    Iíll tape it and watch when I have the time. Right now, I need to go to the fire station for a training session. Itíll take some time, but according to my math, I have plenty of it! Whatís your excuse?
    So; I ask the question again:
    Now, what is your excuse?
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    I have to agree with last post. When the sticking point on this is only 24 hours I can't believe that it's even an issue. If we have departments that are willing to resign because they can't suck down a couple of cold ones at the end of a call in the fire station, how could we even stand the thought of 24 hours of formal training. I know we get all kinds of great experience on the 10 fire calls, if that; that most of our small towns in iowa are going to have. I take the responsibility of having another man or womens life in my hands as an immense responsibility. If 24 hours is the minimum I need to give, then count me in! I do have the time and attend at least 20 hours a month for training. I am also in paramedic school two nights a week and am doing clinical time on top of that. I have found time to attain my FFII cert and will be going for Fire Officer I shortly. My advice, buck up take the classes and be prepared to the best of your abilities when you are called upon.

  7. #7
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    Even if you can't just use "in-house" drills, send someone to get their Instructors Certification. Then they can do training in house. It's pretty sad if you cannot find the time to do 24 hours of training in a year. If that's the case, you would not make it in our FD...........

    We have drills every Monday. We have a morning drill (for the 2nd and 3rd shifters) from 0900-1100. We also have a night drill from 1900-2100. You are required to attend at least 2 drills per month (out of 8 total). One of our weekly drills is an EMS drill and another is a monthly meeting. The rest are fire training.

    My personal opinion is that Maryland has their $h1t together and all states could probably learn a thing or two from them in regards to the training.......

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    We already do between 3-5 hours of training a month for fire, and 3 hours on medical, if not more! We have a couple of guys that are already instructor certified. I can tell you this, we have no problem doing that much training!!! We all actually enjoy it. We make it fun as well as educational. That is the key. The department that I am thanking about leaving, is lucky if they get four guys at their training nights which are only 2 hours long. The one department has about 40 members and the other one has 13, so it is possible to say that the new training req. could hurt small departments, but I don't see that as an excuse for not training!

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    Believe me, I am all for training. As a career firefighter, we train A LOT at the station. I also attend about 100 hours of off-site training a year. However, I have an advantage in the fact that my fire dept. can afford to send me to this training. They pay for the class, and release me from work without forcing me to use vacation time.
    I think we may be misunderstanding latigo's point (please Latigo, correct me if I am the one with the misunderstanding). If this training in Iowa is set up so that a firefighter must attend "state fire schools" in order for the training to count as part of the 24 required hours, that can be difficult for a volunteer. Say a dept. has 25 volunteers, a state fire school here runs about $400. That means it will cost a dept $10,000/yr. to keep firefighters certified. Many dept. cannot afford that extra cost. So they defer the tuition cost to the firefighter. So each firefighter pays their own $400. Might not be a big deal spread over the course of a year. However, now say I have to take time off work to complete this training. If I am an hourly employee, that means that I am loosing three days of work at the minimum. At $15.00/hr (which would make my annual salary just $30,000 before taxes, which you want me to pay $400 of to attend this school) I am loosing another $360 in salary. So to Volunteer on a dept. it will cost me a minimum of $760/yr. Along with any travel expenses, hotel, etc. that may be incurred.
    Now if Iowa allows this training to be "in-house". Than I agree that Latigo's point is no longer vaid. Two hours a month is hardly enough to keep up on the very BASIC skills, let alone anything above and beyond.

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    While I realize that we shouldn't point fingers and say "you should this, you should do that" because we all have varying demands in our personal lives but if you can't handle 2 hours of training PER MONTH, then I don't think you or your department is going to be worth a damn.
    There are far too many FD's out there that have no basic standard for
    training, no continual/refresher training or training in special applications (by this I mean something as simple as downed FF removal).

    Here on Long Island where the cost of living is astronomical (2 wage earner income families often with 2 jobs per person), our depts. mandate active participation in training...of course some more than others but that's anywhere in the US. You drop by ANY firehouse here among the almost 200 vollie depts. we have here & you will find FF's drilling on something be it RIT or something as simple as trying new hoseloads to improve operations with limited manpower. We spend 2-3 hours EVERY WEEK training so how can you justify not being able (or willing) to devote 2 hours A MONTH to training????

    Again, I realize this great big country of ours is a very different place from region to region but if you can't devote 2 hours A MONTH to training, how can you expect the guy next to you on the line to trust that you'll be there for him if it hits the fan??? And conversely, how can you trust him??? Think it was Dal90 who said, training includes team building skills...not working with people on skills that may not get used for a LONG time (when was your last REAL working house fire?...some people can say last night, some say 3 years ago) is a recipe for a scene from the keystone cops on the fireground.

    If the issue of the hours thing is because the state will limit the amount of classes offered, then I agree that the courses you can take
    should be expanded. As long as the class is taught by a certified instructor & is within the hrs. requirement, it should count (we have this argument regarding our pilot CME program for EMS providers)...I believe this would help a lot of depts. out there that may have an instructor among their ranks...you could use this guy to do a 2 hour drill on basic or advanced skills, invite your mutual aid neighbors &
    everyone wins...you get training, you work hand in hand with
    brother FF's (who may be coming into get you someday) and everyone
    gets credit towards their training requirements.

    Well, that's my 2 cents...Stay Safe....and keep training!!!
    Last edited by Firescueguy; 08-16-2004 at 10:57 AM.

  11. #11
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    I decided to look this up after reading this thread. This is what is required for the MT VFDs that I work with.

    We are required to have 30 hours of training a year for that year to count toward "retirement". Retirement being 20 years in and you get a stipend for being a 20 year voly. You cant collect until you are 65, and it comes out to about 150$ a month.

    There are no certification requirements that I could find, but all are encouraged to work throug the full wildland fire offerenings and structure FF1, more if they have access.

    The wildland certs are easy, the DNRC sends instructors to teach us on site at our own fire stations.

    FF1 and FF2 are very difficult to get the actual cert. You have to go to the state academy, 500+ miles away, and go through the FF1 academy which takes IIRC 2 weeks. None of the departments have that kind of money and no Voly FF can take their 2 weeks of vacation for that, at least most wont.

    So, for approximately 10 years we have had no new FFs certified FF1 or FF2. This does not mean that we dont train for structure fire operations. IIRC the loca training officers call it fire ground operations. It is just drilling the basics and learning the new gear which has changed a ton over the last 2 years. New SCBAs and TICs have taken up a lot of the training hours.

    There were a total of 124 training hours offered last year.

    A small number of FFs had 120+ hours.

    A lot had 60.

    A few didnt make their 30.

    I am proud to say that from that NFPA survey this seems to be well above average on training for MT. Things are pretty bad in the state as a whole right now. A lot of it has to do with lack of funding for quality training.
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  12. #12
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Thumbs up Here's an Idea.......

    For those of you that want ideas on training that you can do at your stations, but is professionally written, Go to www.MFRI.org and look for "Drill of the Month" It's a FREE and Downloadable feature on that site.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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