Our department is fairly small, only about 15 active members, about half have been with the department for 10 years or more. I have only been with the department for 5 years. I know that I am not as experienced as the "older" members, but I have been to more training classes, training tower burns and lectures.
My chief recognized that my training is more up-to-date than our previous "training officer" and appointed me the training officer last year. I took it as my responsblity to train our members to be safe first, but to be open to new ideals (as I am). However, there are some time tested "ideals" that we need to train on, like Incident Command; Search and Rescue techniques.
The less experienced half of our department is attentive and open to these ideals. They ask good questions and we generally get a good discussion going (provided we are not interrupted by the other half). The more experienced are very bored and do not pay attention. Their attitude is because I am not as experienced (in their eyes), I do not know what I am talking about. These people will talk among themselves and disrupt the class.
I have attempted to match up an experience member with a non-experienced member to transfer some knowledge and guidance. However, this almost turned into an injury one night because the non-eperience member was taught bad habits (like not wearing full turnouts).
I want to involve everyone and not single members out because that does not promote trust that is needed on a fireground.
How do other volunteer training officers deal with this situation? I realize that this question probably belongs in the "Training Forum", but this is focused solely toward volunteer department. Career department members, feel free to chim in with your comments.
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Thread: Older/Experienced being trained
12-02-2004, 08:58 PM #1
Older/Experienced being trained
12-03-2004, 08:55 AM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
- Lanesboro, MA USA
Well, were do I start. I share your frustrations with probably the majority of training officers nationwide. Noone ever is interested in the training officer's position, but they love to bitch about everything you do. No matter how hard you try to set up sessions that challenge and educate your members, they always find something to bitch about. What I tell them, do it yourself! I try to set up an annual training schedule and have the officers and veteran members sign up to lead the classes. After all, these are the guys with all the knowledge and experience, we must tap into that. This gives them plenty of time to prepare and gather material in advance. And now they can't bitch that the probie is teaching and doesn't know his stuff. The training officer should be responsible for organizing the training, maintaining records, and ensuring the members have all their mandatory training each year. Everyone else needs to help out. There is no "I" in team. We're all in this together.
12-03-2004, 09:54 AM #3There is no "I" in team
VollieFireman, training us older guys is tough. There are a variety of reasons why and most of them really aren't about you, so don't take it personally. I have some 5-10 year members who have lots of training, but little actual fire ground experience. I have some 15+ year members that have almost no book/class training but lots of fire ground experience. Neither group really likes to learn from the other group. It has been getting better as we have a 20+ year guy who still likes to train/learn and is the training officer now (me ) I can get more people to listen simply because I fit in both groups. Unfortunately, it sounds like you don't have that option...yet. All I can suggest is keep up the faith and effort. By your Chief appointing you the position, you must be doing something right so keep it going. Work on the "dinosaurs" gradually, find 1 of them that you can get close with and that is willing to try something new. If you can 1 to go along, the rest will begin to follow. And this may sound rude, but I'd concentrate more on making sure the newer guys are getting the training they need and not letting the older guys stop that. These newer guys will be the old guys soon enough.
Good Luck."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?
12-03-2004, 10:41 AM #4
I know what you are going through. I am in the same position. I grew up around the fire dept, my father was a member for 28 years. I first joing another volunteer dept as a day shift member. They are a lot more active, runs a lot more calls. This was until there was an opening on my dept. I was with that dept for a year and it was a great learning experience. I attend as much training as I can and enjoy sharing what I learn with other firefighters. 1 1/2 years ago my Chief made me Training Officer. I had only been on the dept for 3 years. Not to many of the "older" guys care for the training I try to do. I am just trying to get the guys thinking and working together. Working on things that we don't do much of. There are alot of times the older guys will just stnad and watch and talk but not participate. Our dept has had a big turnover so we do have just as many young guys now that want to train. This helps. I am now on a paid dept and train a lot so I have been trying to bring some of this info that I am learning back to my volly dept and the guys are starting to pay attention now. I guess they realize I might have half a clue what I am doing. Hang in there and give them some time.Lilyogi
12-03-2004, 02:13 PM #5
This lends itself not only to training, but trying no ideas and practices in the field. It's an extension of the 'we've always done it this way' way of thinking.
So, if they have an antiquated/ineffective way of doing things, challenge em to prove how it works better. If done correctly, it can get good discussion working, and can result in compromises that may be work better than either idea.
An example: One time we had a fire on the fifth floor of one of our open floor office buildings. For months before, a couple of the younger guys had been pushing the FDNY method for high rise fire attack. But the older guys kept saying we were restless and just changing things to change em. First in engine went up with two experienced guys with the old 1.75" lines with fog nozzles. They were getting overwhelmed until second crew arrived with the 2 1/2 crosslay on their shoulder and hooked into the standpipe. Now, if you look at our high-rise packs, they're all 2.5"
In summary: Prove your point with evidence. Most people will come around."Captain 1 to control, retone this as a structure and notify the fire chief...."
Safety is no accident.
12-03-2004, 10:08 PM #6
- Join Date
- May 2004
- Baldwin Co., Alabama
It shows it's ugly head.....
That I am speaking of is TRADITION! That is the number one killer of any new ideals in the fire service. I'd have to agree with Bones to just stick it out and train the new guys well. They will one day be the veterns of the department and since they have litte experience, will use the training they are provided today.
Deal with the same things here and I've learned it is usually best to let something new go the first time it is shot down. Bring it up again later, they may have changed thier minds.LT/EMT Wright
I A C O J
All opinions expressed are solely of my personal opinion and in no way reflect those of my department. This is for those of you who use a large stick to stir excrement.
12-03-2004, 11:52 PM #7
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
- The merry old land of Oz
There is a great deal of validity to the concept that the "old guys"
have been around that block before and know what they are doing.
Like Bones pointed out, there are some of us old geezers out there who might not have the book learnen' but have experience coming out our butts
But that's not to say the old dogs can't or shouldn't learn new tricks.
After 16 years I left the department and returned several years later, only to find that so much had changed in that short time.
The old addage "if you don't use it you lose it" was never more true, as I became aware of how much I had forgotten.
The technology has advanced and I have had to soak up every scrap of information and take advantage of every bit of training I could.
So hang in there ... sooner or later they will come around or eventually risk being left behind.
12-06-2004, 09:02 AM #8
Training the inexperienced
Well from your suggestions, and a conversation I had with one of the Captains, I will focus my training on those on the department that are not as experienced. I will let the older members instill their knowledge, but correct them gently (hopefully with a Halligan) when it does not go with current practices.
I like the ideal about trying new ideals on the fireground to prove the point. I will work with a few of the better inexperienced to get some of the new concepts and let them put it in action.
Thanks for your comments and keep them coming if there is anything more you want to pass on.
12-08-2004, 04:17 PM #9
Have you had any training in adult learning? While you do not need to get "Instructor Certification" in the fire service, you can usually get trained as an instructor in things like basic first aid and such and learn many of the skills necessary to get through to the adult learner. I have been in your position and have found that using some of the techniques I have learned through BFA/CPR instructor training can apply to the mixed bag of students you have to deal with.
While you cannot allow the "old salts" to do the wrong things, especially when it is unsafe, I am sure many of them can do some things very well. As you do training, try to look for some of these skills in the older members that are causing you problems. Then, see if you can adjust things so that you involve those with all the "experience" to teach others. This could go a long way toward their need to validate their knowledge and you still achieve the goal of training the newer members. Spread this out as best you can among the older members until you get to the point where most of them have had a chance to "learn" from the others. If all goes well, they will have adapted to the point to where they are now listening to others teach them during the times that they are not teaching. If you are really lucky, they will start to "assume" that you have learned so much from all of them combined that you are now capable of teaching others some tricks that you have learned "from the books" instead of on the job. If you can validate that through demonstration and comparison to the old methods... you have got them where you want them!
Good luck!Richard Nester
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
"People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter
12-12-2004, 12:37 AM #10
I have had a similar problem...We have a TO, but he has this title b/c he served as chief for almost 20 years. We all love the guy to death, but he is not active and does not train us. Our 4 officers, Chief, Asst. Chief, Capt., and Lt. take turns training on various topics. About 6 months ago, I got Lt. and have had this problem with 1 of my fellow officers. We have all kind of informally agreed that in order to set a good example for the new guys that we would all participate in one another's classes. The way I see it, if you think you can't learn anything else, it's time to hang it up b/c you will get someone hurt or killed with that attitude.
The one guy who has given me trouble, I kind of got smart with, but did it in a joking way so it wouldn't cause problems. I was doing a ropes drill and he kept getting up and leaving and coming back and interrupting things. I said, "Well if you don't want to learn my knots then I won't show up for your SCBA training." I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing this, but it worked for my situation.
Also, with this guy being in charge of all SCBA/Interior ops, I found a way to relate what I was teaching to his interests. I taught a one handed knot that can easily be tied w/ firefighting gloves on and in the dark...When making out your lesson plans, consider the interests and attitudes of those you are teaching.
I have found that energy and enthusiasm are contagious. If you can make the guys catch yours, you'll be in good shape. I try to make everything have a competitive edge to it at first. I usually divide the group up into two teams, the "vets" and the "newbies." Of course, the "vets" don't want to be outdone by the "newbies," so they participate. Then, I put the whole group back together and do a drill as a team to promote teamwork. It's hard to do that for every drill, you just have to get really creative. I've even had success with some icebreaker/teamwork games. There are all kinds of books out for managers or group leaders to spice up meetings, and I have been able to relate most to firefighting in one way or another.
I think what has really done it for me though, is that everyone has just seen that I won't quit, and I will be optimistic and keep trying no matter what they do or say, or how much they try to clown around in my drills. I think it's just a battle of wills. Make sure your will is stronger and hopefully they'll see that what they're doing is counterproductive.IACOJ
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap it if we do not lose heart."
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