1. #1
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    Default Once again my friends, I need your insight and feedback

    This semester is Fire Personnel Management and once again I would greatly appreciate your feedback as I don't have a department to refer to.

    1. How does your fire department assess its training needs (or do you)? How do you (or do you) then design your training program taking into account the budget, time and the current levels of training that members already have? How effective do you think your training programs are?


    2. What kind of performance appraisal system does your department use? What are the good points? What needs to be improved and how would you improve the system?


    Question 2 is a bit harder as we need to give specifics and that is something I don't have. Your feedback will be very much appreciated on either or both questions. You can also email me if you don't want to post your comments here.

    many thanks.
    Last edited by superchef; 03-21-2006 at 11:27 PM.

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    As a brand new training lieutenant I'm very interested in the feedback!

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    We need more training. I'll say that. Mainly fire training.

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    Cheffie, if it helps I'll send you some stuff on email from over here. Unless you need a US dept to refer to?
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    I dont know if an Australian brigade would be too much help to you be we asses our firefighters on competency. If a firefighter is competent at a certain task then he is marked off for it. If s/he is not yet competent at it then they will have to wait until the next time it is assesed to be marked off on it. When the firefighter has been marked off on all of the required profeciencies; they become a qualified firefighter.
    The training is done within the brigade and is overseen in a general sense by the group officer. The group officer being something close to a cheif, probably slightly higher.
    This is a new system for the rural fire service however. To tell you the truth i am not technically a fully qualified firefighter on paper because i have not been tested on my competency in the use of extinguishers. Despite the fact that i am very capable of using one and using the right one .
    The downside to this system is brigades such as mine that do not have easy access to some training. Certain brigades can not practice on hydrants because the closest hydrant is over 100km away sometimes. My brigade has troubles with training its members on the use of fire extinguishers because of the troubles with getting the extinguishers refilled. It often takes too long to get an extinguisher refilled; therefore the brigade can not afford to train with them lest they are needed.
    I would improve the system by having a centralised centre for training. This takes away the chance of new firefighters being trained at different levels and different techniques.
    Well i am kinda busy in a lecture myself so i should probably start paying attention to it now.
    If you have any questions just send me an email and if i think of anything else i will add it in another post.
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    Martin
    That would be great. I like having the international perspective in my papers.

    Patty-

    Same thing. Thanks for your insight. It is very much appreciated.

    Firetacoma- I'll let you know what feedback I get.

    thanks guys.
    Last edited by superchef; 03-22-2006 at 11:45 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by superchef
    This semester is Fire Personnel Management and once again I would greatly appreciate your feedback as I don't have a department to refer to.

    1. How does your fire department assess its training needs (or do you)? How do you (or do you) then design your training program taking into account the budget, time and the current levels of training that members already have? How effective do you think your training programs are?
    Training... we never do enough. Sure, a company officer can use simple things like street drills, district familiarization to learn the types of buildings and possible hazards in their first due district, or do a few evolutions.. the problem is being able to do it uninterrupted and get some learning accomplished!

    For the vast majority of career FD's, mine included, to get quality training accomplished requires coverage for the companies involved.

    You can be training and then have the tones hit for a call, and you have to go. The ideal world would be to schedule training and hire personnel on OT to cover the runs.

    We do this with some of our specialized training (confined space/trench rescue), as we are still using funding for training from mitigation money the FD recieved from the Massachusetts Water Ressources Authority built a water treatment plant in my community.

    Sure, we can use a reserve rig to do hose evolutions, foam drills, etc. or have one Ladder cover for one when the other company is drilling (providing both Ladders are in service), but between calls, inspections and the day to day operations, we are not only strapped for adequate funding for training but for time as well.


    2. What kind of performance appraisal system does your department use? What are the good points? What needs to be improved and how would you improve the system?
    What apparaisal system? My department don't have a "formal" appraisal system per se. We record who was on duty for the training by having each firefighter sign the personnel and oems rosters. As for appraisal, the "jury of your peers" is a great motivator to do well.. there is nothing like getting ragged on and your stones busted by the brothers and sisters. Appraisals are done informally


    Question 2 is a bit harder as we need to give specifics and that is something I don't have. Your feedback will be very much appreciated on either or both questions. You can also email me if you don't want to post your comments here.

    many thanks.
    Sherry... glad to help!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 03-22-2006 at 11:25 AM.
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    What apparaisal system? My department don't have a "formal" appraisal system per se. We record who was on duty for the training by having each firefighter sign the personnel and oems rosters. As for appraisal, the "jury of your peers" is a great motivator to do well.. there is nothing like getting ragged on and your stones busted by the brothers and sisters. Appraisals are done informally.
    Speaking as "Malahat" VFD, that would be us too. Appraisals are a very informal affair, and getting "busted" by your peers during training evolutions is normal. They do keep a record of attendance for each training session, but I dont recall there being much for an appraisal system, other then "He done got it right."

    As for Vienna, things seem to be a bit more organized and formalized. Our website has room for logging in attendance hours for training and other events. Logging training hours consists of identifying what the evolutions were, so there is a record of what was done. I'm new enough yet that I am not sure how appraisals are done - I know I'll be finding out soon enough. And of course all Academy appraisals are reported back to the station. As our instructor commented last night: "Even if I'm not here (and he was away for Sunday's session) I still hear All About It." Same goes for the Home Station, as many of the Academy instructors are also our Station Officers.
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    Thanks Rick and Capt. Gonzo.

    Another question:

    "A formal performance appraisal is a systematic approach to how well your personnel are ale to perform their jobs in relation to the established standards. "

    If the process is an informal one, then how are you able to effectively design a training program that will be both time efficient and cost effective given that you are operating with a fixed budget? I also realize that there are many factors at play here (many you mentioned Capt. Gonzo). But, at the same time, training and performance go hand in hand with increased life safety and reducing preventable injuries and deaths and as such, shouldn't the process be more formalized? Yes? No? Do I make sense?

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    Sherry... many times, the "performance appraisal" is on the fireground. A good stop, a good rescue are alwasys indicators that the training works. There are going to be those instances where there is nothing you are going to do except a "surround and drown" operation.

    Performance appraiials in training reflect skills performed in a controlled situation, while the fireground is hardly that!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Sherri,

    To take appraisals a little further, when I have a new firefighter assigned to me, as his (or her) company officer, our training officer gives me a list of objectives that he (she) must meet during the remainder of their probationary period after they come to us from the academy. These include most of the basics that they will have picked up at the academy, as well as some "local stuff". For example, they must demonstrate a knowledge of the streets in their first-due area, via a short written test on the location of 20 to 25 streets in their first due. They must know what is in each compartment of the rigs assigned to their particular station. They must demonstrate competency in being the hydrant man, (the duties assigned to the #3 position on the rig when we are the water supply engine), connecting to an F.D. sprinkler/standpipe inlet, stretching a line, placing ladders, etc. They usually have to do a basic vehicle stabilization excercise along with a small door-pop type extrication evolution, to demonstrate competency with the hydrualic rescue tools. We go over all of this when they hit the shift, and I enjoy it because it gives the whole company an opportunity to renew and refresh our skills, which sometimes isn't easy with all our other little demands and projects. I write a monthly performance report of their progress, and a copy goes to the training officer as well as our shift commander (In our case , a Capt.). All of these drills are kept track of by me, with a written sheet that I check off as we go, as well as in our computerized record keeping system, which keeps track of times, dates, personnel, etc. This way, if someone ever says, "Wait, I was never shown how to do that", we have the documentation to back it up. If they are having any trouble, we make sure to take care of it before the probationary period is up, because before they get off probation, they undergo a test at the training grounds with the Training Capt. I am not there to look over their shoulder at that point, he does it with another company and officer, to ensure objectivity. This is a system that works pretty good for us, and I suspect at F.D.'s all over the country. To add to what Gonz said, as far as finding the time, sometimes that can be a challenge. Fortunately our Training Capt. posts a weekly schedule, with times blocked out for training. We sometimes have to relocate other companies to other houses to maintain adequate coverage. Another thing we sometimes do is bring a spare rig to the training site, and lay and stretch lines off of this rig, so we can be readily avalable to take a run if needed. If I can be of any more help, drop me an E-mail and I can fill you in. Leroy140@aol.

    And P.S. Please don't send any brownies as I am on the straight and narrow. Down 11 pounds so far.
    Last edited by lieutleroy140; 03-22-2006 at 08:47 PM.
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    We assess our training needs by:

    1. Formally reviewing firground incidents in detail to determine where the problems occurred. Was there a delay in performing any function? What caused the delay? Has this type of problem been ongoing at other incidents? What firefighters, in terms of experience level, have been having the issues?
    Does this corrective training/re-training need to be addressed to certain firefighters or the department as a whole?

    2. Asking has our mission changed? Recent example of this is sending 5 members to a recent USAR collapse program as a result of Katrina and Rita. This has prompted the attempted formation of a regional USAR team and we feel that we should be a part of it. It has also driven the expansion of our own Special Response Team, and expanded SRT training during 2006 to expand thier skills (such as a Trench Rescue class, scheduled for May) and integrate new members.

    3. Asking have we had changes in structure types? An example is the recent construction of larger homes being built in the district, which has prompted additional training in 2 story operations, large area search and "Dallas" type roof ventilation operations.

    4. Reviewing how many new members do we have and what is thier skill level? We routinly assess thier skill levels and design training around them 1-2 times a month. Third week is a more complicated drill for expereinced memebers where the new people assist and get to see an intergrated operation. Fourth week is often EMS training as we all need Continuing Education hours (non-EMS do a fire related practical drill).

    5. Do we have new equipment which requires training?

    Budget is always a factor in training. Luckily the USAR training was free to us and funded by the feds. We use in-house instructors whenever possible as we are lucky to have 2 training officers from career departments as volunteer members. We attempt to use the National Fire Academy as a management training resource as it is basically free, however, it does come at a price if we snd one of our 4 career members as we need to cover thier shifts with releif (paid volunteers) staff. We also use as much regional LSU (state training agency) training as possible, as it's free or very low cost. we generally do not send them to classes on thier campus as those classes are very costly, and again, requires paid coverage if we send career people.

    Time is also an issue, especially in a primarily volunteer department such as ours. Time is valauble and need not be wasted. Obviously we strive to be efficiant, but every department falls short now and then.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 03-22-2006 at 08:45 PM.

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    1. How does your fire department assess its training needs (or do you)? How do you (or do you) then design your training program taking into account the budget, time and the current levels of training that members already have? How effective do you think your training programs are?
    What we do is have a meeting with the officers and see what we need to work on, identify where our weaknesses are. Then we look at what is required by NFPA, the State, and our own SOG's. We look at our budget and see how much money we have. Then we formulate a priority list and put the budget towards the ones highest on the list. We also try to use our "in house" talent to arrange or teach certain topics as well.

    2. What kind of performance appraisal system does your department use? What are the good points? What needs to be improved and how would you improve the system?
    We actually have a "Performance Evaluation" form that is filled out on everyone from the Assistant Chief's on down to the newest probie. (The PFC and the City Council evaluates the Chief.) This is done annually on everyone, every 6 months for probationary firefighters. We have a one year probationary period uness extended for availability of certification classes. We are sectioned off into two "squads" each consisting of an Assistant Chief, a Captain, and two Lieutenants. The Lt.'s review the FF's, Captain reviews the Lt.'s, and the Assistant Chief reviews the Captain, the Chief reviews the Assistant Chiefs.

    This review consists of individual goals to work on for the next year and give praise to what they have accomplished already. Works out pretty good and seems to really develop the best in people.

    If you would like a copy of the form email me at dickeydo@charter.net
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
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    Smile wow-great feedback everyone!!!!!

    Thank you so much for your feedback so far. I am printing them up so I can make notes (and probably come back with more questions!).

    I appreciate the time that all of you take to answer my endless questions.

    Leroy- Congrats on the weight loss. I promise no brownies.


    Dickey- I'll drop you an email. I'd like to see your form.

    Martin- I forgot to post my email for you if you want to send me anything.

    superchefsherry@aol.com


    thanks again guys. what would I do without you?

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    In our Vollie dept we look at members qualifications and generally send them to Spring or Fall Fire School.

    When someone new joins, we try to give them the bare basics. Their need for basic knowledge and their questions often prompt our training sessions. Any new equipment or change in procedures will prompt training. Anything we encounter on-scene that worked or may need some "tweaking" will generate a training session. If there is something specific to the season (I'm talking winter vs summer, there can be a significant difference in method under different weather conditions) we train for the season that we are approaching.

    In short, if there is a perceived need, we train. We do not necessarily follow a defined schedule. We do not particularly have a performance standard that individuals are held to in order to stay on the dept.
    Members are assigned according to what they are able to perform safely and effectively in the Incident Commander's opinion. Thus, there is room for an individual to be assigned to different tasks depending on the IC's opinion of their capabilities.
    Last edited by ROOKIELZ; 03-24-2006 at 01:10 AM.
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