1. #1
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    Default Opinions on Instructor Training

    How soon is too soon to go through instructor training? I started a class yesterday for NPQ Instructor 1. I have app. 3 total years in the fire service, about a year of that being certified to fight fire. I am FF1 and EMT, as well as having many other fire academy classes/certs. I have roughly 9 months full time expirience, the remainder being volunteer. I am also 19 years old.

    I took the class for a few reasons. It is part of the Fire Science degree, so if I do it now I won't have to deal with the hassle during school. Also, the class is being taught at a neighboring dept, which means no leaving home and no vacation time used.

    The only reason I ask is becuase I have had mixed opinions on my taking the class with the limited time and expirience that I have. Granted, I do not plan on getting out of the class and going to teach one of my own. I plan on putting the certificate away until I am ready to use it. Any opinions are appreciated.
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    Thumbs up

    At the end of the day, it's your decision what you do in your career within the fire service. The way I would look at it, you're young and relatively new at the game, but taking the instructor level courses just means more training and experience for you! It will make you a more knowledgeable firefighter and IMHO serve to help you be a better firefighter in the future. My motto is that education is never a bad thing.

    To play devil's advocate, the only way I could see this hurting a new/younger guy would be if it turned them into a preachy know it all immediately after taking the class. if there's one thing that a senior guy isn't going to like, it's listening to a young new guy telling him that "he's doing it wrong" lol. Not saying that this is what you would do, like I say, I'm just looking at it from all angles. Just so long as when you take the courses you remember that others who may not have instructor training certifications will also have a great deal of experience which is extremely valuable.

    I'd say go for it, build your skills, gain experience, and stay humble about it all, you should have no problems!

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    I ran into the same situation while getting my degree about a year ago however I was not able to test. I looked at it like this since I wasn't able to get certified then it gave me an idea about what to expect out of the class when I take it again and helped me for when I had to do fire prevention programs as well as any other programs that the department did.

    GT I think its good that you are taking the class I don't know how it is set up where you live but in NC their are two levels of instructors level 1 which can teach but not test and level 2's who can teach and test. If it is similar around you I would suggest seeing if you can assist some of the guys you know who are instructors.

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    Didnt we already talk about this one. Youre 19 years old and a rookie. Please get some OJT under your belt and learn the job first.

    There will be plenty of future classes to take. (near home or away) Get some job and life experiences to build a foundation on before instructing others.

    Good luck.

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    He didn't say anything about actually working as an instructor. In fact, he specifically said he would "put it away" and not do anything with it for a while.

    The instructor training is, frankly, a joke. They teach you very basic pedagogical approaches that would be laughed at by a freshman education major.

    Go ahead and take the class now if you can. You are just "checking off the box". Don't actually teach a class until you have something to offer.

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    I believe that you should wait a while to get out and start teaching, as you have stated. However that should not stop you from taking the class. Most general instructors class are geared towards showing you teaching techniques. I find that this also helps you find out how it is that you most effectively learn, which obviously would be a big help to a younger member. Another benifit that I see and as you stated is that it is going towards a degree. So that kind of seems like a no brainer there. I would say take the class and learn, but get in a lot more OTJ before doing any teaching. In the end it is up to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randsc View Post
    The instructor training is, frankly, a joke. They teach you very basic pedagogical approaches that would be laughed at by a freshman education major.
    That may have been your experience with an instructor class but I assure you it isn't that way everywhere. Basic instructional skills can be useful to anyone in the fire service. I'm always amazed at how many officers couldn't present a cogent lesson plan or deliver a simple public presentation if their life depended on it. Experience is all well and good but its usefullness is limited if you are unable to pass it along to anyone else.

    To the OP, take the class, you won't regret it. It sounds like you already realize that you need to be careful about how you apply your certification later until you get some more experience under your belt to help build credibility.

    Remember, you can't entirely replace experience with training and education but training and education will make your experience more valuable.
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    As some have realized, while some have not, I have already stated that when this class is over and I have the certification, I do not plan on going right out and teaching classes. That is not my intention.

    However, I do expect to gain knowledge that will help me show other who, as crazy as it seems, may not have as much expirience as I do. Plus as I said, it will help if I decide to instruct in the future. That is way down the road after much more time and expirience. Right now it is just a certiicate that looks good on paper.

    Thanks for all the responses. I appreciate it alot.
    Career Firefighter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    OP- I went back and read your posting again. Nine months on as a FT Firefighter? Dude- Chill. Focus on your probation and getting through it.

    Please- Take it from someone (me) who was very big on getting education and certs and let some of his 20's pass me by- Go out and get your life together first. Live a little and get established. Learn the job and your co-workers. Just getting the cert. for the heck of it wont do much. You arent even 20 yet, youre a green horn.

    Focus on your job, your career and success. The instructing and certs will come down the line. Again, trust something from someone whos been there.

    As for the Instructor classes being a joke, not from my state. The make you earn it here. No skating.

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    Exactly what my brother Bou said.

    You are freakin 19 years old. You barely know what living out from under Momma's wing is like. The starch ain't even out of your gear yet!

    Give it time. You need to focus on your probation, your full time job and developing some crust on your helmet. After you get years under your belt, like at least 10 years, then try to instruct. You could take the class now, I guess it won't hurt but no one will take you seriously at 19 yrs old.
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    Learn everything you can by talking FF-1 – FF-2 and or FF-3 if this is in your state. Most state requires you to have the HIGHEST FIREFIGHTER certification before you can sit for Instructor – 1 course.

    Why be in a big rush? Get some good experience under you belt and learn all you can first. Being an instruction is more than standing up in front of other members and explaining the A B C D’s of a fire and the correct extuingshment to be used. You first have to understand and know that you are talking about. If you DON”T you are going to be a donkey butt.

    I have seen guys who think they were instructors, couldn’t spell INSTRUCTOR! They go up and make an ***** of them selves and lost the attention and their creditability.

    At 19 I was thinking more about "instructing" girls than I was about anything else.


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    In addition to this, it is very frustrating to sit in a mandatory class that is being offered by an instructor who has no experience in the subject matter.

    For example, Having a firefighter(rural volunteer) instructing ICS for High Rise. To top it all off, he acknowledges his "no experience" status and said that he would "treat it like a bunch of single-wides stacked on top of each other. How hard can it be?" I know that it is a "going to the extreme" example. However, it is a valid example none-the-less.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm big into continuing education. I feel as though once you no longer have the desire to learn, it's time to get out. The thing about getting your Fire Instructor I, you normally have to qualify to instruct a class within a certain time frame after you recieve your certification. This will then put you in the system and then you will be expected to teach a certain number of hours yearly.

    I understand the whole timing thing. However, I don't think it will help in the long run.
    Last edited by FDAIC485; 07-11-2007 at 06:57 PM.
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    Exclamation Take your time...

    As has already been stated, take the time to get other training courses. There are a ton of free/ low-cost training classes offered at most training academies. Take forcible entry, fire attack, truck company operations, most importantly, firefighter safety/survival classes, and any number of other excellent classes before worrying about being an instructor. If you are in a slow agency now, consider trying to improve your skills (avoid complacency) by taking the training classes. Each class will improve your skills, and provide you with critcal-thinking skills for the mental toolbox.

    If you have too much free time, consider traveling to the NFA, FDIC, Firehouse Expo, etc. for more training opportunities.

    It doesn't make sense to take a class now that you plan to wait several years before using/ applying anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    As some have realized, while some have not, I have already stated that when this class is over and I have the certification, I do not plan on going right out and teaching classes. That is not my intention.

    However, I do expect to gain knowledge that will help me show other who, as crazy as it seems, may not have as much expirience as I do. Plus as I said, it will help if I decide to instruct in the future. That is way down the road after much more time and expirience. Right now it is just a certiicate that looks good on paper.

    Thanks for all the responses. I appreciate it alot.
    Not for nothing, but some of the best knowledge I have gained has been from senior firefighters who never took an instructors course.

    You don't need a course to teach. You need the self motivation to pass along the experience you've gained from going to fires to younger less exerpienced firefighters.
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    I agree with the posters who say worry about probation first, it won't do you any good to get instructor certified if you are unemployed. If that is behind you the instructor courses can only be a plus. You will be teaching other pretty much from day 1 whether it is a school or community group, a proby behind you or 10-15 years down the road the firefighters under you.

    I don't understand the anti-new guy taking an instructor class. You don't take these classes and suddenly become a great instructor, you take these classes to learn techniques you must then use to become comfortable. Yes some people are natural instructors and some will never be good instructors no matter how much training they get, but most of us need practice.

    Instructor certification in most states doesn't allow you to teach anything, it only allows you to teach classes you already have taken. As a rookie firefighter you may still have some skills you may need to teach others. There will likely be another "new guy" after you, who is going to teach that person some of the finer points of hose washing and testing, loading hose etc. Its a good chance it will the slightly less of a rookie, not the senior guys.

    Or you can sit on you butt until you are ready to retire then maybe you will have enough time in. It doesn't matter how much time you have it will never be enough for some.

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    I believe seeking to improve your experience and education are marks of professionalism . Take the class and get your degree. You are right, however, to put this certificate away until you have more experience. Trying to teach classes now and having your lunch eaten by seasoned FF's may cost the fire service a good instructor down the road. 5 or 10 years worth of experience will give you more credibility. Good luck.

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    My experiance was flavored by my military training.

    We encourage young firefighters to conduct training. Everyone knows they are new. They are given a pre-approved lesson plan and a senior firefighter to mentor them through preparing and giving their class. These are in-house classes, not classes leading to a specific certification. For example, a new firefighter might be asked to conduct a 2 hour class on all the different types of nozzles on our trucks and their proper application. Maybe even set up a demonstration. He wouldn't be assigned to teach a Hazmat Awareness class though.

    The purpose is to:
    1. Develop and find instructional ability.
    2. Teach young firefighters to continue their learning and study outside of the classroom.
    3. Teach young firefighters how to find answers.
    4. Develop a mentoring attitude among our senior firefighters.

    If you were in my department, I might encourage you to pursue your instructor certification. If you have an interest in teaching, you might have a shot at becoming a training officer someday. We would have you do in-house classes. Certified Instructors would be encouraged to use you as a teaching assistant.

    A volunteer department is a different world though than a career department though. With a 25% turnover every year (national average according to the NFA), I have to spend a lot of time bringing people along faster than I would really like to do.

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