MI Mandates Continuing Education for State's FFs

Nov. 20, 2021
Michigan's Firefighter Training Council will require all firefighters to take 36 hours of continuing education every three years beginning next fall.

Nov. 19—The state of Michigan's Firefighter Training Council will begin mandating a minimum of 36 hours of continuing education every three years beginning in October 2022 for all firefighters, including part-paid and full time employees.

Currently, firefighters in Hillsdale County are only required to pass the state's Firefighter I & II course — nearly 280 hours of class and practical training — held once a year beginning in December or January and spanning into early summer.

Once the class is complete, probationary firefighters must pass both written and practical tests to obtain their certifications.

And then they are subjugated to whatever mandatory trainings their departments hold according to their own internal policies.

The training council's mandate will establish a baseline for continuing education so that all firefighters continue to train for their job.

Hillsdale County Fire Association President Mike Rose, a 27-year veteran firefighter and the current chief of the Hillsdale Township Fire Department, said the training does not have to be state sponsored training and the only real change for his department is trainings will now have to be formally documented and subject to review by the state.

Rose's department has an internal policy of conducting 20 training hours a year for all firefighters which is spread out month to month and conducted on the first Sunday of the month following their monthly business meeting.

Rose said his firefighters regularly train on pump operations, jaws of life techniques, fire search and rescue, establishing landing zones, downed power lines, propane fires, drivers training, radio communications training and other job-related functions.

Hillsdale County Fire Training Coordinator Matt Halleck, a full-time firefighter with the city of Hillsdale and former Jefferson Township firefighter, believes the training council's decision is a good thing for the fire service.

"It's going to keep people accountable to train," Halleck said. "We're in a job that could kill you. I don't think you can train enough."

Halleck said the city of Hillsdale mandates 24 hours of annual training per internal policies and their training is typically scenario based training which has included city firefighters donning full gear and "high-rise packs" and climbing all nine floors of the high-rise in town to fight a simulated fire in the dwelling.

Rose recalled 40-50 years ago when firefighter candidates in the county simply showed up and "learned on the fly" from seasoned firefighters. This led to many accidents and some deaths in other jurisdictions, Rose said.

Most firefighters in Hillsdale County are paid-on-call firefighters who work full-time jobs elsewhere and have family responsibilities, but enter the fire service out of a passion for service to the community.

In addition to their full-time employment, firefighters are subject to being dispatched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for emergency calls. Most firefighters also participate in department fundraisers, internally-mandated trainings and often volunteer their time to assist in various community functions such as fire safety training at schools.

"It's tough, sure," Rose said of the fire service. "You've really got to have someone whose dedicated to the fire service and their community."


(c)2021 Hillsdale Daily News, Mich.

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