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Classroom or Pratical Training

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  • Classroom or Pratical Training

    I am a fairly new training coordinator for our department. I had been doing this since January. The first six months had been spent going over some of the basics for the department. How and where to respond, working with hoselines, driving, etc. It has been going fairly well and I have learned a lot about training.

    Now that this is almost over, I have a question about the next step. I have noticed that some of our members seem to have more fun when we perform pratical training rather than classroom. However, if you do not have some of the basic knowledge, then the pratical experience will do no good.

    When planning training, how do you balance these two issues?

    Another question, in an effort to get more members involved in training, would you assign them classes to teach? I am not quite sure how to handle the training of the members who have been on the department longer than me.

    Thanks for your help

  • #2
    What is your drill schedule? How many drills per month?

    How many officers do you have?

    How many members do you have?

    What is the general level of training most of your members have?
    IACOJ Agitator
    Fightin' Da Man Since '78!


    • #3
      You've been given a job, just do it. Years does not equal wisdom. Just treat everyone the same. When I'm up there teaching, there are some that have been there longer then me but I'm in charge of training and I know I have to do it.

      As for deciding between classroom and hands on, I divided up our training year and split it in half. Half the year in classroom and the other half outside. Then I tried to put the classroom time during the times of the year that I would want to be inside and the times that I would want to be outside is hands on training. After this it's just a matter of deciding what topic is for what month. It's plain to see that wildland would be taught in the spring while structure fires can be done during the fall.

      I'm sure you'll get it all worked out fine. Just relax and DON'T picture the audience in their underware.
      NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
      IACOJ Attack

      Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.


      • #4
        Vollie- you'll find that with most adult learners is that they will remember over 90% of what they're taught if they SEE and DO. (I'm sure you're no different- what stands out as the most memorable training session you've ever attended?) Have a good mix of practical and theory.

        I used to try and alternate my theory and practical sessions. Cover of the theory, becasue it is important, especially when you get into potentially dangerous topics such as HAZMAT, Confined Spaces, B.A., etc.

        Students need to understand the "why's", etc before they put the wet stuff on the hot stuff, etc.

        Actively involve your students. Find out what they want to learn.

        If they're interested then get them to present to the class, but be prepared to step in and assist as some people may have the knowledge, but not the training experience to actaully take a class properly.

        Be sure to check their content first before they present- there's nothing worse than seeing the wrong information presented...

        Hope this helps.


        • #5
          Gee, that sounds familiar. I was faced with the same problem about 7 years ago in my Volunteer Department. I found that you need a little of both class room and practical training to make it work.

          First, use the classroom session to go over basic safety procedures and operational things. Then take the class outside (or in the bays if it's raining) and have them do the jobs. Spend at least one night a month on hose handling techniques. Mix up the crews so they don't work with the same people every time. Also, offer as much incentive to them as possible. Maybe one night a month (if the budget allows) offer a light meal, such as hot dogs or homemade soup for supper right before training. That way, they don't have the excuse of "I have to eat supper before I come and by then it's too late".

          Also, if you have members that are very proficient in certain tasks, feel free to use them as instructors in your department. If they have the knowledge, let them pass it along. Have them just give you a short outline of what their topic is and go from there. Yes, you need to make sure they are giving the right information, but also you need to give them some say in the class content.

          Finally, get the Higher-Up's involved. If the Chief Officers are motivated enough to attend most of the training, then the membership will be willing to attend as well. Also, make sure all your officers have some sort of officer training offered to them at least once a quarter. This will give them some skills to improve their jobs, such as incident command and scene safety.

          All I can tell you is to enjoy the job you have been given. It is an honor to be asked to lead the department training program. I hope you can make a difference and one day see the results of years of work like I have recently seen in my own department.
          Tell me, I will forget. Show me, I will remember. Involve me, I will understand.


          • #6
            ADZE39, to answer your questions:

            Our department meets the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Monday each month. The 3rd is dedicated to maintenance and truck inspections, and any cleaning that is required at our stations.

            We meet starting at 7 pm and usually lasts about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. So we only have 2 trainings per month.

            Regarding officers, we have a chief, two assistant chief and three captains. However, they all have agreed to train with the rest of the members. Our total membership is about 18, of which we will consistantly get about 10 per training night (less on maint. night).

            The level of training varies from novice (newest members) to well experienced (chief and assistant chiefs). The knowledge also varies, some of the newer members have been to more fires than the older members. I am about average on my number of responses.

            Regarding the rest of the suggestions, I will try them. I like the ideal of splitting the training and that is what I will strive to do. I also like how to get the older "more experienced" members involved. But would you assign them a class or let them pick one?

            I have one other problem, but it is with one of the assistant chiefs. He feels that since I do not have as much hands-on experience as he does, I am not qualified to teach. However, I will be the only member to have FF I, and I am one of two members to have a "Basic Firefighter" certification (only in Arkansas I think).

            I feel that even without the "hands-on", I can train our members in proper techniques. Also, our training in the past has been more of the "good-ole-boys" stuff. Just a bunch of guys getting away from home for a few hours. Now that they have to work, they are a little ****ed off.

            I do have the support of the chief and he is usually the first to do our practicals. I am very grateful for him at this point.


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