Training – Are You Doing Enough?

Phil Burden with JD Vasbinder. Two great trainers!

The following post contains some thoughts on training from Firefighter Phil Burden (retired Westerville (OH)).  My conversations, training opportunities, and email correspondence with Phil are motivating to say the least.  Firefighters must gain the insight and knowledge of seasoned veterans, adapt to current day environments, and pass on the traditions and love for the fire service. 

We often have slogans in the fire service that make us sound better than the other departments or houses.  Like Phil’s, Second to None, or the houses up the road; Look Busy Till We Get There, First In Last To Leave – Pride of the Southside, Well Done at Ones, and the list goes on…

With a patch or slogan that makes you sound better than anyone else, are you?  Can everyone tie his or her knots?  Does everyone have a good understanding of pump operations, rope rescue, RIT, firefighter survival, throwing ladders, tools & equipment, HAZMAT, fire behavior, building construction, or anything in the latest firefighter textbook?

Try these examples – Do you know the GVWR of the truck you are driving and trying to stop?  What airpacks are your surrounding jurisdictions using?  Do you have enough cribbing and airbags for an under-ride extrication?  What happens if an occupied car rolls onto its roof into a creek with only the tires showing?

Do we train or practice 2-3 hours everyday with 2-a-days all summer like the football team we watch on Saturday or Sunday afternoons?  Can we run a play in our sleep?

Phil’s dad tells a story about a fire on the roof of a business in downtown Columbus where a billboard was weakened and needed to be tied back for safety.  The guy tying the knot was having trouble with the knot, until he put the rope behind his back to tie it.  He had practiced tying the knot behind his back so much that it was the only way he could.

If you have patch or slogan – has everyone bought into it?  Can they live up to it?  Is it something the whole department can do?  Remember, training comes back on the officers – line, training, chief.  When someone gets hurt or there is a delay in operations, a lack of training excuse will be tried.  If you think you might give that excuse, then get out of the recliner and train like your life depends on it.  Make sure your abilities correspond with your patch or slogan, which in turn will show that the traditions of your organizations are a great force for public welfare.

Pass it on!

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  • Lt. Jason Deptula

    Some absolutely great thoughts! Training to train is one thing, “Training like your life depends on it” is definitely the correct approach. Training and the opportunity to train should not be taken lightly. Weather a volunteer or full-time department training needs to be planned out in advance, all the tools equipment and scenarios ready so come “T” time the trainer and members are ready to go and focused. Training time is a valuable commodity as well as peoples time, don’t waste it. Bring in external trainers whenever possible, especially seasoned veterans, they bring the most important aspect “real. world experiences” and you will more than likely learn at least one new technique, or something that you might want to consider implementing into your “way of doing business”. Train right, train hard and train often.