Light Box Instructions – Where’s The Training?

By: Paul Hasenmeier

Last night I was sent the picture below.  Let me first say that this particular light is not on a fire apparatus.  We had a little bit of discussion about the labeling on Facebook and figured the topic was worth sharing.  Here’s what the label says if you can’t read it in the picture:  #1 Push black release on bottom  #2 Pull upward on flashlight.  Check out the picture and think for a moment about training.  Then scroll down for a few more thoughts.


On first glance I’m sure most of you are saying WTF or how does someone not know how to take this light box off the charger.  Let’s stop and think for a minute…Did you know how to take it off before you walked into the firehouse the first time?  Someone probably showed you or you took a few minutes to figure it out.

The discouraging part of the labeling on this particular light is that it tells the user how to remove the light.  At first glance, I would say that training is lacking if we have to provide directions on how to remove it.  Was the label added because it has been ripped off the wall more than once.  If so, where is the training?

Robert Reid gave an example about teaching recruit school.  He was asked to show a spanner wrench and was actually taken back for a second because he thought “you want to fight fire and you don’t know what a spanner wrench is?”  He quickly remembered that he always didn’t know what a spanner wrench was.  Similar thoughts for most of us I’m sure.

Frank Villarreal actually used this example last night after seeing the post on FB and asked some of the new recruits on his department to go get one of the light boxes of the rig.  Five minutes later they came back and said they didn’t know how to unhook it.  They then had a impromptu light box training for the new recruits.  Well done Frank.

This just happens to be a prime example of what we need to do as trainers in the fire service.  We have to step back from time to time and remember to show the basic operations of some of what we now think are the simplest of tasks.  It’s our job to show them the way.  We have to be great at the little things, so the big things are more manageable and then we have no hesitation getting in, getting out, and going home.

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