A long time ago, sports was a big deal to me. I had coaches along the way who tried to make me better. Sometimes I listened and sometimes not. One thing they all would tell me was to do the exercises, drills, conditioning, etc., the right way because I was only cheating myself if I took a short cut or did things improperly.
As a kid, I must admit, I did take the easier route. Of course, the only one to really suffer was me. Fast forward to now. Nearing the end of my career, I can think back on times where I maybe didn’t put my best foot forward during training, education, and preparation. In essence I was not only cheating myself, but also my team.
We all need to make the commitment to do our very best every time we roll out the door. It not only affects us as individuals but also the rest of our crew and the citizens we are sworn to protect.
That brings me to a related topic. During my travels I run into individuals who only seem interested in obtaining a certificate. They take the short cut so they can collect their “credentials” without ever benefitting from the training.
So even if you can produce a binder full of paperwork, it may not be a true indicator of your core knowledge. You are the judge of it and would be the one to do an evaluation of your credentials.
To compare it to something else, I’ve had a couple of my children take piano lessons. When they didn’t practice for a week or so, I would start to notice. If they didn’t practice for a few days, their teacher would know. If they didn’t practice every day, they would know. In the end, it was up to them individually to commit the time and energy to get better.
We need the same mindset in the fire service. Every firefighter must look at their own performance and see if they are carrying their own weight. Train every day and commit the energy to do the work to improve.
Speaking of regular and routine training, in my opinion, the needs of the fire service for training have never been more demanding and time-consuming. There is so much more information that is needed to properly perform the job. The world is changing at a very rapid clip, increasing the types of hazards being faced. There are more tools at one’s disposal. There is great challenge to gain knowledge and then maintain to a level of competence that is necessary.
All of this is added on to an increased workload for emergency response for the vast majority of departments. So, to recap, you are asked to do more, learn more, be more proficient, maintain competence all while responding to more calls. And many organizations are understaffed. There needs to be a change if the level of service is to be what has come to be expected in the service. Leadership needs to press for more resources including personnel.
As the pandemic restrictions are easing in most places, we can only hope that there is a return to some semblance of normalcy with respect to in-person training. We have missed the national conferences like FDIC and FRI, as well as many regional and local training programs.
While everyone tried their best with online training utilizing Zoom and the like, it just isn’t the same. Those of us in the fire service who believe that the in-person option cannot be duplicated online must do our part to help restore the valuable component of overall training programs to include everything.
We may be able to continue to augment training with online versions, but we cannot become solely reliant on this. Of course, I have already heard from many how this saves lots of money and gets more people involved. Having delivered and received online training, I know it is not the same. We need to be in the same room.
Please make every effort to participate and encourage others to do so. It is in your best interest and the citizens that you serve.