The Application of Training

U.S. Army Spc. David Grace, of the 287th Engineer Detachment, out of Danvers, Mass., controls a car fire during an exercise with the local fire department on Soto Cano Air Force Base, Honduras, May 1, 2008. The exercise is part of Beyond the Horizons, a joint training exercise between the United States and Honduras to foster goodwill and improve relations between the two nations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kathy J. Young/Released)



With today’s technology, anything and everything is available at your fingertips. The best part about it, it’s instant. Because of the World Wide Web, we can access things our predecessors could only dream of. We have moved on from on from the ink and paper. Not saying all of us have abandoned it, but to put this in perspective, I am writing this on an iPhone. Catch my vibe?
So with that being said, all that available information out there should lead us all to be more educated firefighters, the cream of the crop, Spartans of our generation of the fire service. We can look up tragic fires our grandfathers ran on in the early 1900’s all the way to which cable we shouldn’t cut on the newly released all electric car. Sites like Google and YouTube are great for this library of knowledge, but have we already forgotten the application part? I’ve heard too many times people say hey I saw that on the internet. But did you apply it? Well, no.. What happened to getting out and actually doing it? Are we getting the self-satisfaction of watching training videos online, in our nice office chairs with an office temperature that only breaks 75 on a bad day? Are new training programs that track your training hours by watching a video or PowerPoint enabling this? I hope not, but I feel like we are seeing it more and more every day. Because we see something on YouTube doesn’t give you a degree in that discipline. We must go out and apply it; we must go out and train.

According to the University of Houston, we learn,10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear , 70% of what we discuss with others , 80% of what we experience and 95% or what we teach others (- Edgar Dale). So with that being said, if we ignore the application part we are shortchanging ourselves by 30 – 50 percent. So how do we fix that? Simple.. go out and train. Training shouldn’t just be the responsibility of the officer. As a senior firefighter it is your job to promote training upon your shift, as a new firefighter it is your job to be hungry for it. I promise you, no one is going to deny you the opportunity to learn something that you don’t know. You might be the saltiest firefighter on your crew, but if your crew is complacent, that’s the level you fall too.
So how do we come about the application? Let’s first start off with where you are at when this idea pops into your head…Your department. If you have the luxury of working in a larger agency you probably have access to a training tower, door props, etc. This is what those resources were designed for when your agency purchased them, get out and use it!
If you are at a smaller agency and don’t have that luxury, don’t feel left out. There are many ways to replicate these high dollar purchases. Instead of a training tower ask the building owner of a multi-story structure if you can train there for an allotted time. Don’t just show up the day of in full gear, ask in advance. Not only are you getting out and training but it is great PR. If you need to build props go down to your local hardware store and ask them if they have any scrap wood or nails laying around, they will most likely give it to you. Not only were they going to trash it but now they are donating it and writing it off. Have any other stores that receive shipments? Most likely those shipments come with wooden pallets. Another great way to build props.
Is your agency allowed to go on runs to the grocery store? How about hitting up some pump ops or aerial training before you get there. No props needed there.
Those are just a couple of ways to make the application of training easier. When you go on these site like ours and the many others out there, take the time to ask questions and start conversations. Trust me, I’ve been to many classes, and some of the best knowledge I have gained was by sitting down with other firefighters after hours talking shop. You never know, you might find a firefighter out there that could build a door prop out of Legos. You won’t know unless you ask. Stay safe, and Stay low.