About a year ago I became the senior man on my company. I work on a 3 man engine company that consists of a Lieutenant, a brand new Firefighter that just came off of probation and me. We are fortunate enough to work for a department with a well thought out and well-structured annual training plan. However, with the wide range of skills and knowledge required to be an effective firefighter, it is necessary to supplement additional training into any good training plan. The way I have tackled this is by doing what I call “The Senior Man’s 5-Minute Training.”
The Senior Man’s 5 Minute Training is exactly what it sounds like. At some point throughout the 24-hour shift I pull my partner aside and talk for around 5 minutes about any topic in the scope of our job. This can cover anything from demonstrating why we attack a fire from the hinged side of the door to the reviewing the various uses of the NY Hook. Another situation is during a truck check, taking a tool and spending an extra 5 minutes training on its uses. It is a quick, easy way to supplement our daily training.
Most days I try to apply it to whatever our daily training was. That means, if we trained on vehicle extrication today but didn’t cover the high pressure air bags, we would pull them out of the compartment and quickly set them up. If we trained on hose line advancement, I would show him the view of the fire room from both the hinged side of the door and non-hinged side to demonstrate the advantages of attacking from the hinged side.
Another great advantage of this type of training is that it can be done without interrupting the Lieutenant’s administrative duties. We work in a small enough department that every Lieutenant in every firehouse has some sort of administrative duty. While the Lieutenant is still in charge of company level training, if he’s busy, the new firefighter and I are able to get in some quick training without taking him away from his administrative duties.
The 5-Minute training talks have also helped us to build a better working relationship. I am currently only 5 shifts in with my new junior firefighter and we have already built a better understanding of what each other are thinking. Knowing and understanding your teammates is critical in the successful operation of any good company. Training together and discussing various situations can help us to better predict what the other is thinking.
Although training for 5 minutes every shift is not nearly enough to turn a Probie into a competent firefighter, when supplemented with a well thought out and established training program, 5-Minute Training is an excellent tool. It allows the members of the crew to take their training to the next level together by supplementing on what they’ve already learned. An additional 5 minutes each day after company training can do a great deal to turn a Probie into a Firefighter.
Andy Young is a Career Firefighter and Municipal Fire Instructor with a Combination Department in Upstate, NY. In addition he is a Nationally Certified Fire Service Instructor and works for Vigilant Fire Service Training, LLC.