A-to-Z Better Training for Better Firefighters – Firehouse | Team Cansler

Education is education. The quicker we adopt this principle, the quicker we will get the information down to the student.

If we teach with a steady rhythm, if we coach, if we are patient, we will produce better students. If we teach language, if we encourage imagination, if we are good role models, we will produce better students.

All of these things should be common knowledge, but they have tended to fall away and have been replaced by unrealistic stress, quick assumptions, and bad teachers. If we have real instructors doing all of these things, we will produce better students.

A real progression

When teaching a skill or technique, it must be taught at the basic level and then advanced at a sustained rhythm. A simple metaphor for this is learning to drive. When you first sat in the driver’s seat of a car, Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t give you a 15-minute lesson and then send you off to the Daytona 500.

Start with an objective goal in mind: “I want students to be able to search a bedroom during a live fire evolution and remove a victim in under a minute.”

The first step towards this goal must be to search little to no bunker gear in an open space – possibly the same space they will search later. Then proceed to SCBA, inhale air, add victim and add theater smoke. Then – and only when they show their skills – it goes to the fire.

Every time you add something, you add a repeat. Speed ​​comes last.

If that sounds like a lot of time with lots of reps, that’s because it is. Through repetition, you build a range of skills. Remember, no one transitions the 40-yard dash from crawling to sprinting. The workout must be held in the same way. When the skill repeats, the mind has accepted and understood. The students are then ready for the next level of training.

Keep doing this until finally they can do it in the worst of conditions.

If at any point a mistake is made – and students should make mistakes – pause, correct, and repeat. This is the correct correction. If they can’t get it right without SCBA and stress, how can you expect them to get it right in extreme conditions?

Intelligent coaching

A good part of the training should be coaching. This requires investing time with students and understanding how they learn. The time and place for stress and testing will come.

There’s a good chance your students aren’t learning the same way you are, and the learning process should be developmentally focused. Confirming that they get it, through back-and-forth talks and small raises, enables this development.

As the Instructor, you must provide the instructions necessary to complete the assignment correctly. Remember, it’s a learning environment. Coach along the way as you move through the steps. Positive leadership will prove beneficial: students are more likely to listen and ask questions. Keep that in mind as you go through the steps.

In this sense, our repeated use of the antecedent is: “Observe very closely what I am about to demonstrate and save your questions for the end. The demonstration will answer most of them.” However, the teacher has to be patient. When we, as instructors, fail to take the time and do the work required to master the skill, we do great harm in the long run.

By slowing down and frontloading training, scenarios can become more realistic and difficult. Hurry does not save time; it wastes it. The student must demonstrate proficiency in order to proceed. The assumption that watching other students do the assignment is the same as doing the assignment does not work. Students have to do it with their own hands. Watching someone bench press 350 pounds. is not the same as doing it.

Take the time to take the time. In the end, it is not the fireman who benefits from this; it is the public. That’s why we train first and foremost: to give the public the best we have.

Common terminology

The language you use must be consistent. This also requires practice on the part of the instructor.

Every time a term is used, the brain searches for it in order to understand it. “Pumper” and “engine” may mean the same thing to you, but not to the Day One student.

Teachers should spend time together before class to develop a common language. This is easy when the instructors are from the same department or region, but can quickly dissipate if not properly planned.

This common language is exactly the same as the English language. Of course, there are different dialects depending on where you are in the country. You have to adapt to that and be consistent in your class.

Realistic training developments

Imagination can be a wonderful tool in training. However, it does not replace the actual physical tools. Students and teachers may imagine slightly different things.

Images, sounds and videos can begin to fit into this imagination. Theater smoke works very well when used correctly. I’ve seen some of the best instructors in the country add things like smells and flame style lightbulbs to add to the realism.

Structure the training development to include common items that firefighters will see at the fire station. This should be regional for the training scenario. Kitchen tables belong in the kitchen; free rooms are in vacant houses, etc.

The environment should appear as realistic and meaningful as possible. A child’s room should look and feel like a child’s room. This all seems very simple, but think about the calls you are making now and who is most likely to be caught by a fire. Elderly and disabled people top the list, but how many fire drill scenarios have you completed that address that? For example, have you ever seen a walker or wheelchair in a training building? If not, find one.

By teaching firefighters to look around during rescue operations, in their own homes, and as they construct buildings in their area, you can begin to develop the situational awareness that is needed.


As educators, we must set a good example for our students. How would you react to a dentist with bad teeth or a personal trainer who is out of shape?

You must be able to complete the assignments you require of your students. This includes the simplest things: equipment drills, masking, and SCBA usage. This gives great credibility to your teaching techniques and requirements. That doesn’t mean the 30-year-old veteran instructor, who has a bad back and knees, has to demonstrate the tripod position, but someone has to.

Also, there is a time to push the envelope with stress. When done methodically and in an organized manner, it can do amazing things for the student.

It also means that trainers need to understand that they don’t know everything. You can not. So when they are presented with something they don’t know, they have to admit it. Then find the answer and give it back to the student. We constantly say, “I don’t know everything,” but never really say, “I don’t know” when presented with something we don’t know. If the instructor instead digs through with the quickest answer they can think of, they can often end up teaching the wrong thing. What happens if the student uses this incorrect information?

The goal of education is to produce better students. You can’t do that by lying to them.

Finally, trainers should look and act professional. This includes looks and demeanor.

The goal: a better student

The title “Instructor” is easy to obtain in the American fire service. Sometimes these are experienced, highly gifted individuals who have the skills and abilities to earn this title. In other cases, the people are just the closest.

As good servants of our profession, we must constantly keep this in mind. When teachers say something, how do they know that statement is true? Where did you learn it? How did the person who taught them acquire this knowledge?

It’s okay to ask these questions. We need to share tried and tested practices while allowing trials of new concepts.

The aim of education should be to produce a better student. This will need time. Planning and preparation must be done in advance. Professional teachers use lesson plans, progress controls, and goals. You should do that too.

Keep your students at a high level and keep the instructors at an even higher level. I’ve been very fortunate to see some of the best firefighter instructors at work. They shouted when the time was right, they exercised whenever possible, and they set high standards for themselves.

Your task as a fire brigade instructor is reconnaissance. Be a mentor, be a friend and help. Do your job and help the next generation to be better than the generation that went before it.

Leave a Comment