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What Is The Expiration Date On Your Training?

I am not sure there is one, but as each day moves along I believe that like a loaf or bread and a gallon of milk our training may have an expiration date.

I saw some stuff this week on social media and there was discussion that related to a major urban fire department and some techniques and tactics from the early 1980s. As I reviewed the document i read each line carefully and I began to wonder a couple of things: As a Chief and an IC would I use these tactics and techniques tomorrow?

As an instructor could I teach these techniques tomorrow to a small suburban department anywhere in the US and Canada. the answer in both cases was no. Then I thought back on my career and my initial training and I will admit I was taught these things, I had done these things and in fact as an instructor I had taught these things in the classroom and in acquired structures and live burns.

It gave me pause and I hope this post gives you pause also.

I think about some of the ridiculous (now) techniques I learned in Advanced First Aid and my first EMT class in the mid 1970s. I would be sued, beaten and arrested if I tried to perform those tactics today.

You see we do not do EMS like that anymore. (Thankfully)

I started to think about all facets of my training. The first DOT guidebook I used said to evacuate about 1500 feet from a burning propane tank. Now that distance is over a half a mile away.

I thought about using 3/4 inch booster lines in buildings and how to use a cooper hose jacket (Look it up) and a 2 1/2″ hose clamp.

You see the more I thought the more I realized that some of my training had expired.

Now that I know that I have to adjust my training I seek out and the training I deliver to make sure it is fresh…..

If you rely on training that has expired, it might not be the only thing that expires.

Think about it.


You know what the problem is here, I don’t have any power! Well I would ask that we slow down and take a look at that and realize that every member of an organization has some form of power. The real issue is do they recognize it and what do they do with it?

In an organization as in life we are all given lots of powers. I have the power to help or hurt. I have the power to love or hate. I can move this organization forward in the direction it is going or I can change the direction or resist.

Using just those few examples I think we can all reflect for a minute and realize that we all have powers that we may not even recognize.

We might have legitimate power from rank that we have achieved. We might have expert power from some skill or expertise that we have that others might not have. We might have some unofficial power that people might have bestowed upon us, meaning that they will follow us and we have the power of influence over others.

Power is like all other things we possess. We must recognize it, respect it and gain control over how we direct it. Will we share some of our expertise with a new member? Will we use our personal power to undermine and submarine the officers and the chief.

The gift of power is a very important thing. This week figure out and summarize  what power you have and then make a plan on how you will use it or share it in your organization.

Random Thoughts on Minimum Standards

This is a term that gets tossed around the fire service often. It was a term that I used to hate when I was the Coordinator of Firefighter Certification. You know, now that I think of it, I am not real fond of it now either!

The firefighter that passes firefighter I/II certification with a 70% actually got 30%  wrong! But still he or she is certified to meeting the minimum required standards.

I understand why we have minimums and i get it, but please never let the minimum be your goal.

When training new members, get them passed where they need to go and let them know that the minimum is the floor, but we should be aiming for the ceiling.

Would you go to, or would you take your family to a doctor who graduated with the minimum credentials? Would you get on a plane with a pilot or co-pilot that just made the minimum?

Lead your people to the top. They can and will get lost on their way but that is our job, to guide them. Don;t get frustrated when they struggle, refocus and redouble your efforts to get them where they need to be.

As senior members, officers and instructors let us always coach our members to a higher level. In fact coach them to the highest level they can achieve……and while you are at it and caring for others……push and test yourself once in a while too!

Tactical Fire Problem – Multi-Story with Fire Escapes

This week The Tactical Fire problem is a multi-story older building with fire escapes.

1.) What is your initial report?

2.) How would you deploy your manpower of 2 engines and 1 ladder initially?

3.) Does your department have training and or SOPs for operating on fire escapes?

4.) Name 2 methods for extending hose lines on the exterior over fire escapes.

5.) What does the age of this building indicate about fire spread potential?


Your Opinion

Hey, you know what they say about opinions…..they are like…….and everybody has one.

Opinions are the best. The first amendment says that in America we all get to have freedom of speech. There are some limitations about that but they are small.

The thought for today is, I know that you have the right to your opinion, but what is the weight of your opinion?

An opinion about the job is aways relevant, except on the fireground. The fireground and to many degrees the fire department organization itself is not Burger King….You don’t get to have it your way!

If your are truly an expert in your field then you have a right to expert opinion. The question here becomes who proclaimed you an expert? The court and judicial system/ An academic university? Does the fact that you have a PHD or a Masters degree give you expert status? Does the fact that you have written a book given you expert status? All of these have been considered in the past and I guess the listener has the right to determine your expert status.

If you have a ton of education but absolutely no practical experience does that your opinion mean more than someone with a limited education with multiple years of experience? I guess that your opinion is sort of like beauty, it is really in the eye of the beholder.

My advice, guidance and purpose for this week is this:

when you render opinion, know what the weight and limitations might be on that opinion. You have the right to express it, but others have no obligation to accept it.

I know this all too well by delivering an international podcast every wekk, and that is that I express my opinion every week on the podcast.

Sometimes, (and I am grateful) that many agree, but I cannot allow myself to get angry when someone disagrees. You see that is their right as well. Because  I profess it, does not make it true.

My hope this week is this: If you have something to say, say it. Remember however that everyone else’s right might be to disagree.

Don’t be disappointed, don’t be angry, just realize that everyone has an opinion.

How we react to disagreement really speaks volumes about our character.

Think about it.





This week I am writing about boundaries. There are many boundaries we encounter everyday on the job and in life.

Boundaries are  interesting things. We can explore them, expand them, build them and sometimes stretch them for good or bad.

My point is to try to get you to think critically about boundaries. How can you expand your professional FD boundaries. You can push yourself, you can train, you can take classes you can do everything you can to challenge these boundaries. You see in many ways boundaries are considered limits.They can be legal, perceived, or physical.

Overcoming any personal shortcoming can be considered overcoming a boundary.

One of the things I want to talk about is what do you set for boundaries? Will you stoop to personal negative attacks with those who have differing opinions from yours? Will you make fun and demean others? You see every day, everyone can see your boundaries, that maybe you cannot.

The way you treat others, the friends you hang out with, the mannerisms you display, all display your boundaries to others.

This week, make sure you understand the boundaries of your organization, the boundaries of law, the limitations of your training and experience, but most of all take a look in the mirror during some quiet time. See if you can see the boundaries that others see in you.