Imitation may be the best form of flattery, but it’s not the best solution for the fire service. It also appears from a post on the Arrowood Curve that it may not be the best for training programs in general. The post discussed the importance of adding value to the training programs that we try to imitate.
Having the opportunity to attend regional or national training conferences can be very beneficial for firefighters and instructors. The exposure allows you to network with fellow fire service members from across the country. We can learn from these contacts about new equipment, training programs, and best practices. A cost effective solution for smaller departments is to require conference attendees to bring back the knowledge gained to train the rest of the department.
Instructors and departments though need to be weary of taking a training program from across the country and applying it locally. Just because something is working in one department doesn’t mean that it will work in yours. The lesson plan may have been designed around a department in a highly urbanized area with minimum engine staffing of 5 personnel. Obviously, training a rural volunteer fire department from this lesson plan could be disastrous. You need to fully understand the context that the program was developed in and ensure that it fits with your department before deciding to use it.
If sufficient variation exists between your context and the instructor’s, an opportunity exists for you to add value to the program. Rather than taking the program and applying it to your department carte blanche, do some research. See what departments like yours are doing. Find other training programs that are similar to the one you’d like to imitate. Take the best pieces of all of these programs and make them fit your department.
Don’t settle for what is out there. Personalize it and add value. Then be happy when someone returns the favor.