30 Minutes of Training Per Week is Unfair and “Unreal”

Running Against The Wind

Running Against The Wind

I had just finished reading a depressing thought I found on facebook by Christopher Naum:

“There’s an awful lot of time, energy and resources being committed and directed towards fire service safety. Is anyone really listening? Does anyone really care?” Are we just running against the wind?

Almost immediately after reading that, I find out that a downstate Illinois fire protection district has a problem. Some of their firefighters do not have the proper qualifications for responding to and working a structure fire.

“I see there are firefighters with zero hours in training,” one trustee said. “Either you are a firefighter or you’re not.”

Most were the older guys, retired, and unable or unwilling to commit the time and energy needed to meet the requirements set forth by the state of Illinois.

According to the Illinois Fire Protection Act, firefighters are required to meet a minimum of 24 hours of training per year.

I did some quick math. My 3rd grade daughter confirmed my calculations. That’s two hours a month. 30 minutes a week.

Tell me there aren’t firefighters out there that are donning equipment with which they are not completely familiar, advancing the wrong size line with the wrong nozzle into a ‘burning box’ just waiting to collapse, unable to recognize the deadly warning signs of a catastrophic fire event for which their equally untrained buddies will have to come in and effect a rescue they are ill-prepared to attempt potentially killing them all.

Please tell me this is a unique situation. TELL ME!

Recognizing the liability of untrained firefighters on the fireground, the trustees of this fire protection district are considering their chief’s proposal to form a second tier of membership- call it an auxiliary role.

Keep the guys active, but don’t put them into a position where they could hurt themselves or others.  There are other things these guys could do in a support role.

Sounds like a great idea, right?

You’ve read this far, you earned your payoff:

After the news of the proposed change appeared on the FireRescue1 website, one lonely comment appeared. It’s so bizarre; I’m not quite able to accept that it wasn’t posted as a facetious remark. Here it is, by ‘tommy517’:

“I think it is unreal what law makers are trying to require volunteer firefighters training for responding to calls. I know they feel it is for firefighter safety they come up with some of the stuff, and anything to make it safer is better. However, someone who has done it for years should be given some credit for years of service. I’m a volunteer and I love it. There isn’t anything much better to me than running on fire and rescue calls. I took all the required classes I needed at the time. Now they are wanting to come up with new stuff all the time. When I started I was a student in high school. Now I have a family and work full time. Its hard to get all the “new” trainings that are out there. I wish I had the time to go and take all the new classes and find out what is new in the fire service. With a job and family now its hard to respond to calls sometimes let alone run here and there for classes. Really what has changed? We still gear up get on the truck and put the wet stuff on the red stuff…”

Like he said, “Really, what has changed?’”

Seriously, folks. How many line of duty injuries and worse do we have to endure before this kind of mindset changes?

30 minutes a week…

3 Comments

  • SMITTY says:

    I guess I live in a bubble! I thought training was the norm. My department holds training drills every Wednesday evening and the 2nd Sunday every month. We usually train for 2 hours on Wednesdays and 3 hours on Sunday drills. The department requires every firefighter to attend 80% of these drills.

    Isn’t true, that day you think you know everything about the fire service is the day you should retire?

  • SMITTY says:

    I guess I live in a bubble! I thought training was the norm. My department holds training drills every Wednesday evening and the 2nd Sunday every month. We usually train for 2 hours on Wednesdays and 3 hours on Sunday drills. The department requires every firefighter to attend 80% of these drills.

    Isn’t true, that day you think you know everything about the fire service is the day you should retire?

  • SMITTY says:

    I guess I live in a bubble! I thought training was the norm. My department holds training drills every Wednesday evening and the 2nd Sunday every month. We usually train for 2 hours on Wednesdays and 3 hours on Sunday drills. The department requires every firefighter to attend 80% of these drills.

    Isn’t true, that day you think you know everything about the fire service is the day you should retire?

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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago

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