In the fire service, it’s imperative to commit to consistent training in order to maintain the knowledge, skills, and abilities the job requires. Additionally, firefighter training today involves planning for new risks such as active shooters and terrorist threats. To improve safety and effectiveness, firefighters need accessible, relevant training that meets state and federal training mandates.
Here are five essential training topics from FireRescue1 Academy to help your department meet training requirements and decrease risk.
#1: Firefighter Safety
The fire service is continuously addressing the issue of safety. When responding to a fire emergency, there is almost always a risk of injury. Without safe working conditions and safety-conscious personnel, departments can face an excess of injuries and even line-of-duty deaths. Creating a culture that emphasizes firefighter safety is critical.
Safety is not a standalone training topic; it should be woven into all training. Specific focus areas include:
- Firehouse security and safety
- Highway scene safety
- Fire detection, protection, and suppression systems
- Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Hydration on the fireground
#2: Fireground Preparation
Preparation is the foundation for operating at a fire emergency efficiently and effectively. Fire department leaders and training captains have an obligation to ensure firefighters are adequately prepared for operations on the fireground. It takes preparation, training, and implementation to ensure fireground functions are prioritized and done safely.
Such training should include:
- Performing a V-E-I-S operation
- Fireground habits
- Observation of fireground conditions and building construction
- Salvage and overhaul
- Understanding the wildland structure environment
#3: Hazards and Hazmat
Every region has hazardous materials at fixed sites or in transit. Although hazmat operations are low-frequency events, they are high-risk. It’s crucial that all firefighters understand those risks as well as their role and responsibility on scene. The increased awareness of chemical hazards in daily living, combined with the ongoing threat of terrorism, requires fire departments to provide necessary training in hazmat response.
Hazmat incident training should include:
- Decontamination techniques
- How to recognize and respond to a hazardous substance
- The proper use of chemical protective equipment (CPE)
- The impact hazmat suits can have on the responder
- The types of potential terrorist attacks
#4: Health and Wellness
Firefighting has a detrimental effect on the human body, and over time, fire and EMS work can have a significant impact on mental health too. A comprehensive health and wellness program helps reduce the fiscal and physical impact of firefighter injuries, illnesses, and even death. Extending beyond fitness, the health and wellbeing of firefighters should include nutrition and focus on behavioral health and stress management.
Health and wellness training is a necessity and should include:
- The mental health challenges firefighters face
- Essential components to firefighter workouts
- Personal health and safety
- Firefighter PTSD
- Suicide prevention
#5: Emergency Vehicle Operator
Operators of emergency vehicles have a heavy responsibility to provide a safe response to and from a scene. Driving and operating emergency vehicles is a challenging and dangerous duty performed requiring a complete understanding of how the forces of nature and physics work both for and against the safe operation of emergency vehicles. Training is the best way to prevent accidents and can help ensure drivers understand their duties and expectations when operating the vehicle.
To enhance the safety of responders, driver training should include:
- Driving precautions that increase everyone’s safety
- Emergency vehicle characteristics
- The legal aspects of emergency vehicle operations
- The importance of having a driving plan
- Defensive driving techniques
The challenge in the fire service is not in identifying topics to train on, it’s prioritizing time and resources to cover the many subjects that can lead to high-risk situations for firefighters. These five topics are a great place to start.
Looking for resources to provide such training? FireRescue1 Academy offers full-length courses for many of these topics.