It’s an interesting, fun and challenging time to be an instructor or training officer in the fire service. There are so many “system overloads” going on right now with new tactical, safety, operational and cultural informational resources that seem to appear on the desk, email or a social media post every day. The great, good and not-so-good of that are that we have great access to research driven resources and tests that are giving us more tools for proper and effective decision making. Good opportunities to collaborate with departments and other instructors from around the world are alive and well, especially through the ISFSI which is where the instructors are. Good opportunities become great opportunities when you interact and question posters of information and consider how their information and opinions can help improve your department or can be used there. I try to consider blog posts, Facebook posts and email thread to be generic or thought provoking information that I use to see where it “fits” or how we can use it. The not-so-good of the information resource overload is the divide or the lines that are being drawn as a result. Everyone has access to videos, photos and incident reports and some can be quick to judge and cast stones at other firefighters or departments based on distance delivered information. I watched a social media post go wild recently as a fireground video was posted, many authors had fire department Maltese’s as their photo and some of the derogatory information bashing the crews operating was very disappointing. Watching from afar, we don’t have access to all the information that was available thus we should not be quick to judge. Granted there is always room for improvement and we see basic skill level issues present, but let’s make them opportunities instead of weaknesses. You don’t have to take a “side”, however, you owe it to yourself to review all of the resources and weigh them against your situation and resources to make your best and educated decision. Being safe today is about being smart.
Instructors are at the center of this overload. You are the one that is looked to for guidance and answers to questions. Do your homework, read, listen, write and talk to other instructors and the people putting together the resources. A lot of money is being invested into our safety and is intended to help us operate more efficiently. Use it to your advantage and take it all in and form your own decisions. We can change culture, change accepted norms, improve morale and move forward instead of treading water. But we have to want to, instructors are part of the solution, and your must know that the hard work you put into being a professional and educating yourself to educate your members will pay dividend. Maybe not today or tonight, but then again, maybe it will pay off today or tonight.