Company training is the foundation for company success on the fire ground. “What qualifies as company training? How do I prepare company training? We have a training officer, I don’t need to do company training. My guys are above the level needed for basic company training.” These are all statements that I have heard related to company training, everything from the unknown to the unneeded. The fact of the matter is that strong or weak, every company needs company training.
Company training is training with one or two objectives that is designed to improve the knowledge and/or skills of the company level personnel. Company training can be conducted at the station, at the training tower or in the community. It does not necessarily need to be lead by the company officer however often times the company officer takes the reigns to make the training happen. Topics can include tool selection, SOG review, or hose line deployment but in reality can be anything that is needed/desired by the company level personnel. The key for success is to have at least one objective, a plan for the training and the necessary equipment/prop for the training to be a success.
Company training should be based off the needs of the personnel. Traditionally this needs assessment is conducted from observations noted from performance on scenes or a lack of a response, example the company has not reviewed or used buddy breathing in a significant period of time, this should be a company training. When conducting a needs assessment look at what the need is, example there is a need to deploy a fire attack line within standardized time (NFPA Standard) or there is a best practice, standardized response matrix. When these are not met there is a gap, this gap is what is desired to be bridged to through training.
Once you have identified the training needed, you need to understand the best means to achieve success with your company. It is imperative that you understand your people, what drives them, how they learn and how best to connect. Learning styles and methodology vary from person to person, recognizing this and adapting the training to include several methods will improve not only learning but more so comprehension.
When laying out company training, start with the objective. This will be what you want to achieve. Relate this objective to a best practices, standard or department SOG. Formulate the step-by-step process upon which you want your personnel to complete the objective. This step-by-step process will allow you to clearly identify where errors are occurring and interject to gain mastery towards the objective. Also, identify any necessary equipment or tools for the training, again this ensures that when you conduct the training you will have all necessary items and not fail before you start (See Item 1). These items will act as your guide for the training and the foundation for the company’s success.
With the template complete, the training can be conducted, again ensure that the students follow the steps toward mastery correcting errors or omissions as you proceed. This will correct bad behaviors before they become a habit. After completion you can evaluate the training, looking for ways to improve or any recommendations from the company.
As stated above, company training is the foundation for firefighter success, it should be a routine component of the day just as apparatus checks and physical fitness. Company training does not have to be complicated, sticking to one or two objectives will ensure mastery level comprehension and results-based training. Take the time to get out with your company and do something today that will make them better for tomorrow.