The Case Study Approach to Training & Education in Our Profession

On 12 June 2020, a fire department responded to a structure fire at a multi-family dwelling. The three-hour incident displaced 40 residents and resulted in injuries to three firefighters who responded to the incident. The incident garnered news coverage across multiple media platforms. Additionally, several fire service media platforms also mentioned the incident with numerous comments from fire service personnel.

The case study approach is an effective method for evaluating real world issues, applications, and best practices. It is used in academic institutions and business communities as a vehicle for influencing learning and enhancing business acumen. From a fire service perspective, reviewing significant incidents from across the profession allows company officers an opportunity to assess current best practices and policies in his/her organization; enhance his/her technical competency for all hazard types; and to serve as a platform for training/education opportunities at the company and battalion levels.

When developing a lesson plan using the case study approach, valuable resources include NIOSH line of duty death reports (LODD), state investigation reports, and Fire Near Miss reports. Topic areas for review and discussion should include the following:

• Overview of the incident
• Overview of similar incidents that may have occurred in your organization
• Discussion on specific buildings and locations in your jurisdiction like the case study that is being referenced
• Tactics and task levels activities that were executed
• Tactics and task levels activities that your agency would have performed and expected if this incident occurred in your jurisdiction
• Lessons learned
• Policy and SOG needs
• Hands on training needs
• Educational needs
• Incident management training/education needs

The case study approach is very versatile. In addition to being an effective learning tool for all hazard types, it is also influential in enhancing management and leadership skills at the company officer or fire service instructor level. As fire service instructors, we play an important role in firefighter safety and overall company level success. Use the tools and applications available to you as learning enhancements!


Demond Simmons, ISFSI Publications Committee

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