If you’re a fire instructor, either by choice, or by “forced family fun,” I don’t have to tell you how important you are to the cultural integrity of your department. You certainly aren’t waking up every day expecting a heroic outcome or accolades galore from your leadership. You simply wake up and head to the office in order to instill value to the training system you graciously serve.
The fire service instructor is, in many cases, the most under-recognized hero. Their impact spans much farther reaches than the day to day call logs show. A department’s entire attitude can be traced back to the halls of training. The instructors within the department are establishing the training climate and their attitude is directly proportional to the attitude of those whom they are teaching. Training shouldn’t just be about improved knowledge, or skill, it should be an improved attitude toward the subject matter and training process. This is a task of great proportion.
As a fire instructor you are investing in knowledge. You don’t have to be a genius to know that knowledge is power and that is the best investment any department can make in their employees. The fire instructor ensures that the interest rate on this investment is impactful to the overall success of the employees.
Simply put, you are the mentor for the next generation. I recently heard a legendary chief say “the best thing you can do to invest in your career is become an instructor, and if you don’t want to instruct you’re in the wrong line of business.” We’ve all heard inspiring stories of success in the training department. I suspect there are hundreds more to tell. Most of them are never heard, but they center around the next generation of fire service leader. The fire instructor is dedicated to ensuring that under-achievers fly and that over-achievers stay grounded.
As a fire instructor you’re making the mundane extraordinary. When was the last time you heard someone say “I love going to school?” The fire instructor strives to invent ingenious ways to make what otherwise might be complex or dull subjects exciting. They invest their passion into their classes so that those they are training are craving more.
You can and will prevail despite the challenges. You are the master of resourcefulness in the fire service. You’re doing more with less. Budget constraints and time limitations make your job more difficult yet you’re always finding a way to ensure that the department doesn’t suffer. Your own education doesn’t stop. You’re invested in personal professional development and find creative and impactful ways to improve your teaching methodologies.
You unleash superheroes. Yes, even superheroes need mentors. The fire instructor is quietly building the everyday men and women who are training to be superheroes. They get none of the glory. And that’s ok! They aren’t waking up craving the sound of the bell or the smell of yesterday’s fire. They covet the satisfaction of knowing their superheroes are working smarter and training harder.
The resounding truth is that the fire instructor may very well be the most impactful team player of the department. Those charged with selecting and supporting this person should invest wisely in their choice, be resourceful in laying their foundation, and celebrate the superheroes the fire instructor is assembling for the department.