Training Beyond Hooks & Hoses: Are You Training On Policy?

The session “Training Beyond Hooks and Hoses” asks the question, “Are you training on policy?” Why is this an important question? Training on policy is an important part of organizational excellence because it helps ensure that members of our agencies are meeting organizational expectations. 

Stop and think about your own perspective of your agency’s policy manual. Generally, most of us only interact with the policy manual three times in our career:

• When we are hired

• When we are testing for promotion

• When we get into trouble (usually to find out how bad it’s going to be)

A few agencies are currently training their members on policy. But for most of us, this isn’t the case. 

Generally, we spend a great deal of time training on operational tasks because we have high expectations from the organization to perform these tasks effectively and efficiently on the fire ground. 

But, doesn’t the same expectation apply for compliance with department policy? 

During the session, we will talk about several key points including:

• Definitions of different policy documents (Policy, SOP, SOG, Standing Orders, and others)

• Different policy training methods

• The advantages of providing policy training

• How policy training enhances organizational excellence

The importance of policy training should not be underestimated. Members of an organization generally want to know what the agency expects of them and are willing to comply with policy. Generally, firefighters will not willingly violate policy. Instead, many times, policy infractions are caused by a lack of awareness of policies for a given situation or a lack of understanding of the organizations expectations outlined by an applicable policy. 

Knowledge of an agency’s policy is a necessary part of keeping your members informed about what they are expected to do. But policy training should do more than just expose them to the policy. It should teach them what the policy says and how to apply that policy to their work. Only when you provide the application of the policy to the work they do each day can you expect your members to fully understand and comply with the policy. 

Many fire agencies today strive to achieve organizational excellence. Ensuring that regular policy training is part of your training plan and providing a quality policy training product to your agency’s members is a crucial step towards that goal.

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