LARS AGERSTRAND is a battalion chief with Värnamo Fire & Rescue Service in Sweden. He is responsible for firefighter, officer, and instructor training. He also works with quality assessment of operational tasks on the regional and national levels. He is a regular contributor to international discussions and projects. He arranges the International Fire Instructors meeting, creates educational videos, and constructs learning management systems and other tools for firefighter development.
Agerstrand presented “Teaching Fire Science to Firefighters” on Thursday, April 23, at FDIC International 2015.
“I started my career in the Swedish military as an airport firefighter. After that, I went through the two-year training for full-time firefighters, and joined a fire service.
“Starting as a firefighter I now work as a battalion chief. Besides my job, I have a big passion for firefighting and spend much of my time learning more about it. This passion has led me to many international meetings and projects. I am now active in developing firefighting internationally and am a recognized subject matter expert in fire dynamics, fire suppression, and instruction.
PAST FDIC EXPERIENCE
“This is my second FDIC, but my first year as a presenter.”
ON DEVELOPING AND TEACHING HIS IDEAS
“Science is the process that allows us to understand our world, not just experience it and, for me, that’s the key; we need to understand fire and firefighting. I think the link between scientifically-proven knowledge and practitioners needs to be developed more to improve firefighting.”
MY TOPIC AND THE FIRE SERVICE
“Without science in firefighting, we are left with just our experiences, and those experiences can be very misleading. Science allows us to better understand what is happening, and only then can we make better predictions. With better predictions, we become more efficient and safer firefighters.”
THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF WHAT I TEACH
“Gone are the days were the instructors were the primary source of information for students. The primary role of the instructor is to help the student to critically validate information and to help them understand it. By helping the students to ask the right questions instead of giving answers, the teacher creates learning. And, by teaching critical thinking we weed out the bad information to which we are exposed.”
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FDIC EXPERIENCE
“I am most looking forward to meeting all the dedicated fire instructors from around the world.”
“We do not know what we do not know. It might sound simple, but it is profound. How can I learn if I do not know the questions I should ask? What are my mis beliefs and my gaps in knowledge? Only by asking the right questions do we challenge our beliefs and see if they hold up to scrutiny.”