Aaron Fields, the recipient of the 2017 Fire Engineering/International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award, was honored at Thursday’s General Session in the Sagamore Ballroom. A firefighter with the Seattle (WA) Fire Department, he was named Seattle Firefighter of the Year in 2011 by his peers. He is a Washington state fire instructor and has taught at the state fire academy for recruit school and departmentwide for engine company operations training. He is the founder of the Nozzle Forward program, which has been running for 10 years and has taught more than 10,000 students in more than 300 classes in more than 35 states. He teaches hands-on training at FDIC International, Andy Fredericks Training Days, Wichita HOT, and at other seminars. He is a member of the UL/NIST Panel for Fire Streams.
The impetus to practice for what would become the Nozzle Forward program was from some early fires that did not go well. Fields developed the program to gain more mechanical advantage and “create a system rather than a grab bag of techniques.” The program is a systematic study and methodology for hoseline management, movement, and fire attack. It is a hybrid of many methods with a focus on how and why. Fields spend years studying from some of the top engine trainers in the country. The program is also an example of his ethos: “Comfort is the enemy of growth,” “Humility is the key to learning,” and “Work fixes everything; when all else fails, Just Do Work.”
Steve Pegram, president of the ISFSI, says about the selection committee’s unanimous choice of Fields: “Aaron was nominated by his peers for working to create a grassroots program to enhance and improve engine company operations. His “Nozzle Forward” approach has been widely accepted and continues to focus on its original mission of fine tuning basic nozzle firefighter skills. Aaron also shares his experience and unique approach to teaching at national fire events annually, at FDIC as a HOT instructor, and as a member of the UL Fire Attack panel. Aaron is a firefighter who has dedicated his life to being the best firefighter possible. His personal ethos guide him and his cadre of instructors with a common passion to teach and help firefighters across the country to be aggressive, but smart, firefighters.”
The award, which incorporates the Training Achievement Award previously given by Fire Engineering at the FDIC, is named for George D. Post, who was a long-time member of the ISFSI. Post was a member of the Fire Department of New York, an illustrator of fire service publications, and a developer of instructional materials; he is considered by many to be the father of visual training material used to train fire service personnel around the world.