Officer Development Hands-On Skills and Drills

At FDIC on Monday, March 21, Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue (MDFR) Captain Bob Carpenter offered students the content of a Hands-on Skills and Drills component of the Officer Development Program (ODP) at MDFR to confirm that the new company officer, recognized as the frontline training officer, has the requisite firemanship skill sets to evaluate, train, and improve his company.   


Carpenter began, “Getting the maximum impact out of training time is crucial, and reducing ‘fluff’ classes is more important than ever in these economic times. MDFR has instituted a Skills and Drills component to ensure that new officers are prepared and confident to supervise and train personnel in the bread-and-butter hands-on skills of company operations. The program will address some of the hurdles involved in implementing such a program and the solutions to overcome them. This workshop is a must for trainers, administrators, and training chiefs interested in breathing a new level of enthusiasm into their ODP.”


Carpenter believed that a big mistake that full-time officers and instructors make is “unrealistic objectives.” He felt that this was “the death-knell, the nail in the coffin, for most training officers. Not everyone belongs in that role.”


Carpenter also discussed the “Four P’s” of drill development: Plan, Prepare, Present, and Post-exercise critique, which covers the following:

  • Training Plans
  • Achievable objectives
  • Company vs. multicompany drills
  • Excuses heard at unsuccessful drills
  • Time constraints
  • Logistics      

Carpenter stated, “MDFR’s sheer size gives us considerable resources to provide this level of training. Many of the attendees tend to be from smaller agencies and promote fewer officers during the year. This session will promote discussion during the workshop between similarly sized departments to find solutions to implementing such a program.”


Included in the class were several videos which covered a miriad of topics such as “attention blindness.”


He concluded, “We discussed needs assessments, formulating curriculum, and planning steps for the implementation of Hands-On Skills and Drills for Officer Development. In these tough economic times, the fire service is asked to do more with less. To that end, getting the most ‘bang for the buck’ in training by addressing essential service skills is paramount. We must eliminate ‘fluff’ and prepare our officers to deliver the highest level of competence in emergency response. This program will prepare officers to do just that.”


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