I don`t have enough time in a day to train all of our personnel; therefore, I cannot afford to waste time giving a class or drill to a crew that is not interested in the topic. Consequently, the Yakima (WA) Fire Department developed the “Training by Appointment” program.

About two weeks before the first of each month, I send each station a list of schools and drills that I will conduct, based on request. I keep each drill or class outline in its own folder, along with handouts and teaching aids. The stations keep course materials in a three-ring binder.

Classes offered are pertinent to season-related skills, such as “Pump Testing Basics” and “Winter Driving Techniques.”

I have found that many officers lack the confidence to just stand up and give a class. It also seems that drills and classes get put off until the officer can sit down and prepare a rough outline. These officers jump at the chance to have someone else make up the course and present the school or drill. I always have an interested audience in my classes. After all, they invited me to come to give the class.

The course folders will provide a re-source for my planning of future sessions. When I leave the training division, they will enable my successor to maintain and build on the program without missing a beat.

I now have to schedule time for myself each month, or I will have none. The officers have learned it is “First come, first served” for these classes, and I am basically booked up for the coming month.


We developed some guidelines for the program, listed below, which are disseminated to the stations in our “Informational Bulletin.”

Only company officers can make or break appointments.

Appointments can be made anytime, but I will be at my desk from 0800 to 0830.

Appointments will be taken as soon as the list of schools and drills is distributed for the month.

Officers must make their own arrangements for replacement companies to cover while their crews are drilling.

If a class is interrupted by a call, I will remain until the time allotment is up. If you want the remainder of the class, you must reschedule.

Once a class or drill is in session, I will allow no interruptions except emergency calls.

I will assist you if you would like to give the class yourself. I will sit in to offer aid or will merely provide lesson plans on request.


Crews were given the following “tips” initally.

“I need ideas for schools and drills. I will be conducting eight or nine of these per month.

“Don`t overload. I don`t intend to schedule all drills and schools every month. If you do two or three, I will be impressed.

“This is only a tool for you to use if you wish to use it. All other training days and `quickie` drills remain in effect.

“This program only affects you if you want it to.”


Following are some examples of the course offering announcements sent to the stations. Note that some offerings may be a bit “unorthodox” for a training agenda. The goal here is to help induce the members to anticipate the arrival of these announcements each month, increasing the odds that they will read them.

February 1997


1. K.E.D. (45 minutes): Basic application and uses of this extrication device. We will apply the device in a chair and in a vehicle.

2. Basic Ropes and Knots (1 hour): Re-fresher course covering the construction of rope to mastering fireground knots. Equipment hoisting included.

3. Field Hydraulics (1 hour): A pump operator`s “basic need to know” class. Includes a demonstration of two methods of field hydraulics and practice exercises.

4. Basic Fireground Tactics (1.5 hours): First-arriving apparatus considerations from the company officer`s point of view. Video and chalk-talk. Appropriate for new or acting officers.


1. Tarps (1.5 hours): One-firefighter fold, accordion fold. We will construct a water chute and a catchall.

2. Know Your Pumper, Part I (1 hour): The first of a three-part series. It deals with the power plant. We will raise the cab on your rig and go from fan to flywheel. We may get our hands dirty.

4. Backboard Basics (1 hour): We will do several backboard applications. This is one of our most-used EMS practices.

5. Traction Splinting (30 minutes): Refresher drill on the traction splint. It`s a crime to use a pillow splint when we carry this.

March 1997


1. Radio Etiquette (45 minutes): Basic use of radios. Dos and Don`ts of the airways.

2. Securing Utilities (45 minutes): A main function of the truck company we all must know.

3. Burn Kits (1 hour): What to do with that yellow bag if we actually have a burn victim.

4. The Media (45 minutes): Friend or foe? Believe it or not, they can be our best friends. I`ll show you why and how.


1. Know Your Pumper, Part II (1 hour): We will be on our backs for this one. Pump and transfer case. We will get down and probably dirty.

2. Altitude Breathing (1 hour): When was the last time you went on air in the basket of Ladder 18? Each member will use his own face piece to breathe on the apparatus air system. You may need to do this tonight at a large fire (are you ready?). I will bring the truck to you.

3. Shoulder Loading (45 minutes): Shoulder-loading from the reverse bed seems to always bungle us up. This drill can be done inside the station.

4. Pressurized Extinguisher Refill (30 minutes): This is a good class for new crew members.

August 1997


1. Hose-Testing Basics (1.5 hours): Hose testing is scheduled for September. This class explains the process, theory, and procedures for testing hose. Amaze your friends with data collected in this class.

2. South Hill Command Contest (45 minutes): Each contestant will perform an exercise I choose. The last day to participate will be August 22. The winner will receive notoriety, respect, and a trophy.

3. Hose 101 (2 hours): This course covers construction, maintenance, and nomenclature. It will be taught at Station 5 and involves recoupling hose.

4. Hamburger Gravy (1 hour): This class is to be given only at 11:30. You will learn to make a classic hamburger gravy using the roux method. This method also makes a perfect sausage gravy. Each three-person crew will provide two pounds of hamburger, four cups of milk, four tablespoons of flour, one onion, two cloves of garlic, and one loaf of bread.


1. Know Your Pumper, Part III (1 hour): This final part deals with pump accessories. We need flashlights, creepers, and coveralls.

2. Fireground Pumping (1.5 hours): This is an exercise to really test the engineer. Your pumper will set up at the drill tower, and we will have multiple lines to multiple floors with gauges. This will test the mettle of a driver but in a good learning atmosphere.

3. Equipment Hoisting (1 hour): We will hoist by rope various pieces of equipment. We will also tie the rescue harness. If you have new probationers, this should interest you.

4. High-Rise Carry (1.5 hours): If your crew has developed a “high-rise pack,” I would like to see it in action. We will use the standpipe at the training tower to see if it works. n

DAVID A. WILLSON, a 19-year veteran of the fire service, has been a member of the Yakima (WA) Fire Department for 13 years. He is a lieutenant in the Training Division.

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