What the Best Fire Instructors Do

Research on the best teachers applies to fire service instructors, too, writes Edward A. Tracey.

In 2004, Ken Bain, a professor at New York University, wrote a book on effective college teaching, What the Best College Teachers Do. The “best” teachers contribute to meaningful learning; they’re not just the ones who students simply liked the most or who gave easy As. Successful teaching is “not if students can pass our examinations but whether their education has a sustained, substantial and positive influence on the way they think, act and feel.”1 Bain’s research focused on 100 teachers with whom most students were highly satisfied with the teaching and inspired to continue learning even after the class ended. Although this influence and its effect are difficult to measure, it means that intellectually and educationally, the teacher and the course hit the mark for the student.

Bain’s intense research required more than a decade to uncover the elements of the best teachers. Common themes found in his research and the fire service literature can help build a model of a good fire and emergency services instructor. Since the fire service’s highest compliment is to consider a firefighter a “good” firefighter, our exemplary fire instructor is a “good” instructor.

Bain’s research applies equally to the lead instructor developing a multiple-week course and to the fire officer designing a 15-minute firehouse tailboard drill. Bain’s research reported that the “best” teachers know the subject matter extremely well; take teaching seriously and prepare; expect more from students; encourage students to think, grapple with ideas, and examine issues; treat students fairly; monitor students’ progress; and evaluate students’ efforts.

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I reviewed fire service instruction-related articles and books by Hoevelmann,2 Guzzi,3 Menard,4 Avcsec,5 Crothers,6 Carrigan,7 Burson,8 Daley,9 the International Fire Service Training Association,10 and Reeder and Joos11 for overlapping themes and characteristics aligning with Bain’s research and also reviewed current research on desirable instructional traits. Note that I use the terms training, training session, course, drill, and class interchangeably; the instruction characteristics and effective teaching considerations apply to all fire service educational settings. The following characteristics answer a slightly modified question from Bain, “What do good fire instructors do?”

Good Traits

Know their subjects. Good fire instructors know the subject or skillset they are teaching inside and out. They have researched the topic and can anticipate students’ questions, straddle the two worlds between theory and practice, and explain concepts in understandable terms. They keep relevant and up-to-date on their material. They know the difference between being certified to teach a subject and being qualified as a subject matter expert, going above the minimum standard and being dedicated to understanding the subject and to instructing the topic. They are lifelong learners with a lifetime commitment to pursuing knowledge for personal or professional reasons and desire to keep learning more about the subject (photo 1).

(1) The best instructors know their subject and stay relevant and up-to-date. Here, the instructor demonstrates a method of measuring the slope of a collapsed floor for building structural collapse shoring. (Photo by Adam Zebrak.)

Experienced. They have credibility in the subject they are teaching; they have done it before and will not get in over their heads by instructing on skills that they know nothing about. This can be difficult, since many fire service instructors may have to teach multiple subjects in the all-hazard arena.

Relate to students. They can relate to their audience, adapting the instruction to local department size, the community makeup, the staffing models, and the available resources of the audience.

Passionate. The best instructors are passionate about firefighting, conveying their instruction, and the art of teaching well. Passion in the classroom or on the drill ground is contagious. Compare an instructor who is an avid student of the subject he’s teaching vs. one who is apathetic and faced with presenting a boring topic. Passionate delivery in the classroom fuels student motivation and enthusiasm. Passionate teachers do not teach for the notoriety, for the money, or to use the classroom as a bully pulpit to air grievances. Ideally, they want their students to learn and improve. They care about the subject and the students, going the extra step for the students and for the class. Before the training session, they ensure that the class is exciting and has engaging lessons.

Humble. Humility is the freedom from pride or arrogance; we were all students with a tremendous knowledge gap once and were lucky to have had a good teacher, a mentor, or a learning experience when we did not know something. Good instructors know when to say “I don’t know” but don’t leave it there; they point their students in the right direction or offer to seek out the information for them. They follow up when they do not know. They share relevant professional failures when the circumstances and the lessons gleaned can assist students.

Prepared. A common metric says that it takes about two hours of preparation for one hour of face-to-face instruction. This may vary widely with the topic and the instructor’s experience. Teaching is a great responsibility; the best instructors practice the training sessions beforehand. They research the topic and the emerging instructional methods to keep the class interesting. They craft their lesson plans to keep them on track. After, they note what went right in the training session and what needed improvement and reflect on the notes to improve the next session. They prepare to teach the class at a pace that allows for synthesis and absorption and build in time for the students to apply and practice what they have learned.

Good instructors do not wing it; they plan for the class and show up at the training session early to ensure all items are in working order. Given the trend toward using electronic technology for presentations, they realize they must have a plan B and even a plan C in place in case technology does not work correctly or another unforeseen event hampers their ability to present.

Approachable. The best instructors allow questions and don’t shut down students who might have trouble getting the material. They don’t belittle or disengage with students who may be off track. Experienced instructors know that students may want to ask questions during class breaks because they do not want to do so in front of their colleagues. They understand they may need to come to class early and stay late to assist a student in achieving the learning goals.

Creative. Creative instructors are constantly searching for additional teaching methods and are motivated to create other ways to teach a lesson that may better engage the students. They can modify the session based on the number of students or the resources available to ensure an unforgettable learning experience.

Punctual. A common tenet of adult learning theory is that adults have competing responsibilities and so their time is valuable.12 Good instructors ensure that everything is in order for the session—the instructional media, the demonstration props, the fire equipment, and the fire apparatus. They make sure that the facility is ready for the students and the class sessions start and end on time.

Have fun. The best instructors have fun while they teach, creating judgment-free and open environments. They balance the fun atmosphere with the expectation that the student will work hard and learn.

Inclusive/accepting. Good instructors realize that there is not one type of student. Students come into fire service training courses at all ages and from all lifestyles. Those in the training session most likely learn in a different way than the instructor learned, and the instructor acknowledges that students have different learning styles and learn at various speeds.

Learning does not occur in a vacuum devoid of individual learner characteristics. Who people are influences how they learn. Consider the following student characteristics among others when preparing training: ability, age, beliefs, ethnicity, experience, gender/gender identity, linguistics, national origin, race, religion/or not, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

Recall your favorite instructors or teachers. Which of the characteristics above did they possess? Although it may be impossible to possess every characteristic, you should know which ones are most relevant to improving your teaching practice.

Putting It All Together

Although most of the guidelines listed below are based on evidence, others are tips and tricks that get results. Some have been extensively tested, studied, and written about; others are just good ideas and shared as conventional wisdom.

Before the Class

Why are we here, and what is the objective? This is the first question that good instructors should ask to clearly identify the lesson/course objective and the students’ expectations. You can tell whether the students are attending the class voluntarily or are required to as a certification or job requirement. Students may also be taking the class for knowledge acquisition or skill development.

Knowing the learning objective is critical; it determines what the students will learn, how well they will do it, and what they will have to do to accomplish it. It is the framework and boundary line for the training session or drill. Without a written objective, the next steps in developing a lesson will have no direction. The objective sets the course for the lesson plan, the audiovisual materials, the site requirements, the time allocations, and the equipment needs.

Design the training session. Design the class to center on problem solving, since adult learners are more apt to learn in that context than in a lectured delivery of facts, figures, and rules.13 You may use a “canned” program with minor revisions for your audience or build a session based on your knowledge and expertise. The spectrum for decent class design is broad.

(2) The best instructors incorporate several engaging instruction methods to appeal to the various senses. Here, a student performs a knot tying skill as the instructor coaches. (Photo by Adam Zebrak.)

What will the course entail? Is it a 20-minute training session behind the ladder truck or a 110-hour, new firefighter training program? Focus the training session on a single concept related to relevant problems. After you have offered enough single-concept sessions, you may want to transition into sessions that demand incorporating multiple skills or different layers of knowledge.

Develop training sessions that are engaging and interesting and that involve the students on multiple levels. You can tailor engagement to the different knowledge domains (physical, cognitive, and emotional) by focusing on hands-on skills, knowledge attainment, or appealing to the students’ sense of pride or well-being. Engaging instructional practices should emphasize involving multiple senses in the training session including hearing, seeing, doing, and so on. Surveys and experience show that a large percentage of our firefighters prefer hands-on and how-to content; design the session accordingly.

Finally, ensure that the training transfers to the workplace, which answers the inevitable student question, “Why do we need to know this?”

Develop the lesson for differing learning styles. As you design the session, consider that not everybody learns the same way. You may have heard of preferential learning styles like visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. While the research refutes the value of tailoring instruction to clear-cut “style” distinctions,14 a good training lesson design will account for the different ways people consume information, using several engaging methods of instruction that appeal to various senses. Consider using fireground videos, dispatch communication audio, hands-on skillsets, or an article to read as a small example of engaging content that appeals to multiple learning styles15 (photo 2).

Audience analysis. This is a critical component of ensuring that the lesson meets the students’ needs.11 What do you know about your students? By tailoring the class to the audience, you increase your chances of delivering a memorable training session. The experience will be most helpful to students if it aligns with their personal and professional goals for the program.

Analyzing the audience will likely not be a big deal for the line fire officer who has a crew that has been together for a while, but it may require more investigation for a guest speaker. Reach out to the fire department contact early or design and distribute a short, Web-based, precourse survey to the attendees before the session.

Present factual, current information. Ensure that the information you present is vetted and supported in fire service texts, reports, training programs, and fire department policies and guidelines. In addition to liability issues, you may confuse students if you are teaching them to a standard that they do not recognize or one to which they may never be held.

What is the course’s shelf life? All courses and drills eventually become outdated and need to be refreshed to be in line with current understandings, or maybe the content is fine but the instruction method or media must be reexamined. Do you need to refresh the training program you plan to use?

Make sure the facility is prepared. Drill site problems are very frustrating for the instructor and the students but are surmountable. Before each class, confirm that the learning environment is prepared, the room temperature is conducive to learning, the technology is up and ready to go, and there are provisions for the students’ (and instructor’s) basic physiological needs. These provisions include implementing appropriate safety measures for the session, scheduling breaks, and providing appropriate food and beverages.

During the Class

Training safety. Conduct the course with students’ and participants’ safety in mind. Follow the basic policies and procedures as written to create a safe and comfortable learning environment. Your prime motivation is helping the students to learn while keeping them safe.

Monitor weather conditions when conducting outdoor sessions, ensuring that all safety equipment is ready and works. Ensure that protocols are in place should an injury occur. Before any training starts, confirm that the students and the other instructors are wearing and using the appropriate level of personal protective equipment.

Audience analysis (the in-class opportunity). If you didn’t complete a precourse student analysis, the beginning of a class is a great opportunity to get to know students. Use introduction exercises as an icebreaker such as going around the room and asking the students, “Tell me about yourself and why you are taking this class” or giving each student a handout or worksheet for you to review later.

Set rules and expectations. Let the students know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. Consider building a handout or course information sheet with your expectations for the students to review. Have a sign-off at the end so that they can add a signature to confirm that they understand the rules and expectations of the course or drill. Make clear your availability before, during, after, and outside the class to assist them in meeting the learning objectives.

Leave your ego at the door. We are helping the students to learn; situations and people try us, but this is still your responsibility. Work within your abilities to facilitate learning—don’t just break down students or show them how wrong they are.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t bluff or make one up. Students will remember, and that will reduce your instructional credibility. Point them in the right direction to find the information or offer to find it for them and follow up.

Engage and help the learner. Students in any class, regardless of generation or type, will learn more effectively if that class gains their attention and makes sense to them personally and professionally. Engagement entails appealing to the students in the training session. How many senses will they be using in the class, and how will their brain be made to work?

Use a good balance of instructional methods. Present information in a way that grabs their attention and keeps it. We have commonly accepted notions of the “boring” class session—death by PowerPoint®, a monotone voice, too many war stories, or all theory. To gain and keep their attention, appeal to multiple senses and learning domains, using practices such as storytelling, video clips, skills drills, demonstrations, and interactive technology.

The instructors who have held your attention likely used humor or a well-told story in the classroom. Adults bring a cornucopia of experiences to the classroom; share your relevant experiences and draw on the students’ experiences to help with getting across the course objectives.

You may be able to incorporate other methods including class discussions and even, with some ground rules, debate! Strive to connect the ideas that you draw out of the course materials to the discussions that you are leading. Protect the minority opinions to keep any classroom activity civil.

Classroom management. Most of the time, the class will run without many hiccups, but problems will arise; handle them appropriately. Disruptive behaviors include argumentativeness, excessive talking or interruptions, and disruptions including unsilenced electronic devices and other distracting behaviors. “LEAST” is a relevant acronym for dealing with the trouble-making or disruptive student and is found in the New York State Fire and Emergency Services Instructor curriculum.16 It recalls the progressive steps to use when confronted with problematic students: Leave it alone, Eye contact, Address the issue verbally, Stop the class and discuss with the student, Terminate the student from the course. Unfortunately, you may be forced to remove a student if problems persist. Don’t punish those who came to learn by allowing disruptions to continue.

If you must deal severely with a classroom dispute, remember to document, document, and document the significant issues and facts of the interaction. My experience is that we are reluctant to write up a colleague. But if a significant problem occurs, you must document it. Chiefs and training officers will want to know why one of their firefighters has been terminated from a class. A written record is your defense.

Provide feedback that helps the students learn. From the onset of the class, the students need to know what they are to accomplish by the end of the class. Feedback lets them know how they are doing along the way. Informal feedback is as simple as coaching or encouraging students through a skill or asking the students how they are doing to take an on-the-spot temperature reading of the course. This might give you a measurement of how things are going and enable you to craft feedback. Formal feedback is often planned out and written, such as skill sheets or rubrics that measure the students’ progress. These, along with grades, scores, and ratings, serve as formal feedback with which you can indicate to the students their progress on skills or knowledge development.

Although adults learn from making mistakes, it is hard for adults to fail; they take their errors personally. Adult students enter the learning environment with an intact ego and a working reputation—they come with a part of them that can be damaged or lost. Make sure you foster an environment where initially mistakes are tolerated and corrected so the student can perform better.

Make students think critically. Go beyond the “teaching” concept of simply force-feeding students information so they can regurgitate it later. Pull back the layers of concepts and ideas, calling for the students to reason from the evidence and to find answers in the relevant materials, policies, and standards. Task the students to think and participate in topical discussions and case studies. They engage the students in a process of thinking deeply about the information.

Explain well. Exemplary instructors not only possess a good grasp of the knowledge, but they understand the peripheral information to explain it to students well. Good instructors can decide when to explain a topic with humor or whimsy and when to cover a topic with seriousness and gravity. Some suggestions for explaining fire and emergency services topics include the following:

  • Working from known subject matter to unknown subject matter.
  • Working from simple concepts to hard concepts.
  • Showing the whole idea before breaking it down into the basic components. After showing the basic components, build toward the whole idea once again.
  • Integrating new information with what the students have already learned or what they already know.

Get students to talk and participate. This engagement with the course material occurs during the class. Nobody wants to sit in a straight lecture for three hours. Considering that advertising research indicates a new student’s attention span may now be less than 10 seconds,17 you must incorporate activities that capture the students’ attention and draw them into participation. Build into your class sessions activities that allow students to discuss ideas, practice with equipment, explore issues, or devise solutions to problems related to the course material.

One such engagement technique is the Think-Pair-Square-Share practice (it can also be pared down and used as a Think-Pair-Share activity). A question is asked or a problem is posed to the entire class; each student is asked to think and reflect on the question for about one minute. The student is paired with the student next to him, and the pair discuss their answers for a set time and come up with a collaborative answer. The pair could join up with another pair of students and have a four-way discussion to arrive at a common answer to share with the class. The technique works with all sort of fire service questions—including pump discharge pressures, first-arriving tactics, and the qualities of good fire instructors.

Use questions and questioning techniques. Use the arsenal of engaging questions at your disposal and patiently wait for an answer. This facilitates student learning through answering questions and questioning answers. Use questioning techniques to provoke thinking, stimulate recall, challenge beliefs, confront opinions, draw implications, and promote conclusions.18

Remember, you do not always have to have all the answers. It may make for a more powerful student learning experience if you direct the students to find the answers themselves.

Before the class ends, you have one more opportunity to solicit feedback from the students. Ask concluding questions but not necessarily verbal, direct questions; you can use classroom polling technology, an index card, or a follow-up e-mail or survey. Concluding questions can include the following: What have we learned today? What questions have we not answered? What do we still need to know?

Help students become competent. Remember, your primary obligation in instructing is to facilitate learning. Students will make mistakes; learning through making mistakes is powerful for adult learners. Have the patience to allow students to learn on their own and support them to succeed through guided instruction and coaching. Make sure that the class or training session has included ample time for practice and skill development. Take a moment to reacquaint yourself with the adage, “Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”

Avoid the following pitfalls:

Death by PowerPoint®. Illustrative displays that enhance your message are extremely valuable; your audience might expect them. But the fancy slide show cannot simultaneously be the message, the activity, and the sole engagement practice. You are delivering the training session; use technology to enhance your points and to engage the students.

Reading from the slide or lesson plan. The slide deck should not be a cut-and-pasted version of your lesson plan with every line from your notes or the textbook. You are the one delivering the training session. Use the slides to enhance your message, not be the message.

In turning your back to the audience to read a slide, you have disengaged with them. If you are reading slides to the audience, you are wasting their time. You could just give the whole presentation as a handout to read at their leisure!

Disorganization. We have all had instructors who were not prepared for class and seemed to be off their game or shooting from the hip. It is not very hard to tell when someone has not put any time into the class prior to the start or was not focused on making the training session a good learning experience. Don’t fall into that trap. Make sure you give the training session the time and effort students deserve (photo 3).

Losing sight of the learning objectives. Don’t lose sight of the learning objective; it sets the framework for the entire session. It outlines who is receiving the instruction, what they are going to be able to do at the end, how well they will do it, and to what standard they will be held. Build the training around the objective, and do not waver from this statement. The more you drift from the objective, the more likely you are to find yourself unprepared for the lesson or to put the students in an unsafe situation.

Arriving late and leaving early. Your students’ time is valuable. If the students have marked out a period of time from their lives for the class, you should make sure that session is rewarding and conduct it in the most professional manner possible. Fill the time with relevant information that assists them in achieving their learning goals. Do not deprive them of this by managing the time irresponsibly. Realize that you are a source of information and assistance. Students may show up early for help or may want to stay late. Manage these expectations within your own personal time constraints.

(3) The best instructors ensure that the drill will go off smoothly and meet the learning objectives. Two instructors preplan rope rescue rigging and consider proper safety measures before a rope rescue drill. (Photo by author.)

After the Class

Just because the proverbial class bell has rung does not mean that you are done improving your professional practice as a fire instructor. The time after the course is completed is a crucial time to take stock of the training session to gauge how it went and how it can be improved.

Student feedback. Use a standard course survey to identify what went right and what can be improved. Reviewing these surveys will help you to make the class better! Beware of outliers—the single feedback form that is either heaping praise or providing a slashing attack on your teaching style. If only one person replies that the class was bad but the other comments indicate the session was average to great, realize that the class went well but that one person did not find value. One bad review is not a signal that you need to rewrite the class or end your career as an instructor! Don’t let the good reviews go to your head or the bad ones bruise you too deeply.

Fellow instructor feedback. This is powerful for improving your instructional practice. Feedback is the review of the process that is sought out and wanted; criticism is that which does not make you better and is unwanted. Plan a formal co-instructor feedback process from the onset of the course.

Unfortunately, most training sessions that are co-taught end up, at most, with a quick meeting where “good jobs” and “I wouldn’t change a thing” are thrown around. Upset the apple cart a bit and ask for honest, professional feedback on the session from the colleagues you trust and who will be frank to improve your instructional practice. Ask the following: What went right? Did we accomplish the objectives? Was the class engaging? What can we improve?

You may devise more specific questions directly related to your topic that will help you improve relative to your individual situation. An even better feedback mechanism is incorporating a skill sheet or rubric, in line with the fire instructor curriculum or based on evidence from research on teaching and learning, to offer feedback to each instructor at the end of the course.

Journal. Maintaining a class journal is an aspect of reflective teaching that I incorporated into my practice a few years ago. I use a college-ruled composition notebook for each class to jot down course-related notes, thoughts on things that did and did not work, suggestions for improvements, and other on-the-spot ideas. The journal serves as a hard copy of to-do items, a record of course progress, and a list of any issues that need to be addressed. The journal allows instructors to review the notes after a class to plan improvements for the next offering and to reflect on the process of how they teach the class.

After each class, while still in the classroom or on the training ground, I conduct a mental hot wash of the experience and answer in the journal: What went well? What did not seem to work? What can I do to improve? What can I add or take out? What needs to be done before the next session?

Video your presentations. Recording your presentation for your review is a great professional development tool. You might not need to record the entire training session, but record at least a 30-minute excerpt to get an idea of what you look like as an instructor. Review the video to observe your teaching. Warning: It might be tough to watch the first time! First, watch the video in real time from the beginning to the end without stopping and make notes. Watch it again but on mute; watch the visual images only and make notes. Observe your movements and gestures while instructing. Review it a third time, listening only to the audio without the video. Turn around or blank out the video. Make notes on how your vocal delivery sounds and how audio worked for the students.

Principles to Always Consider

Don’t just teach; facilitate learning. Sometimes, you may need to present new information; other times, you may have to let students explore, make mistakes, and arrive at conclusions on their own. Do you know when to use each mode? Identify when it is prudent to serve as a “sage on the stage” or to be the “guide on the side.”

Be a lifelong learner. Engage in learning for the sake of learning, to learn more about a subject to really understand it. Like a good firefighter, never stop learning the job. Read the trade magazines and associated Web sites; look at the research and examine the case studies; and follow the notable fire service influencers who do their research and share verifiable, practiced, and tested techniques. Attend conferences and join in on the conversations at the coffee table (photo 4).

(4) The best instructors are lifelong learners and desire to know more about a subject to really understand it. A competent and experienced instructor oversees the student’s attempt to correctly set up rope rescue rigging. The instructor is passing on his knowledge to other firefighters. (Photo by author.)

If you spend just one hour a day getting better at your chosen subject, then it will not take very long for you to be a subject matter expert. Keep challenging yourself to learn more about your part of the trade—firefighting, fire prevention, rescue, emergency medical services, or instruction.

Look for new tools to teach. Examine the landscape of teaching technology and dig deeper into the information on instructional practices and methods. Remember that you are facilitating learning; any technology you incorporate into a class is to assist you in meeting the course objectives—it alone is not the course!

Look for new methods and ways to engage students. They have access to the most information ever! Instead of clicking through a battery of slides, have students go out to seek the information, answer a few questions, and report back to the whole group. You can facilitate the discussion to ensure that the correct information is shared, the bad information is corrected, and the objectives are covered.

Be a role model. Incorporate the traits of the best instructors you have had while working to minimize those of your worst instructors. Be the teacher you would want to have—one who is prepared for class, knows the subject matter, engages with the students, and designs a worthwhile training experience.

Be responsible. You are in charge of student learning and safety. Ensure that the class adheres to national standards, the fire department’s policies and procedures, and the students’ best interests. You are responsible to ensure the students learn what they need to know about the subject; do everything in your control to assist them in that process.

Be decent. The best teachers sometimes fail, but they do not blame the students. Be decent. Recall the best instructors who molded you into the firefighter you are today and emulate the best parts of them. Make the students’ need to learn your highest priority and treat each student with respect.

Good instructors integrate these characteristics before, during, and after the training session. Put some of these recommendations into your next training session to ensure your place as a member of the ranks of “good” instructors.

REFERENCES

1. Bain, Ken (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. Harvard University Press, 2004.

2. Hoevelmann, Jason. “5 Traits of Great Firefighting Instructors.” FireRescue1, 31 Mar. 2014.

3. Guzzi, Armand F. “The Fire Academy Instructor: Characteristics of a Good Educator.” Fire Engineering, 1 Apr. 2007, https://bit.ly/3jJ3pSd.

4. Menard, Chad. “Traits of a Good Fire Service Instructor.” First-In FireFighter, 14 Mar. 2015, https://bit.ly/3qeCX5q.

5. Avsec, Robert. “5 Characteristics of Effective Instructor Leadership.” Action Training, 26 Oct. 2016, https://bit.ly/3aaQwgK.

6. Crothers, Steve. “What Makes a Good Instructor?” Fire Rescue Magazine, 1 Mar. 2016, https://bit.ly/378DSgt.

7. Carrigan, Scott. “Qualities of a Good Instructor.” Fire Engineering, 1 Oct. 2005, https://bit.ly/3aeOEDN.

8. Burson, Kenneth. “Tips for Being a More Effective Fire Instructor.” Station Pride, 9 May 2015, https://bit.ly/3tSz1JW.

9. Daley, Michael. “Fire Instructors: Are You Good Enough to Instruct?” Firehouse.com, 28 Jan. 2015

10. Clausing, Clint, and Libby Snyder. Fire and Emergency Services Instructor. 8th ed., Fire Protection Publications, Oklahoma State University, 2012.

11. Reeder, Forest, and Alan Joos. Fire and Emergency Services Instructor: Principles and Practice. 3rd ed., Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2020.

12. Knowles, Malcolm S., et al. The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. Routledge, 2015.

13. Merriam, Sharan B., et al. Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide (The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series). Wiley, 2012.

14. Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105–119.

15. McClincy, William D. Instructional Methods in Emergency Services. Brady Prentice Hall, 2002.

16. New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. (2007). Fire service instructor I. Albany, NY: NYS OFPC.

17. Microsoft (2015). Microsoft attention spans. Mississauga, CN: Consumer Insights, Microsoft Canada.

18. Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). Discussions – Eberly Center – Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved February 2, 2020, from https://bit.ly/3jQ5w6T.


Edward A. Tracey, Ed.D., a 27-year fire service veteran, is the rescue company captain with the Rochester (NY) Fire Department (RFD) and helps manage its technical rescue training, response, and typing programs. He is a fire service and technical rescue instructor for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control. He is a lead instructor for the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs H.O.T. Truck Company Operations program.

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