Training for the New Fire Officer

Click to EnlargeCaptain Bob Carpenter of Miami Dade (FL) Fire Rescue addressed a common problem facing new officers in his four-hour FDIC 2010 “Skills and Drills” workshop: training new companies in the “bread-and-butter” hands-on skills of firefighting operations. Carpenter reviewed some of the problems newly promoted officers might encounter when trying to implement a hands-on training program.

“This workshop addresses an issue that many departments have in their promotional process–promoting the unprepared officer,” Carpenter said. “While the independent study for exams and the prerequisite certifications such as Fire Officer I & II are a good start, these requirements often fall short of job preparation.

“Mastering the academics is one thing, but supervision on the fireground requires solid hands on-skills as well,” Carpenter continued, “Often, the fast track up the ladder neglects this area and that is not the officer-elect’s fault. If a department is promoting less-than-prepared officers, they are placing members as well as the public at risk.”

In the highly interactive workshop, Carpenter engaged the audience about the officer development process. He asked about the effectiveness of assessment centers in their respective departments and about whether hands-on skills were part of their officer development program. He also discussed the shortfalls of different methods of promoting officers.

“Somebody here has a department just like yours, “Carpenter said of the disussion. “All of us have the same problems. We all have rock stars and knuckleheads in our department. Don’t pretend like it doesn’t happen in your house. The only difference with us [Miami Dade] is that we have green trucks.”

Carpenter reviewed the content of various officer development programs and discussed the range of hands-on skills that need to be covered. He also discussed the details of a dynamic hands-on skills clinic that departments could adapt for their own training program.

Carpenter is a regular contributor to Fire Engineeirng, having written most recently on high-rise building systems as well as officer development issues, and is past presenter at FDIC. He has also done an Web-only presentation on officer development for FDIC Online.

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