The problems of providing training in a large and complex fire department require a greater reliance on the tools of modern technology. The Newark, N.J., Fire Department has realized this, and is on the road to providing a better, more comprehensive training program for their fire fighters.

  • The fire is out. The last ember has been overhauled. Back at the fire station a feeling of uneasiness settles over you. Did my engines take the best possible fire hydrant locations? Were all the people evacuated? Did the attack teams use SCBA? As these and other questions race through your mind, you pause and think that it sure would be nice to sit down and look at that fire on film.
  • You’ve just slammed the phone receiver back down. Waves of anger and frustration are boiling up throughout your body. Dumb plant manager, you say to yourself. Doesn’t he realize that those pre-fire planning surveys are for his own good? Doesn’t he know that we have to be familiar with his property if we are to protect it properly. The nerve of him, asking me to keep my people out of the plant so that they won’t bother his employees.

In answer to such frustrations, Fire Director John P. Caufield, Chief Stanley J. Kossup and Deputy Chief Alfred Freda of the Newark, N.J., Fire Department held a brainstorming session to determine the best method of ascertaining and meeting their fire fighters’ training needs. From this problemsolving session, Newark’s audiovisual team was formed. Working out of the fire training center, the team assists in solving many of the problems inherent in running a major metropolitan fire department.

“In a city as complex as Newark, it is very important to get a handle on the many problems which impact on the orderly provision of municipal fire protection,” Caufield states.

Problems indeed. The 23.5-squaremile city houses a major chemical manufacturing center, a large seaport area and a major commercial airport. The city is bisected by the New Jersey Turnpike as well as all of the state’s major rail lines.

“Through our initial employment of the video team, we have been able to identify a number of areas where a need exists for remedial training,” Kossup notes. “Since it is usually the little things which trip you up, the video team serves as a dispassionate set of eyes on the fireground. It reports what is sees, without any coloration or prejudice.”

With six cameras and two VCR units, the team, under the command of Freda, has done just that. Their response to working fires has uncovered a number of problems that the training division has been able to address through programs developed in-house.

“One of our remedial programs has saved us enough money to have paid for itself twice over already,” says Freda.

The technical aspects of the team are handled by Captain Gene Anderson, a long-time member of the Newark Fire Department, and I supply the editorial assistance.

There is not much time for grass to grow under the feet of the video team members. Our current priority projects involve cable television. A 30-minute program is being developed on Operation EDITH. Other programs will cover our fire rescue squad and its service to the community, as well as a variety of fire prevention subjects.

Caufield takes great pride in pointing out that his department is in the process of having cable television installed in each of the city’s fire stations. “We will now be better able to deliver training directly to the people who need it, without taking them away from their fire districts.”

One of the team’s more ambitious projects lies in the area of pre-fire planning. “Previously, we had four different working shifts passing through some of our more important hazard sites for familiarization with the areas,” Anderson points out. “What we now intend to do is conduct a drill at each site using one of the four shifts and videotape the drill so that the other personnel can view it during their drill time in the fire station. We will be providing a more in-depth coverage and creating less of a nuisance for the people we are protecting.”

The team handles the entire program from shooting (in either color or black and white) to editing to final program, all at the city’s fire academy.

“We will be able to deliver our fire training program in an extremely costeffective manner,” Kossup states, “whenever and wherever the need arises.”

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