Instructors Present from 28 States—Much Discussion on Establishment of Concrete Program for Fire Service Training

THE Eleventh Annual Fire Department Instructors Conference was opened Tuesday morning. January 10, in the Assembly Hall of the Memphis Fire Department Headquarters and continued until shortly after midday on Friday, January 13. The Conference was sponsored by the Fire Prevention Department of the Western Actuarial Bureau in cooperation with the Memphis Fire Department.

This conference has grown to assume a position of tremendous importance in the promotion and achievement of fire service educational work. It is the outgrowth of an informal meeting called among a group of six individuals who were in the employ of fire insurance underwriting and rating bureaus in the Middle West section of the country, as traveling fire department instructors.

First Meeting in Chicago

The first meeting was called in Chicago in 1929 and its alleged purpose was to discuss the problems of Fire Department training, arising out of each man’s experiences in his own state. The second meeting the following year, was held in Chicago, after which the next four meetings were held in St. Louis in cooperation with the St. Louis Fire Department. The last five meetings have been in Memphis, in cooperation with the Memphis Fire Department. Each year the conference has become more and more representative of the combined interests of the active fire service, interested city officials, State Fire Marshals, public educational agencies involved in fire prevention work, insurance underwriting organizations and the numerous other organizations which maintain a deep interest in the betterment of the fire service.

Attendance at the 1939 meeting far exceeded previous attendance records, with a total of 247 registrants representing 28 states and the District of Columbia. One of the highlights of this year’s attendance was a number of representatives from territories which have never before been included in the group. Another feature of the attendance was the official representation of the statewide firemen training movements in some 21 states, in addition to unofficial representatives having an indirect active interest in the training programs in several other states.

The conference represents no real organization and is strictly a conference aimed at producing a free and unbiased discussion of training problems. It is not a training school. Program arrangements are more or less spontaneous and are almost entirely suggested by members of the conference.

The highlight of the 1939 meeting was the amount of time devoted to the problem of establishing and developing a concrete program for fire service training in each state, with particular attention to the possibilities of at least partially subsidizing these programs under the terms of the George-Deen Act and preceding state and federal vocational training acts. Two full afternoon sessions were turned over to the Directors of the various state fire schools represented and were devoted to informal round-table discussion in connection with the organization and operation of these programs.

George Richardson. Secretary-Treasurer, International Association of Fire Fighters and Chief R. A. Bogan, Baton Rouge. La., represented the Federal Advisory Committee on Firemen training. As a climax to the entire discussion on training programs, the Suggested Standard Fire Service Training Program arranged and sponsored by the Educational Committee of the International Association of Fire Chiefs in cooperation with the Federal Office of Education, was outlined in detail and was most enthusiastically received as a general guide for the creation of complete programs in each state. Plans were also announced for the release of standard training and reference manuals to be used in the presentation of instructions in training programs built up around the suggested plan.

Two very interesting evening meetings were devoted exclusively to the showing of numerous motion pictures which had been taken in connection with Fire Department training operations throughout the country. These pictures served to bring out the opportunities open to the use of motion pictures in the development of training work. Two special evening meetings were conducted during the conference; one of which involved the annual meeting of the International Association of Fire Department Instructors and the other was a dinner party and meeting of the various fire insurance underwriting and rating bureau representatives present at the conference.

Through the courtesy of Chief Irby Klink and the Memphis Fire Department, buses were provided following the final evening session on Thursday night and the entire conference group was transported to the Casino at the State Fair grounds, where all of the members were invited to participate in a buffet supper and enjoy dancing.

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