Penn State Instructors Meet for Annual Planning

Penn State Instructors Meet for Annual Planning

Assistant Chief James Gargan, Project Park, and Captain Frank Mahoney. Brookline, demonstrate ventilation with small-scale smoke ejector

PENNSYLVANIA launched its 1965 fire service training program with the annual Instructors Workshop. The program, one of two held each year, was conducted at the Pennsylvania State Fire School at Lewistown. There were 160 persons attending, including 142 state certified instructors.

Five areas were covered in the daylong session. These included such subjects as Instructional Techniques, How to Present a Knot Class, How to Present a Ventilation Class, Operation of County and Regional Fire Schools and Presentation of Slides on Industrial Class.

Viola Harris of Scranton, director, Women’s Institute of Continuing Study of the PSI, was the first guest speaker. Her topic was Instructional Techniques. She pointed out that as PSI instructors, all are involved in working with adults who are there to learn because they want to learn. The more instructors do to appeal to the types of learning—hearing, seeing and touch—of students, the better off all will be.

“Adults learn better than children because of maturity and experience,” she said. We have an audience willing to listen …. it is our responsibility to make the class as interesting as possible for this reason alone.

“What can we do as instructors to teach better?” she asked, and then answered, “Preparation must be our first objective. We must know the subject we are teaching. And knowing our subject requires research. It takes up to three hours to prepare for one hour of instruction. In preparing our material, we should use a lesson plan and this should be in the form of an informal outline.”

Miss Harris also pointed out that the lesson plan-outline is a guide to delivering the material the instructor wants to get across. Conclusion of any lesson should be a summary of the material covered.

Effective presentation is another important phase of instruction. The instructor must be able to communicate with his students. This can be done through the use of visual aids such as films, slides, blackboard and flannelboard. He must be prepared to present these visual aids. The room or area where the class will be held must be ready.

To highlight a portion of her presentation and emphasize the fact that the instructor must get the attention of the class, Miss Harris displayed a large poster board sketch of a woman in a bathing suit. This brought the workshop group to attention and proved her point.

In concluding her discussion, Miss Harris said that instructors should call on others who are more informed on a particular subject to conduct a class. This will provide a better insight to the material covered and will break the routine.

George Stewart, Broomall Fire Company, Wayne, assisted by members of the fire school staff, presented a session on “How to Present a Knot Class.” Mr. Stewart, with the use of ropes, discussed the proper manner in teaching such a class.

Assistant Chief James Gargan, Propsect Park Volunteer Fire Department, and Captain Frank Mahoney, Brookline Volunteer Fire Department, Haverford Township, then presented a three-part discussion on “How to Present a Ventilation Class.” Gargan told the instructors that ventilation can be one of the most difficult subjects to teach. As did the others, he emphasized that knowing the material is one of the most important phases of the subject.

He broke this into three areas: (1) fact—films, slides, etc., in relation to teaching the course; (2) actual—experience; and (3) heresay—what you’ve heard from others.

When holding a lecture class a break should be held each hour, according to Gargan. He added that a standard ventilation class will take from six to eight hours to present. In most volunteer departments this is done usually one night a week for several weeks and thus requires some review before each presentation.

Captain Mahoney followed with actual ventilation practices that can be demonstrated. He used slides depicting several fires that had vented themselves, as well as to show the various gases that can be found in an unvented burning building. In addition, he discussed the principles of mechanical ventilation and showed scale models that can be used in the classroom.

Another visual aid that Captain Mahoney showed was a model home which had removable floors. The home had various windows that could be removed along with sliding doors. Using chemically produced smoke, ho demonstrated the vertical and horizontal spread of smoke in a building. Then with the use of the scaled-down smoke ejector, he showed methods used in ventilating.

Assistant Chief Gargan concluded the discussion by pointing out that ventilation is the effective result of all past training. He added, “We must know all our equipment, and to really be effective we should know the buildings in the fire zone covered through inspections. Pre-fire planning is another important phase of total success in ventilation.”

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