Flashover Friday: The Great Instructor

Today’s Flashover Friday is dedicated to talking about instructor’s:

1. What do you consider the minimum amount of time a firefighter should have to have on the job before they start instructing?

2. What kind of credentialing do you look for in instructor’s?

3. How do we solve the problem of inexperienced instructor’s teaching in the fire service? Stay for instance in state fire academy’s.

4. How you do you deal with the instructor that has seen everything, but has done anything, and has a million war stories?

Also you can talk about any instructing experience good or bad. Just do not use anyone’s name. If you want to offer instructor development tips those are welcome to.


  • Kevin says:

    1. Depends on what they are trying to teach. A younger member who is quite proficient at putting on a SCBA may very well be expierenced enough to teach donning SCBA. But this same member is not ready to teach overall Engine/Truck Ops. It is up to the senior members to guide these younger members in to the right spots to use their desire and teach them how to teach. Put these youngsters in the wrong teaching spot with veterans and they may never teach again after “being eaten alive”.

    2. Paper does not put out fire, actually if I remember it fuels it. Expierence means more than paper but it must be expierence with reflection and evaluation (Yes I stole that) but it is true. Consider the 20 year veteran that does not wear all their gear. He/She has 20 years of expierence doing it wrong or 20 years of one year over and over.

    3. This problem we breed ourselves.
    A. Who is willing to be on straight days at the acadamy…
    B. Who can or is willing to give up the time often without compensation to teach at a state fire acadamy… It may only be one day or so but how many hours on the front end or back end of the class are involved.
    Fixing this problem goes to the overall management of the school and how credible they want their school.

    4. War stories start with “No sh%$ There we where fire to the left fire to the right, the water was so dry” and end there. Teaching stories start with “Do or do not do this” and this is the expierence that we had as to why. In our business they usually involve a near miss or evaluation and reflection of operations. i.e. what pattern do you set your fog nozzle in the hose bed? “Well we carry it in the fog setting in case we get into a flashover.” Really well if you are getting into so many flashovers, you should probably kick your truck crew in the ass or learn the signs of impending flashover and slow down a bit. One of the other reasons I have heard is “So someone does not get center punched when we charge the line”, hmmm so what happens if it is a smooth bore. On our engine it is carried in a straight stream due to when you bleed it you don’t soak everybody, reach of stream on exposures or side washing and putting porches/overhangs out before you go under them, direct attack (non steaming of your victims, the truck guys dig it too). You get the drift more often applied stream vs seldom applied.
    Have a great weekend!

  • anchorpoint1 says:

    I assume you are talking about formal classroom type of instructor, correct?
    I don’t mind taking quick lessons from Jr guys with no credentials. Especially if it was/is their specialty in another life. The guy who used to install elevators for example.
    In the classroom for organized, sit your butt down and learn classes I would hope for at least and instructor I cert. The cert itself doesn’t mean they are a good instructor or even know the subject, it means they were shown how to do it and were made aware of possible consequences and the extent of the liability they are imposing on themselves..
    I personally have a pile of certificates and if I stack them very nicely and put them under one leg of my kitchen table they will stop it from wobbling. I’m not saying they are totally worthless.
    I hate the war story guy. Because it’s always what they did right or someone else did wrong. I prefer an example and then tell me about how it went after we discuss it. Usually I just try to appear bored until he quits with the story telling, or just hit him with a few whys.
    I don’t mind young instructors because I usually feel like one. Like Kevin says it’s like being thrown to the dogs. I think situational awareness is key.
    Stay safe.

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