Technology with a Purpose

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Take Your ARFF Training to a Higher Level with TargetSolutions’ Firefighter Training System

TargetSolutions’ ready-made ARFF firefighter training solution features custom activities covering the FAA’s training DVD, as well as more than a dozen video-based training courses.

As we march through the height of fire season, it’s imperative that local crews are prepared on how to handle fire-related emergencies as they develop in and around airports. Whether the hazard is related to land, air or sea, maintaining a thorough working knowledge of aircraft rescue fundamentals can help to save lives. TargetSolutions’ Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting training solution provides a complete package of custom activities and engaging courses to satisfy your department’s mandated ARFF requirements.

The platform, equipped with unique training management functions and features to track compliance, delivers the Federal Aviation Administration’s training DVD through TargetSolutions’ powerful Activities Builder application. Complete with over a dozen lessons centered around emergency response, hazard mitigation, evacuation and rescue, this ready-made solution will efficiently and effectively meet annual FAA training regulations.

Titles of courses in this bundle include:

  • Adapting and Using Structural Equipment
  • Aircraft Cargo Hazards (Parts 1-2)
  • Aircraft Familiarization
  • Aircraft Rescue – Emergency Communications
  • Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Ops
  • Application of Extinguishing Agents (Parts 1-4)
  • Aviation Incident Response/Crash Rescue Management
  • Command and Control of Aircraft Incidents
  • Emergency Aircraft Evacuation
  • Out of the Blue
  • Personnel Safety
  • Vehicle Rescue
  • Water Rescue

“TargetSolutions’ Aircraft Rescue Firefighting bundle covers a special category of firefighting. With a unique blend of courses and features, this bundle will help prepare local firefighters, ground crews, and anyone else who responds to fire events in or around airports.”

Misty Pratt, Senior Product Manager, TargetSolutions

For more information on TargetSolutions’ ARFF firefighter training solution or any other training found in our course library, please contact us today at 1-800-840-8048.

Sudden Cardiac Events in the Fire Service

sudden cardiac arrest in fire service

With a staggering 51 percent of all firefighting line of duty deaths caused by sudden cardiac events, the epidemic presents itself as the No. 1 firefighting fatality.

The dangers of the firefighting profession are never in short supply. Smoke inhalation, burn injuries, car accidents, collapses – just a few of the perils that routinely handcuff themselves to the day-to-day operations of the job.

But there’s another hazard that’s quietly lurking below the radar causing more damage but receiving substantially less attention: sudden cardiac events. With a staggering 51 percent of all firefighting line of duty deaths caused by sudden cardiac events, the epidemic presents itself as the No. 1 firefighting fatality, more than any other fire-related danger combined.

Denise Smith, professor for health and exercise science at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is leading the crusade against fire service-related cardiovascular diseases. Citing studies that suggest the cardiovascular disease risk factors in firefighting are similar to those of the general population, Smith poses the question: If a firefighter’s basic cardiovascular disease risk isn’t greater than the rest of the population, why are they so much more likely to die at work?

The answer may lie in the magnitude of the cardiovascular strain they experience during their jobs.

For example, a person not involved with the fire service may harness a similar cardiovascular risk but is unlikely to do work that is as strenuous as a firefighter. More importantly, Smith asks, “are we doing enough to prevent sudden cardiac events in firefighters?”

Smith believes there is an abundance of cases where firefighters are being cleared for duty following a medical evaluation that includes findings of cardiovascular risk. This is due in large part because of the physician’s lack of understanding of the physiological and psychological strain of the job.

“In my mind, every firefighter should have a medical evaluation by a physician who understands the stressful nature of the job. Sometimes firefighters go to physicians who say ‘you are kind of in normal shape’ and clears them for duty, but doesn’t understand how stressful the job is.”

Denise Smith, Professor for Health and Exercise at Skidmore College (N.Y.)

Therein lies the problem: Firefighters are being cleared for duty despite the detection of early signs of cardiovascular diseases.

“The firefighter hears ‘I’m cleared for duty, therefore everything is OK,’ but very often those medical evaluations are doing exactly what they should be by detecting early signs of cardiovascular disease or risk factors but the firefighter is failing to follow up because he’s cleared,” said Smith.

Further complicating the issue of medical evaluations are departments that operate in a very black and white manner when it comes to firefighters being cleared for duty. Because of this, physicians are reluctant to take a firefighter off the job because of something like high blood pressure. This results in leaving treatment in the hands of the firefighter and puts them at greater risk if something is not done.

Simply put: Firefighters should receive appropriate medical evaluations and aggressively address risk factors – and departments should provide a comprehensive wellness and fitness program to help them do so, Smith believes.

In some cases, firefighters should be placed on light duty until health issues can be properly addressed. But what constitutes justifiable risk to remove a firefighter from active duty?

Smith suggests that a proper annual medical evaluation is a great place to start, but emphasizes that findings of hypertension, obesity, or diabetes/prediabetes must be taken seriously with accompanied steps to reduce the risk of further progression. Sudden cardiac events account for half of duty-related deaths and close to 1,000 non-fatal events every year.

Ignoring the risk makes no sense, she said.

“I think the possibility of a guy coming off active duty in order to rehabilitate to get those risk factors down to do the job more effectively and safely is a very reasonable approach,” said Smith.

As for what initial health risk factors should take priority, Smith suggests that elevated or borderline cardiovascular levels, especially prehypertension and prediabetes, should be taken more seriously. Too often are these issues seen as minor when, in fact, they’re constituting an exuberant medical risk.

While some may be intimidated by mandated health programs that place greater emphasis on managing a wide array of cardiovascular issues, Smith says the goal should be to turn these programs into a positive message as a way to avoid devastating health incidents.

“Prevention is the most powerful thing that’s largely within a firefighter’s own control,” Smith said. “A firefighter who has good overall health and is exercising, maintaining a normal body weight and eating healthy is the one who’s most protected from cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

“These are largely solvable issues and can be addressed and mitigated by the actions of firefighters to keep themselves healthier.”

  • This article was written by Greg Baldwin of TargetSolutions after an in-depth interview with featured contributor Denise L. Smith.

About the Contributor

Denise L. Smith, Ph.D.

Denise L. Smith, Ph.D., is a Professor of Health and Exercise Sciences at Skidmore College where she directs the First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory, and a Research Scientist at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute. Dr. Smith has co-authored an Exercise Physiology and an Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology textbook. Dr. Smith has published more than 50 scientific papers and has received funding from FEMA-AFG, DHS S&T, NIOSH and DOD to pursue her research agenda. She is a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Service Occupational Safety and Health committee, and she regularly conducts fatality investigations for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Maintain a Safe Working Environment with TargetSolutions’ Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

TargetSolutions’ sexual harassment awareness training courses provide agencies with the tools to help prevent incidents and create a positive work environment.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says more than 11,000 charges of sexual harassment were filed as recently as 2011. According to the United States Department of Justice, claims amount to more than one billion dollars in annual losses.

Sexual harassment creates an environment of hostility and anxiety, where victims suffer from depression, anger and fear.

While achieving compliance for mandatory sexual harassment training is a positive step in the right direction, further ensuring the prevention of harassment helps create a healthy work environment.

TargetSolutions’ online training library features sexual harassment awareness courses with lessons for supervisors and employees alike.

“I think when we look solely at the compliance piece we lose a little bit of the human factor. We can help organizations provide this training and focus on educating their folks around what a safe work environment is. We take the compliance piece and humanize it, making it something that shows that an organization cares about their individuals.”

Jennifer Jones, TargetSolutions

One of the most powerful components of the platform’s training management system is the Manage Credentials application, which allows platform managers to package and deliver online courses with custom content, including sexual harassment policies and information.

For more information on how TargetSolutions can help your organization reduce liability, please contact us today at (800) 840-8048.

Meet the Team: Get to Know Client Services Representative Tomasita Butler

Tomasita_ButlerTargetSolutions’ Account Specialist Tomasita Butler is very familiar with the fire service. After all, her father is a retired fire captain. Maybe that’s why she has fit in so comfortably at TargetSolutions where we serve public agencies of all types.

After joining TargetSolutions’ Client Services team in March of 2016, Tomasita has worked hard to provide customers with outstanding support.

“This has been an amazing opportunity for me and the position has everything that I was looking for and then some,” said Tomasita, who is from the small town of Shandon, Calif. “I feel lucky to be here. It’s really interesting and I keep learning new things every day, so it’s been a great learning experience.”

One interesting fact about Tomasita is that her hometown in San Luis Obispo County was so small growing up, there were no stoplights. In fact, they would have to drive into town to get gas, she said.

Check out this Q-and-A to learn more about Tomasita Butler:

Favorite food:

Hamburgers! And sushi… I can’t just have one.

Have you been out of the country?

Cabo for my honeymoon.

Signature dish (cooking):

Steak with roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and white rice. My fav!

Favorite season of the year:

Christmas!

Favorite genre of music:

Rock.

If you didn’t live in San Diego, where would you live?

Seattle.

Palm trees and beach or greenery and rivers?

Greenery and rivers.

Favorite actor:

Tom Hanks.

What is your best talent?

Photography.

Favorite movie:

There’s far too many, but one of my favorites is Father of the Bride.

 

Why Effective Public Relations Is Important for the Fire Service in the 21st Century

Fire Service Public Relations

Fire departments need to be more proactive communicating with the public in order to connect with the community, says author and speaker Daniel Byrne of the Burton Fire District (S.C.).

When it comes to humility, fire service members usually lead the pack. You’re not going to find Joe Firefighter cruising around town boasting about his job to every Tom, Dick and Harry. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Daniel Byrne, who serves as Community Support Officer for the Burton Fire District in South Carolina, condensed a firefighter’s typical day down to a simple routine: come to work, do your job, go home.

Ask Byrne to add some flare to describe the line of duty and the result is almost glamorous: Respond to calls, fight fires, then go home.

But Byrne says that type of mindset needs to change. As an outspoken proponent of encouraging firefighters to be more enthusiastic about informing their community and neighbors about their occupations, Byrne urges enhanced public relations with those same communities and local media to spread the word and tell the firefighter story.

“Times have changed and so much focus is now placed on economic efficiency and transparency,” said Byrne, who has had numerous articles about effective public relations strategies published in Firehouse magazine and online at Firehouse.com.

“It’s all about ‘what are you doing for me today? What services are you providing for me today to warrant tax dollars?’ If they don’t truly know what we do in-between fires, what challenges we face, and what our needs are to meet those challenges – along with the consequences for not having those resources – how can they support us?”

The public is simply uninformed because no one in the fire service is informing them, Byrne believes.

“People in your community can tell you reams of information on the Kardashians and the latest story on the bathroom wars, but can’t tell you what the leading cause of fire in their community is or how many fires their department responds to,” said Byrne.

“People are asking why we pay firefighters to sleep. Managers and government officials are asking. Now the public is asking. The public want answers to these questions that we never had to provide.”

Public Relations Fire Service

Byrne cites the problem coming down to fire departments assuming what the public wants, but never actually asking. In reality, departments need to be more proactive in order to close the disconnect between themselves and the community, he said. This can include teaching classes, writing articles about the firehouse, providing guest speakers for schools and other social groups, and generally do everything possible to engage the public. The fire service’s perceived value can no longer be taken for granted.

Breaking out of the traditional persona of staying quiet is a role the fire service can’t afford to play anymore. For example, for many people sprinklers aren’t seen as a necessity because not enough speakers going out into the community to explain the benefits.

“Going out into the community and doing blood pressure checks and talking about fire extinguishers and smoke detectors is just as effective, if not more so, than any large scale fire program,” Byrne said.

Daniel ByrneUltimately, as Byrne states, prevention is a major part of fire protection and taking the proper steps to communicate this to the public and ensure safety can save lives and keep the damage to a minimum.

About the Author

Daniel Byrne is an Engineer/Paramedic and Community Support Officer for the Burton Fire District in Beaufort County, S.C. He is also an Assistant Chief of Training for the Georgia Air National Guard 165th Fire Department. Byrne is a third generation firefighter and holds both an associate and bachelor’s degree in Fire Science, and a Fire Officer and Fire Instructor III certification.

 

Best Practices for Emergency Response During an Active Shooter Incident – Part 1

Best Practices for Active Shooter Incident

Ofer Lichtman of Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department (Calif.)Ofer Lichtman of Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department (Calif.) is an expert on numerous subjects impacting the fire service, including Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) and terrorism awareness. The terror attack in San Bernardino (Calif.) in December of 2015 has heightened domestic concerns over violence and against civilian populations. Lichtman recently provided TargetSolutions with an in-depth interview of his thoughts regarding effective strategies for first responders during an active shooter incident. This article is Part 1 in a two-part series. Please click here for Part 2.

Here is the Q-and-A:

TargetSolutions: What are the current protocols that are commonly taken during an active shooter incident?

Lichtman: As a country, about 85 percent of fire departments have an archaic type of response that is traditional in the sense of waiting for law enforcement to declare a scene safe. Then firefighters would proceed to enter a cold zone environment and begin treating patients in a traditional EMS fashion. The other 15 percent of fire departments have some type of active shooter response model. These proactive fire departments have identified the best way to increase survivability in these situations is to treat preventable death injuries as close to the time and location in which they took place. Fire departments around the country are identifying this as a standard model that needs to be developed and practiced.  Entering a warm zone environment and treating patients is one of the best things we can do as an industry for our community.

TargetSolutions: What are the characteristics of preventable death injuries during active shooter incidents in civilian environments?

We traditionally fall back on the military model of what’s killing our soldiers overseas. Our theory was that the injuries killing our soldiers overseas are the same injuries that are killing our civilians here at home. There was this notion that “a bullet in the Middle East does the same damage as a bullet in San Bernardino.” Massive extremity hemorrhage is known to be the No. 1 cause of preventable death injury in our soldiers, so it’s probably the No. 1 cause of preventable death injuries for civilians here at home during active shooters, but the reality is that it’s just not true! A recent study done in cooperation with the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care(C-TECC)  shows that civilians do not have a way to defend themselves in active shooter situations and the proximity to shooters is much closer than it would be if they were in a gunfight as soldiers engaged in combat.

The issue of body armor in the civilian population is non-existent, whereas in the military it’s very advanced. When you consider that most soldiers have a ballistic plate on their torso and a helmet, you realize why there is a very high injury pattern to the extremities. That is the reality in the military. In the civilian tactical environment, we must be data driven and recognize the differences from true combat. For example, applying a tourniquet isn’t the No. 1 treatment we should be focusing on anymore when we are treating civilians with no body armor. Applying a tourniquet is still a very high priority but the data shows that torso injuries result in the highest amount of preventable death injuries in the civilian environment. If we don’t train our people on how to identify and treat that, then we’re negligent as first responders. We have to ask difficult questions like are we really doing everything we can to give these people the best chance for survival?

TargetSolutions: How can the community help first responders during an active shooter scenario?

Lichtman: We know there are plenty of civilians who are trained or can be trained to provide care, information, and even eliminate a threat if they can. The reality is that the response time for a bystander is truly zero minutes. We can never come close to that as first responders. So why not empower the community and correctly train them to not only survive an active shooter incident but what they can do to save themselves, family and friends. Second, teach them treatment options for preventable death injuries that are more specific in the civilian environment and not the military. Trained community members give us the time we need from injury to when advanced care can enter the warm zone. We need to treat this with a whole community-wide approach and decrease the time it take patients to get treated. We can achieve this with bystanders who are actively participating in treatment and not afraid to take action during these disasters.

TargetSolutions: What can first responders do to help train the community should such an event occur?

Lichtman: One of the most effective and inspiring programs around is called the First Care Provider program (FCP). It’s a non-profit organization that identifies the concepts and approach needed to be done by civilians during these environments we have been talking about. It draws from the TECC guidelines that we as firefighters use and adapts them to civilians. In essence, it empowers civilians how to ACT (Actions, Communicate, Treatment) in an active shooter situation, what actions and options are appropriate in different situations, including treatment of preventable death injuries in the civilian populations.

As firefighters, we’re missing a golden opportunity to impact and prepare our community if we do not engage with them on this topic. As firefighters, we are becoming more comfortable and proficient with TECC and must use what we have learned to prepare our community for what they can do to increase all around survivability. Just as we have done in the past with respect to fire prevention and community AED programs, this should be no different.

You might have already heard of some communities attempting to implement this in reaction to the San Bernardino incident. In Rancho Cucamonga, we have trained all city employees and more than 2,200 civilians in that same model. We put on a three-hour course that consists of first care provider training and surviving an active shooter event which focuses on TECC and what they need to do in that type of environment. We have to give the community the tools they need to do a good job so that we can do ours. Further, in Rancho Cucamonga and cities across the country, we’ve employed community trauma kits. We have placed these kits in every city-owned AED compartment throughout the community, these kits include the equipment necessary to manage injuries in a mass type of civilian shooting.

To read Part 2 of this two-part series, please click here.

About the Author:
Ofer Lichtman started out as a first responder in Israel and is currently the Terrorism Liaison Officer Coordinator for Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department (Calif.). Lichtman was instrumental in developing its Terrorism and Tactical Response Program. Lichtman is a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and is on the advisory board of the C-TECC.

Creating a Healthy and Fit Culture for Your Fire Department

Healthy Fire Department Culture

Since 2007, firefighter Aaron Zamzow has served as a firefighter and EMT with the City of Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin. He is also an author and certified personal fitness trainer. He began his career, however, in the fitness industry at 18 years old. He has worked with elite athletes and studied under some of the top trainers in the world. Zamzow believes diet and exercise are foundations for a healthier fire department culture.

We recently spoke with Zamzow about how the fire service can create a healthier culture, a topic he presented on at Firehouse World in San Diego this past February. Here is the Q-and-A:

Firefighting is a physically strenuous job, but when you say “creating a healthy and fit culture,” that implies something needs to change. What do you think needs to change?
It seems 99 percent of the budget that most cities have is spent on PPE (personal protective equipment), which is necessary, but only 1 percent is spent on the health and wellness of those operating the equipment, and that seems backwards.

What diseases or conditions put firefighters at risk due to their occupation?
PTSD is prevalent in the service. Suicide is prevalent. Health and safety issues, sudden cardiac arrest, plus all of the injuries that go along with the job. There are a lot of resources out there, but not a lot of application. We’re talking about it, but nobody’s really doing much about it.

To maintain the kind of culture you’re striving for, where should resources be allocated?
Spend more time and money on wellness resources. Funding should be allocated toward the education of what exactly is health and fitness. Even just getting fire departments to talk about PTSD and nutrition and get people to talk more about fitness and health and wellness and what they should be doing to improve it.

Departments will spend thousands to get chiefs to come in and talk about fire attacks and behavior but they don’t allocate any of those funds to health and fitness to make people more aware of it. By simply bringing a few pieces of fitness equipment into the firehouse shows your staff that you’re making the commitment to fitness.

Read More Fire Service Content

Leadership needs to start stepping up, including chiefs. Prevalent people in the industry need to step up and say this is important and place emphasis on it. Chiefs need to be leaders and set the example. It doesn’t have to be extreme but they need to be aware that they can be the ones that set a program in place. Lead by example and be open. Don’t be a dictator. Find resources that are out there even if you’re a small department. Set an example. Start providing resources around the firehouse. It can be cheap stuff, like foam rollers.

Go out into the community. People believe in helping and giving back to the fire service and could help with the promotion of health and fitness. Firefighters are highly motivated and very competitive. We had a “Fit for Duty” challenge where crews can challenge each other and set weight loss goals. Let’s say that everyone puts in $10 and the winning crew gets the money. Make the challenge to change the culture and be that leader. There are resources and things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money but that can get people involved. If 20-30 people in a department of 100 participate in a challenge with no money out of pocket, that can really change a culture right there.

What are the basic steps to sustaining a healthy and fit lifestyle?
Drink more water. The more hydrated you are, the more actual fluid your blood is which makes it easier on your heart to do work. If you’re not hydrated, the blood is thicker and the heart works harder to circulate blood.

Work on core and flexibility training. The number one cause of early retirement is lower back pain and back injury followed by the shoulders and knees. The chances for injuries in this profession are high but being in better shape can lead to a quicker recovery.

Build a good cardio base. Get to the point where you’re doing intervals that mimic the spike in cardiac stress that you go through on the job. Help build that cardiovascular base.

Full body training. How often during a fire have you ever done a bench press? On the fireground, you’re never isolating anything.

Eat like an athlete would. Change the diet up. Stop eating like we traditionally do in the firehouse. Eat more fruits and veggies, no processed foods, and prepare meals ahead of time. Think of what you’re going to eat ahead of time. Got to be ready.

What is the culture like in the firehouse when it comes to dieting and nutrition?
Portions in the firehouses are huge. We usually eat on big platters because you don’t want to run out. My suggestion is to serve on smaller plates because it’s all about perception. A big plate with a lot of food creates the idea that “oh, I only ate one plateful so I have to go back and get more.” But if you have a small or medium plate, then your body and mind perceives it differently and tells your body that you are fuller.

Avoid highly processed foods, bagged foods, and packaged foods while including natural, one-ingredient foods. Always have vegetables and fruits available. I won’t throw sweets away because I don’t want to be “that guy,” but I’ll put them in the cupboard so it takes effort to get to them. Then I’ll leave celery and peanut butter with some orange slices on the table and, believe it or not, most of that stuff gets completely eaten. If you make it more work to get the bad stuff and you put some good stuff there, chances are they’ll take the good stuff.  Smaller portions, natural foods, and limit the sugars.

Aaron ZamzowAbout the Author
Aaron Zamzow is a firefighter and EMT for the City of Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin. He is also a degreed personal fitness trainer and author, as well as the owner of Fire Rescue Fitness, a company dedicated to creating products and blogs focused on keeping firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics in top physical condition and “fit for duty.” He has almost 10 years of experience as a firefighter/EMT and another 20 as a fitness expert, training with elite athletes and studying with some of the top trainers in the world.

 

 

TargetSolutions’ All-New Course Wrapper Offers a Sleek, Mobile-Friendly Experience

The all-new course wrapper makes TargetSolutions’ online training courses mobile responsive.

The next time you log on to TargetSolutions to complete an online training course, your jaw just might drop. The all-new course wrapper offers a sleeker interface built to improve every user’s experience.

The modern layout makes TargetSolutions’ entire catalog of more than 1,000 online training courses mobile-friendly. No matter what type of device you are utilizing, TargetSolutions will now have a dynamic feel as the course adjusts to fit your screen.

“Our new course wrapper helps TargetSolutions offer another important element of e-Learning: convenience,” said Director of Content Jeremy Lynch. “We understand online training is increasingly becoming a mobile activity, but before this upgrade we didn’t have the ability to design courses to be responsive to the end user’s device. Now we will be able to create courses that cater to the user. Start on a desktop, finish on a tablet or phone. Our wrapper will change as your device changes.”

The new design not only makes TargetSolutions’ online training more user-friendly, but more interactive. The enhanced formatting allows for greater audio and video capabilities. Users can now download course audio files for easier playback while navigating through a course.

Check out this help video to learn more about what has changed with TargetSolutions’ mobile-friendly course design.

In addition to audio downloads, the layout offers the same functionality as before, only in a new style. From the navigation menu, users are able to do the following:

  • Access other lessons from the table of contents
  • Read a course description and other important information
  • Ask their site administrator a question through the course
  • Type notes related to the course material
  • View instructions on how to utilize the course
  • See what percentage of the course’s required time is completed
  • Download an entire course’s audio content

Whether it’s Bloodborne Pathogens Safety training, Sexual Harassment Awareness training, or any other course in the catalog, TargetSolutions will now have the ability to do even more innovative upgrades in the future.

“TargetSolutions training will now be accessible by a wider audience and have fewer audio and video restrictions – no matter the browser. We are excited to take advantage of the content delivery options this wrapper upgrade offers us – whether it’s adding more audio and video or developing scenarios for 3D animation, we are well-positioned to improve how users consume our content.”

Jeremy Lynch, Director of Content, TargetSolutions

For more information on how to utilize TargetSolutions’ all-new course design, please see our help video or contact us at (800) 840-8048.

 

Developing the Future of the Fire Service

Future of the Fire Service

In February at Firehouse World, Jake Rhoades, a 24-year veteran of the fire service who currently serves as the chief of the City of Kingman Fire Department in Arizona, delivered a presentation, “Developing the Future of the Fire Service.” The discussion focused on the problems facing the industry’s culture of tradition and the ascension of firefighters through the ranks.

TargetSolutions had the opportunity to interview Chief Rhoades about the topic. Here is the Q-and-A:

What types of challenges are fire departments facing today and how do you think those can be addressed?
Right now we’re in the midst of big changes in the fire service. There’s a generational change; we’re retiring out a large chunk of experience, baby boomers are retiring, veterans who learned on the job over the last 25 years. Losing that on-the-job training is a huge setback because fires are actually down 62 percent. Those real-life scenarios and events haven’t been experienced by the new recruits and thus the service is forced to promote people who aren’t ready.

What does the future of the fire service mean to you?
Leadership is changing. Currently it’s quasi-military with a very set standard of “this is how we do it, this is our hierarchy, and this is how it is.” However, society as a whole is changing, not just the fire service. The old leaders who said, “we’re going to do this because I said so,” is going away. Today, people want to know why we do what we do and why we operate in our system. Communication is a much bigger crux in the fire service in that we cannot communicate enough, from the top down to the bottom up. The other part is planning and having a plan. I get to go around the country and talk and speak and no matter where you are, people don’t have development plans. What is your succession plan? Who is the next you? Who is the next fire chief? They don’t know, but there needs to be a plan in place to develop these people. Everyone needs to be on the same page with officer development, strategy, and succession plans.

read more fire service blogsA lot of models are out there to follow and there are lots of departments that are doing it right. We have to look around and look at our neighbors. We need to look at promotional policies. Ten to 15 years ago, a chief was required to have 15 years’ experience on the job. Today, an EFO is required, as is a master’s degree, and in some cases a Ph.D. is preferred. Before long a Ph.D. may become mandatory for a fire chief’s job.

We talked about some of the challenges currently facing departments. What are some of the things that are going right that can help prepare for the future?
Every one of us should have a comprehensive officer development program based on your organization. Nothing cookie cutter that can easily be copied. You can take whatever departments have and tweak it to your department, but it needs to be personalized with promotional policies and courses tailored to your own organization. We have to provide opportunities, guidance, and leadership for those individuals who are going to be us one day and wearing the white shirts and bugles. People have guarded their knowledge in the past because they didn’t want anyone to be smarter than them. I want people smarter than me. The more people below me who are smarter than me, the better we are as an organization and better off we are as a fire service.

When you hear the phrase “this is how we’ve always done it,” how does that make you feel about the future of the fire service? Do we need to change that mentality?
We should not and cannot tolerate that answer. We should give a definitive answer as to why we do what we do, even the small things; fog nozzles, smooth board nozzles, why ventilate every fire from the roof. We have to challenge the culture of the fire service in our organization and that’s difficult. That’s a hard battle because getting out of our comfort zone is very difficult. The fire service is very traditional and becomes engrained and even on the task firefighter level, guys get comfortable doing things a certain way. We have to challenge that daily.

It starts with the leadership of a department. Communicate those visions and goals for the organization. I think using an accreditation model from the CFAI (Commission on Fire Accreditation International) is critical for the fire service because that promotes continuous improvement. Stay on top of trends in the fire service and not accepting the status quo. As long as we accept the status quo then we fall behind. I say that the status quo gets people hurt and that’s the last thing we want to do. We work very hard for retirement. Firefighters are known for that. Let’s get them there safely so they can enjoy a life after the fire service. Enjoy those grandkids and enjoy life after working so hard serving their communities.

 

fire service futureAbout the Author
Jake Rhoades is a 24-year veteran of the fire service and is currently the chief of the City of Kingman Fire Department in Arizona. He holds a Master’s of Science degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership and is pursuing his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development. Chief Rhoades is a frequent author and speaks nationally on topics of relevance to the fire service.

 

Boost Your First Responders’ Emergency Preparedness with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions’ First Responder Operations Level Refresher (Module 4) covers the use of hazardous materials during a terrorist attack.

TargetSolutions’ First Responder Operations Level Refresher training series provides valuable lessons for professionals who are regularly exposed to emergency environments.

The fourth module in the four-part series focuses on threats of terrorism and covers incident management, the perils of hazardous materials, and weapons of mass destruction. Module 4 consists of 11 lessons and a 10-question exam and has recently been updated with new content.

Here is a quick overview of the modules in this four-part series:

Module 1: Designed for personnel who respond to hazardous materials releases, this course discusses how to mitigate incidents in a defensive fashion.

Module 2: Covers the chemical and physical properties of materials, including their impact on storage and how to assess the risk to a responder for each hazard class.

Module 3: Explores the principles of site management, methods to establish and enforce control zones, tactics for emergency decontamination, and ways to conduct defensive operations.

Module 4: Provides an overview of a responder’s role in the response plan and how to identify an act of terrorism, which can be integral for navigating a safe and successful rescue.

“You can never be over-prepared for a situation like this. What separates this module from the other three is obviously terrorism. (First responders) will know how to handle the incident in a way that not only protects themselves and any of the innocent bystanders from potential exposure, but they’ll know they won’t be making a mistake that could make things worse rather than better.”

Jeremy Lynch, TargetSolutions’ Director of Content

For more information on TargetSolutions’ First Responder Operations Level Refresher training series or course in the online training library for first responders, please contact us today at 1 (800) 840-8048.