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The Time to Redefine the Art and Science of Firefighting Is Nearly Upon Us

Blog by Christopher J. Naum
Executive Producer of www.buildingsonfire.com

Today’s incident demands on the fireground are unlike those of the recent past, requiring incident commanders, commanding and company officers and firefighters to have increased technical knowledge of building construction. It also requires heightened sensitivity to fire behavior and fire dynamics, a focus on operational structural stability of the compartment and building envelope, as well as considerations related to occupancy risk vs. the occupancy type.

Without question, there is an immediate need for today’s emerging and operating command and company officers to increase their foundation of knowledge and insights related to modern technology and its relationship with building occupancy, building construction and fire protection engineering.

We need to be ready to modify traditional and conventional strategic operating profiles in order to safeguard companies, personnel and team compositions.

Strategies and tactics must have the combined adequacy of sufficient staffing, fire flow and tactical patience orchestrated that identifies with the fire profiling, predictability of the occupancy and building profile and accounts for presumptive fire behavior within compartments and buildings.

We used to discern with a measured degree of predictability how buildings would perform, react and fail under most fire conditions. Implementing the fundamentals of art and science of firefighting operations built upon nine decades of experience and proven strategies continues to be the model of suppression operations. These same fundamental strategies continue to drive methodologies and curriculums in our current training programs and academies.

The lack of appreciation and the understanding of correlating principles involving fire behavior, fuel and rate of heat release — as well as the growth stages of compartment fires within a structural occupancy — are the defining paths from which the fire service must reexamine operations in order to identify with the predictability of occupancy performance during fire suppression operations. Ultimately, this will increase suppression effectiveness and firefighter safety.

The demands and requirements of modern firefighting, as well as the influence of technology will continue to require the placement of personnel within situations and buildings that carry risk, uncertainty and inherent danger. Risk management needs to become fluid and integrated with intelligent tactical deployments and operations recognizing the risk problematically and not fatalistically, resulting in safety conscious strategies and tactics and operational excellence.

Our world has evolved and changed. There are a variety of technological and sociological demands that create a continuing element of change in the built environment and our infrastructure. With these changes and demands come the requirements to assess these vulnerabilities, hazards, threats and dangers with effective and dynamic risk management and competent command and control.

These changes influence the way we do business in the street and equate to the risks and hazards you and your personnel will be confronted during incident operations. Fire suppression tactics must be adjusted for the rapidly changing methods and materials impacting all forms of building construction, occupancies and structures.

The need to redefine the art and science of firefighting is nearly upon us. Some things do stand the test of time, others need to adjust, evolve and change. Not for the sake of change only, but for the emerging and evolving buildings, structures and occupancies being built, developed or renovated in our communities.

About the Author
Christopher J. Naum, SFPE, has more than 37 years of field and operations experience and previously worked in command, operations and training capacities. Currently serves as the executive producer for several fire service websites, including www.buildingsonfire.com.

“Request a File” Functionality Assists Tracking of Offsite Training

We have recently received a few calls from clients wondering about the new Request a File component in Activities Builder. This new functionality was added a few months ago as an especially handy feature for tracking offsite training.

The Request File component enables administrators to require the user attach a file to the activity before they are able to complete it. In the past, users would have to record the training in TargetSolutions and then hand the physical certificate to the training officer or other administrative personnel.

Now, the user can scan the certificate and the Administrator can view it right from the TargetSolutions platform!

Publish Articulate Presentations as SCORM Courses with TargetSolutions

Attention all clients using Articulate Presenter! Did you know you can publish Articulate files as SCORM courses? Publishing your presentation as a SCORM course enables you to set the minimum amount of time a learner must spend with the content before being able to finish the course and receive credit. You can also build a test using Articulate’s test-building tool (QuizmakerTM) and have the scores populate in your completion reports.

The TargetSolutions platform supports SCORM compliant courses from all sources, but the easy to use Articulate platform makes creating them a cinch! No coding experience is required, simply follow these instructions to publish your Articulate presentation as a SCORM course. For information on how to upload the course, log in to your TargetSolutions account, select the Help tab, Browse Administrator Support and then search “Articulate.”

Do not have Articulate? Check out this link and then contact your Account Manager to purchase the program through us at a discounted rate.

TargetSolutions Embraces NAEMSE Standards

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published a new set of guidelines for EMS education and training and TargetSolutions is implementing the changes.

Previously under the Department of Transportation, the NHTSA’s shift to the National EMS Education Standards formally took place in 2009. Since then, agencies throughout the nation have been gradually incorporating the new guidelines into their training, including TargetSolutions.

Updates to our EMS catalog will include terminology changes, the introduction of new skills and information, and augmented content that will provide a more comprehensive overview of each course topic.

TargetSolutions strives to address the precise knowledge and skill sets specific to each level of pre-hospital care provider. Under the new NAEMSE standards, TargetSolutions will be better able to deliver accurate information to EMS professionals everywhere, so they can safely and effectively do their job.

Who Says Earning a Positive ISO Rating for Fire Departments Has to Be So Difficult?

If you are like most training officers, you have had your share of headaches recording training in preparation for an audit by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). With TargetSolutions’ software, the entire ISO rating for fire departments process is simple.

TargetSolutions has created powerful tools to help you prepare for ISO. We provide access to ready-made, customizable training templates created just for improving the ISO rating for fire departments. After delivering these activities to personnel through our platform, TargetSolutions industry-leading tracking system does the rest. When ISO comes to analyze your employee training records, you will be ready with well organized, detailed training reports.

If you are still tracking training the old-fashioned way, you will be amazed how TargetSolutions’ easy-to-use and efficient recordkeeping applications keep everything logged. Even more importantly, the ISO will be too when looking at your data.

“TargetSolutions has created a records system that clearly allowed our organization to comply (with its ISO audit),” said Guy Keirn, who is a training chief with Pinellas Park Fire Department in Florida. “The process of completing the training section of the report for ISO was seamless using TargetSolutions.”

Are you a client looking to maximize the platform’s capabilities in preparation for ISO? If so, TargetSolutions is here to help! Just e-mail your account manager for information or call (800) 840-8048 for assistance.

TargetSolutions Offers EMS Continuing Education Credits for Individual Customers

Are you an EMT looking to stay certified? Do you know an EMT who is out of work but trying to keep their certification? If so, TargetSolutions has the answer.

In addition to being the No. 1 choice for departments looking to remain compliant and track training records, TargetSolutions makes its EMS catalog available for individual customers. Users can easily and affordably purchase and earn EMS CE credits for individuals with TargetSolutions.

“By offering EMS professionals our courses, they have an easy and affordable way to earn EMS CE credits for individuals,” said Thomas Woodward, who is TargetSolutions’ executive VP of sales and marketing. “The convenient access through our learning management system combined with our accreditation guarantees a consistent, high-quality educational experience every single time.”

When an individual signs up with TargetSolutions, they receive access to online training courses for two years at one low price. The user gains administrative rights on the platform and is able to assign themselves any course in their library. Individual course libraries are determined by each states certification requirements, including states that require CECBEMS. Once the courses are completed, the user can submit the certificate they receive to their state.

With this offering, TargetSolutions has made it easy and affordable for EMS professionals to stay certified.

Since our inception in 1999, TargetSolutions has been committed to providing the industry’s very best online training content. We take great pride in the fact our web-based library features more than 160 hours of EMS recertification courses that have been accredited by various regulatory agencies. TargetSolutions’ EMS content is accepted in almost every state. Please check online for more information about your state.

“At TargetSolutions, we strive to continually improve our EMS library because we understand that good, comprehensive training not only makes life easier, it actually saves lives,” said TargetSolutions’ Content Architect Jeremy Lynch.

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Top Five Principles for Incoming Rookie Firefighters

Blog by Brian Ward
Officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia

Awhile back I asked my crew members their opinions on the top five principles for rookie firefighters. I had everyone write down their ideas, I mulled it over, and then put together my own list.

The newcomer was entering the field with the basics (Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazmat Operations and EMT-I). Our academy does a good job of preparing these firefighters with an extensive 32-week recruit school. However, adapting to the field and expanding on the basic items learned in recruit school can prove difficult if the field personnel do not set the tone on the newcomers very first day.

As I thought about what five principles I wanted to pass on, several jumped to the front of my head. In order to keep rookie firefighters from mental overload, or confusing them with 10,000 different policies and guidelines, I wanted to get right to the most important things they need to understand.

Now, I’ve seen published lists of what rookie firefighters should know in different magazines before and those reports are generally applicable to all fire departments. My major concern, though, was to identify specifics pertaining to our crew, apparatus and territory. I decided there were no barriers to what types of principles I would instill. These principles could be anything from equipment location to station duties.

The list below contains the items I decided to be the most important. I believe that if everyone in our station follows these simple rules, it will ensure everyone goes home safely and all the other skills and attitudes will fall in line:

1. We are a motivated crew. We train every day, including Sundays for at least one hour. Accept it. Be the first to participate in the drills and train as if your life depends on it because you know what, it does!

2. There is no I Can’t on the incident scene. The same thing goes for the training grounds. There is no I Can’t, only I Won’t. If you’re unable to complete the drill, do it again and again until you’re successful.

3. Listen before acting. Do exactly what the officer tells you to do on the incident scene, and stay one step ahead of the officer. For example, if the officer has his bunker pants on, you should already have your pants, coats, gloves and helmet on. Understand the difference between thinking ahead and freelancing.

4. Learn your duties and do them before you’re told. This will earn you respect in the station that will turn into respect on the incident scene as you gain experience. Crew camaraderie and integrity starts in the station.

5. Learn the equipment on the apparatus. One tool equals one compartment opened.

These items are simple in concept and should be upheld in the station. Simply talking to your new rookie could be the difference in him becoming an asset, or a liability. As a leader, do not allow the motivation of the new firefighter to slip away. That goes for everyone in your crew.

If we follow these principles, I believe we will be better individually, and as a team. Remember, in the very beginning, you have the chance to mold new firefighters into what they will be for the next 30 years. It’s an important responsibility to get them started on the right track.

As always train hard, take care and be safe.

Editor’s Note: This article originally posted with TargetSolutions in November of 2010.

About the Author
Brian Ward is an engineer/acting officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia. He is a past training officer, chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council. He is a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and the Membership Task Force Co-Chair and Live Fire Instructor for ISFSI. Brian was recently awarded the National Seal of Excellence from the NFFF/EGH.

 

Community Resources Connects the TargetSolutions Network

cb-community-resources-overview

Developing custom training is time consuming and expensive, especially when creating programs from scratch. With TargetSolutions’ Community Resources, a file sharing network for fire departments, departments have the ability to easily utilize and share information, including training presentations, videos, policies and much more with other clients and community members.

Community Resources has been coined “Google on steroids for the fire service.” Thousands of organizations have access to this robust file-sharing application, so it is easy to search and find relevant files and resources covering the specific topic you want to cover. Once you have found what you are looking for you can easily incorporate it into your own training activities. It’s exceptionally cost effective and it could not be easier.

Benefits of the application include the following:

  • Utilize and distribute valuable training content shared by other agencies
  • Share your agency’s effective training resources with other agencies
  • Save time and money by leveraging other agencies’ training resources

“Community Resources is a way for instructors to network and share information,” said Eddie Buchanan, who is the past president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. “If there is a program they have done that they are proud of, they can put it out there for everyone to use. They can also look at what others have done for some help. It is really a great way to share in a community setting.”

If you would like more information on how this application can benefit your organization, please click here. And if you have any questions, contact us at (800) 840-8046.

Any Advice on How to Improve the Platform? TargetSolutions Is All Ears

Over the past six months, clients have been using the new enhancement request form to suggest improvements to our platform. Using a written approach to gather these great ideas has made it easier to prioritize our development pipeline.

A recent success involved a request to allow an e-mail notification to be sent when a course is assigned. By July, this particular request jumped to the front of the line based on the feedback we were receiving. We built and released this feature in August!

We have also completed a number of submitted usability tweaks, including the ability for an activity to be recorded as complete by administrators only (Lt. Bobby Pitman at Polk County Fire Rescue), expanding the character limit on the Bulletin Board (Capt. Chris Zervas at Washington D.C. Fire Department), and many more.

Our goal has always been to constantly think of how improve our platform. And there is no advice better than that of the clients using it every day.

We want to hear from you! Contact us at (800) 840-8048.

TargetSolutions Helps Clients Achieve Better Compliance with Upgraded E-mail Alert Functionality

TargetSolutions realizes just how critical total compliance is to its clients operations. That’s why we’ve taken great steps to make sure no assignments ever go unnoticed. To ensure users are always made aware of new courses and activities, TargetSolutions has made significant improvements to its already robust notification capabilities.

Site administrators now have the ability to notify users of new items directly from the Create New Assignment application. Now, when administrators are creating a new assignment for their members – after selecting the assignment or activity and the users who will receive it – they have two options inside an E-mail Settings box: E-mail users when the assignments are available, as well as E-mail users when the assignments are overdue.

This way, administrators will be able to send an e-mail alert. Previously, administrators relied on the Notification System inside the platform or monthly user summary reports to inform users about their new assignments.

“We wanted to make the new feature as easy to use as possible and I think we’ve done that,” said TargetSolutions’ VP of Operations Alex Day. We find that our users log in to the platform at different rates, but most people check their e-mail regularly. Having these e-mail alerts go directly to users made sense for departments. Now they will be able to know right away when they have new training that needs to be done and it will help improve compliance.

Site administrators will also no longer receive duplicated e-mail notification alerts on the same credential for different users. When multiple users need to take action on the same credential they will now be combined into one e-mail to administrators.

Also, TargetSolutions has discontinued the monthly summary report for users. They will now receive periodic inactivity reminders in addition to new assignment notification e-mails. Both of these reminder e-mails are in text-only format, rather than the HTML-based monthly summary reports, helping ensure that e-mails will not be intercepted by filters that block unfamiliar addresses.

“These new e-mail alerts put more control in the hands of administrators,” said TargetSolutions’ Product Manager Misty Pratt. “Notification e-mails can be sent right when an assignment is created, which gives more visibility to assignments than the previous monthly summary e-mails. This was something that was heavily requested and it feels really good to deliver for our clients.”

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.