Top Free Firefighter Training Resources for Fire Instructors
by William Off
I have been a member of the Fire Brigade for over 15 years, but only recently discovered all of the free firefighter training opportunities and training available. I don’t feel that they were intentionally kept away from me, but I feel that we are doing a great disservice by not making these opportunities known to our members. The most amazing thing about these trainings is that most of them are free. There is no cost to firefighters, companies or municipalities. It does not affect your training budget. We have compiled a list of educational opportunities that you can access online with just a click. Education and knowledge are key to being successful at all levels, whether you’re a firefighter, police officer, instructor, or fire chief.
I work in New Jersey, so one of the first sites I found was the New Jersey Fire Department web page (https://nj.gov/dca/divisions/dfs). Go to the publication page and you will be directed to the section on fatalities on the job (LODD) and serious injuries. There are reports from state investigations. These start with a synopsis of what happened. This is useful for the reader as the factors and solutions are explained in detail. This remedy describes everything recommended by the Fire Safety Authority that could have prevented the accident from occurring. If you are a firefighter or company officer, check out these remedies. You can use that key point when you get company training and training.
At the country level, the NIOSH report on the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/default.html is another resource. We also provide a report with what causes emergencies and recommendations to help you avoid them. The NIOSH page is more up-to-date and includes national reports. These are great opportunities to find out what can happen and how you can prepare for those emergencies.
Firefighters often work closely with emergency management agencies. Webpage training.fema.gov has a number of her OEM certifications, all of which are free to take. What really stuck out to me was the Professional Developmental Series Certificate. This is a highly beneficial set of courses for firefighters and aspiring police officers alike. I think these are great starters for aspiring or new officers to help with the tasks they will face in the future.
The Professional Development Series certification includes:
- Introduction to IS-120 Exercise
- IS-230 Fundamentals of Emergency Management
- IS-235 Emergency Plan
- IS-240 Leadership and Influence
- IS-241 Decision Making and Problem Solving
- IS-242 Effective Communication
- IS-244 Volunteer Development and Management
These seven short courses are self-study programs. There are many other free courses as well. There is a registration section that provides his SID number to enter when taking the test for certification. There are hundreds of courses available, both in the classroom and online.
An additional resource provided by FEMA is the National Fire Academy, which can be accessed through its main website, usfa.fema.gov. We currently host 41 courses that you can sign up for and attend. Some of the courses for firefighter and police training that I would like to highlight are:
- Q0297 Awareness of Command and Control Decision Making in Multiple Alarm Incidents
- Q0133 Firefighter Safety: Calling May Day
- Q0751 Principles of Building Construction
- Q0426 Overview of Fire and EMS Supervision and Control
- Q0368 Movement of fires in detached houses
- Q0880 Administrative Tools for Emergency Services Leaders
- Q0843 COMMUNITY RISK ASSESSMENT OVERVIEW
Another great training resource based in New Jersey is keanfiresafety.com. Firefighters can use their Firefighter ID number and registration to create an account. We offer web-based courses as well as instructor-led, face-to-face courses. Most of these courses are designed to provide continuing education credits for inspectors, instructors, and firefighters. These courses vary from half a day to several days. Lecturers and presenters come from all over the world. Some of the classes are:
- We’re Just Humans: Understanding Fire Scene Behavior, New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Deputy Chief Thomas Dunn
- FDNY Commander Deputy Director Thomas Dunn Thinks Like an Incident
- Initial concern for the commander of the first incident, MA Secretary Moran. and Lieutenant Louis Passiak.
- Fire Size Up, Captain Dibrow and Battalion Commander Seeberger, County Hudson, Bayonne FD
- Principles of Dynamic Leadership, Bayonne FD, Hudson County Captain Dybrow and Battalion Commander Seeberger
The use of YouTube for fire department training is often biased. In my opinion, there are ways to use YouTube to your advantage as a firefighter or police officer. When looking for information about training and drills, start with your department’s standard operating guidelines. In the department I belonged to, we used tri-fold ray for cross ray. After reviewing multiple examples of trifold lay line pulls, another captain and I ran each one ourselves. I decided on two good ways and incorporated them into my training. Some methods may not be approved by your department, so do your research and talk to your training personnel before attempting to use anything you see online.
Some of my personal favorite YouTube channels are FDIC and Fire Engineering. They provide keynote speakers from the FDIC to several industry leaders and tabletop discussions on hot topics. The fire engineering training minutes also have a section on what I saw, did, explained, and taught firefighters. We also learned when firefighters used these skills in real calls. What’s more, listening to different speakers will allow you to go down the rabbit hole to find the one that inspired you. I’ve spent hundreds of hours watching, learning, and listening.
A final example of free online education is a seminar. Many can be found on YouTube. For example, several local divisions feature FDIC International keynote speaker and best-selling author Frank Viscuso. step up and lead. I first heard him talk a few years ago at a local fire station. I was inspired by his leadership values. Then a few weeks later I found him talking again about an hour away. I got in touch and was able to bring a new lieutenant to experience Chief Biscuso’s presentation. The new police officer was very inspired and thanked me for pointing me to his source of knowledge. Since then, I have attended two more presentations by Secretary Biscuso.
Examples of FDIC keynote speakers on YouTube:
FDIC 2013: Firefighter Standards, Oklahoma City (OK) Fire Department, Battalion Commander Michael Walker
Frank Viscuso: It’s time to step up
Mike Dugan: Why Are We Here?, Captain Mike Dugan, FDNY
2009 FDIC “Disappearing Culture” Speech, Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY
FDIC International 2019: Lieutenant Paul Combs, Bryan, Ohio Fire Department
fire engineering Video on YouTube:
The Can, Training Minutes, Lt. Mike Champo, FDNY
Bent Enter Search, Training Minutes, Lt. Mike Champo, FDNY
Engine Company Duties: Fire Fighting and Clearance, Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY
Punch Techniques, Training Minutes, Lt. Mike Champo, FDNY
Company officer and firefighter training, tabletop
Bringing enterprise-level training to the tabletop
There are multiple sources of knowledge, both online and in person. Do not use only one source for new information. please look for it. Check your local department for seminars and training. The first time I saw the value of this kind of face-to-face training was in a fire instructor class. As the instructor asked questions, we all started discussing different calls and how to handle them. I noticed the instructor sitting at the desk while we all continued to pitch ideas and talk on various phone calls. After about 15 minutes he stood up and said, “Do you know what you did there?” We all looked at each other. He said it was a lesson for all of us to hear different ways of doing things from different departments. Meeting face-to-face allowed us to learn from each other and gain knowledge from outside our department. Don’t just listen to the superficial message, get a holistic understanding of how the message is being conveyed.
William Off I have been a firefighter for over 15 years and work as a nurse at Virtua Mount Holly Rehabilitation Facility. He started his career with the Hammonton (NJ) Fire Department and is a Firefighter with the Winslow Township Fire Department and the Winslow Emergency Management Agency (OEM). He works as an Emergency Medical Technician in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and holds numerous Fire, EMS, and OEM certifications in addition to his New Jersey Practical Nursing License.