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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Fire-Rescue Commission endorses minimum training standards

By Jan. 1, 2013, every fire and rescue provider—volunteer and career—will have to complete almost 1,000 hours of training in 34 different classes if they want to be a command-level officer.

(The county’s training chief, Jeff Bailey, said the county does not expect any volunteer to complete all of these courses in two years, but if a person wants to serve as a command-level officer, that person will need to have those 34 classes completed. Also, some members may already have a lot of these certifications.)

An entry-level member could be required to take up to 424 class hours of training to meet the standards.

The Fire and Rescue Commission tonight endorsed those minimum training standards. Pages 6-11 of this document show the levels of training standards.

Although Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue member Eric Lasky told the commission earlier that more work and discussion is needed before these standards are approved, Chancellor’s representative on the commission, Kevin Dillard, did not make any comments about the program.

Commission member Wanda Gardner, with Spotsylvania Volunteer Rescue, said she didn’t understand why an EMS provider would have to take a class in pump driver operator. Her concern was the only one raised by the three people who serve on the commission and represent the three volunteer agencies.

(According to Bailey and the breakdown of training levels, an operator of an ambulance, such as Gardner, will not be required to take driver pump operator and rural water supply. If a person wanted to operate an ambulance AND an engine, he or she would need to take those courses)

The commission unanimously endorsed the standards. These standards were created as a result of internal and external reviews of a Feb. 5 fatal fire. You can read about that fire here.

In the coming days, I will be working on a story for the newspaper to get reaction from supervisors, Lasky, volunteers and career fire and rescue officials. I will talk to County Administrator Doug Barnes, who is leading this effort to improve the combined fire and rescue system.

Jeff Bailey, the county’s director of fire and rescue training, and Fire and Rescue Chief Chris Eudailey spent several minutes explaining the process of how the training standards were selected.

Bailey said the process started in late June when Barnes asked him and other fire and rescue officials to begin formulating a training plan. There was an Aug. 28 summit at Germanna Community College, at which Bailey presented in a powerpoint the training levels the system was considering. The meeting was public and attended by career and volunteers.

“From that point, there was an e-mail to chief officers of each agency asking for one representative to be a representative of the department to speak. That meeting was Sept. 16 at Spotsylvania Volunteer Rescue Squad’s training center.”

This meeting was not made public. Bailey said each agency was represented at this meeting and he told everyone that all of the ideas and concerns would be taken into consideration, but there would be no guarantee that every single idea or change  would be used in the final minimum training standards. Bailey said he met with Barnes, Eudailey and a career captain to review all of the concerns raised at that meeting.

“All of them we looked at very hard,” Bailey said.  “Some of them we did not put into the program. It was a group decision. The ultimate mission was to serve residents best.”

Bailey also said that the two-year time frame  was not picked out of the air. He said county officials surveyed other departments in the state and the most popular response was it should take two years for the system providers to achieve the standard training levels.

Eudailey then “reinforced” Bailey’s comments by saying the volunteers and career personnel on the front line of emergencies need to have this training.

“Is this a perfect plan that lies before you? Probably not. There has also been some misunderstanding about what is required as far as people in these positions,” Eudailey said.

Eudailey said he wants to review the program after six months to see how close the system is to reaching the training standards. He said it is in the best interest of the system to “build a bridge to where we are now and to where we’re going.”

“This is a path that we’ve not been down before. We are at point A and we want to get to point B. As we go down this road together, we are going to need some help.”

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/spotsygovt/2010/10/13/fire-rescue-commission-endorses-minimum-training-standards/

  • Sam

    I have to say. Ms.Gardner is right, thats absolutely rediculous and serves to do nothing but run people out of EMS. Is that what we really really want?

    Certainly, there’s alot of value in the person who has completed Pump Operator school. An analogy I am thinking is ,it’s like making sure every Carpenter has course work in Earth Science…just in case!
    Before any of these standards hit the street they need to be looked at and scrutinized, I am certain they need to go thru another level of questioning.

  • LarryG

    Yep. If the stated goal is to develop ownership in the process and the recommendations – you won’t get there with this kind of back-door approach to decision-making.

    I’d like to see the county give the people who do the work – a legitimate opportunity to participate in the process because at the end of the day – the program will be much stronger the more buy-in you have.

    The county has a bad habit sometimes of saying they are going to include a constituency in a a process – and in reality – it’s more window dressing than actual participation.

    The school system are even worse IMHO.

    It sort of makes a mockery of the term “stakeholders”.

  • bhaas

    What can we conclude from what has happened to date and the apparent lack of dialog from the vol commission reps?

    Is there a lack of knowledge and/or concern on the part of Mr. Eudailey, Mr. Dillard, Mr. Bailey, and others in the management chain regarding the NEED to gain the “rank and file” support and agreement on these standards?

    Alternatively, is there a situation amongst the “rank and file” that no matter what is presented it will not gain “their” endorsement.

    This is very disturbing and does not bode well for the future.

  • Sam

    In the fire service in general I have seen this since the 80′s, when our world collided with business and higher education.
    You are both exactly right. But remember too many hands in the pot and they’ll go nowhere. I would like to see some transparency here and a logical explaination of the requirements.
    Sure, some of it is self explanitory. But at some point someone COULD be just making themselves look like they deserve a crown for having extra classes. And lets not forget…taxpayers are paying for this. remember the Earth Science for Carpenters theory.

  • n8

    i think Dan T. should join the department, take all the classes, and still keep his day job. you will find out real quick how hard it is to juggle this.

    i am missing 2 classes, and wont be able to get them. because of my “real job” schedule. 1 class i need is allways offered 2 nights a week, for a couple months. if it was just on the weekend i could make it.

    oh well, ill just get my app like everyone else is and run somewhere else.<—–there is alot of people doing this allready.

  • dtelvock

    Hi N8,

    At last night’s meeting, Chris Eudailey and Jeff Bailey both said that training opportunities will increase, they are hiring a part-time employee to keep track of training and certifications, and that classes will be available at the most convenient times for volunteers.

    Many volunteers already have a lot of this training. I hope that helps.

  • n8

    classes will be available to the 18-20 year olds who still live at home with there parents.

    i know they say that training opportunities will increase. but they told me the other day that you need to look for classes regionaly(?) i have only taken 2 class in spotsy. and the 12 other classes have come from other counties. and it is the same with alot of vols

    its very hard for a late 20 early mid 30 adult to make classes with job , wife kids etc.

    ill just keep doing what i am doing, taking classes when i can and when the time comes for it to take affect.

    they can just boot me out

  • dtelvock

    N8,

    You are free to call me at 374-5438. I would like to talk more about your concerns. Why didn’t your department representative mention these concerns last night?

  • LarryG

    1000 hours for a volunteer who has a regular job sounds pretty hard to achieve to me.

    Even if you devoted both Saturday and Sunday – you’re be more than a year in getting qualified if you are a brand new recruit.

    Where is the entry level path?

    on volunteer participation – you are going to have some folks who are not going to contribute and will obfuscate but others that would actually contribute – to exclude them is to damage the process.

    You need to have buy in from a good number..

    It does not mean that everything they want will be done but it does mean they might win a few and lose a few – and in the end – know that they had a say in it and did contribute.

    These “end around” processes that blather on about “stakeholders” and “participation” are .. in my view.. hateful things….

    they insult the people who would contribute and makes it sound like that NONE of the Vols have anything worthwhile to contribute.

    I know that Mr. Barnes and the BOS are on the bubble to accomplish reforms – but it is absolutely imperative that they establish a more productive relationship with the Vols that actually want to see reforms also.

  • dtelvock

    Larry, the county spokeswoman emailed me this morning and said there is some confusion with the number of hours. Last night, a sheet was handed out that shows all of the classes that a member needs to take within two years and by each class was a block of how many hours for those classes.

    I was told that adding those hours up is not going to provide the correct number of hours. Maybe some classes overlap? I am waiting for the clarification/correction and will post it immediately.

    But, 1000 hours seemed to make sense when I added them up. 500 hours per year. A full time job is about 2000 hours a year. A part time job would be 1000 hours a year.

  • dtelvock

    Larry,

    Also last night Chris Eudailey and Jeff Bailey both explained the process and volunteer representatives from each of the three agencies were at the Aug. 28 summit and the closed meeting in September.

    Eric Lasky, a volunteer with Chancellor, said last night that he was on a subcommittee of Chancellor members that was brainstorming training standards. He said he was surprised to get an e-mail recently that stated the decision has been made and the minimum training standards have been developed.

    Right now, I am just trying to figure out what went wrong here? No one said anything last night that provided any idea of what concerns vols had about the standards, other than Wanda’s question.

    My phone is dead and I’ve called a lot of people today.

  • LarryG

    thanks Dan. well.. in my view – you need the feedback from the committed VOLs – throughout the process. You don’t have to follow all of their suggestions but listening to them is healthy and I suspect they know some stuff that others could benefit from in making decisions.

    I would think that requirements for brand new recruits are pretty important because if you set the bar too high – you’re going to essentially be pointed to an all-paid staff.

  • poppy2_3

    Ok first of all… to be a volunteer firefighter is really not that much training…those ICS classes are done at your on time online, hazmat ops is included in your firefighter academy. Vehicle Rescue is 2 days on a weekend and mayday awareness is 8 hours. Relax… some people on here and probably most of the ones who are upset is because now the county is making a real effort in making sure people have skills and are confident and not just letting anyone be trusted with the lives of citizens and team mates….

  • CGA

    All of these goals are attainable and reasonable. A two time frame is mor than acceptable.

  • CGA

    Sorry, Two year time frame

  • CGA

    All of these goals are attainable and reasonable. A two time frame is mor than acceptable. I obtained my FF2 EMT B and EVOC 3 while working a full time job that switched from nights to days every week. It can be done you just need to make a comittment. Also have three kids and family committments.