By Stephen F. Shaw, Jr.
“The greatest thing about being part of the training bureau is that we get to see the members of our department more than anyone else.” In my years with the Fort (FL) Lauderdale Fire Rescue Training & Special Operations Bureau, I have started every class with this same message. If you’ve had the most fortunate experience of working within your agency’s training division, you are aware of the amazing effect training can have on the skill level, aptitude, and morale within your agency. You also know the challenges – the crazy workload; the multiple classes you find yourself presenting; that feeling of never being able to “keep up,” the many classes you need to attend to stay fresh; and the constantly growing to-do list that never seems to have an end. Yet there is also arguably no greater vantage point from which to influence, communicate with, and create positive change within your department than in the training division – and that advantage is all at your fingertips every single day.
As with many paths in the fire service, taking on the role of the Training Chief is a crash course in prioritization, organization, and the realization that many of your lofty goals may have to take a back seat to all the various required moving parts within your department. Here are some tips that every new training chief should know.