Somewhere in the career of every fire fighter, from front line fire fighter to fire chief and every level in between, lurks a fire service instructor. These are the people who have been described as the “guardians of knowledge, skills, and abilities in the fire service”. Good fire service instructors are leaders and mentors, they are coaches, they evaluate and they are teachers. |
So what makes a good fire instructor? What are those attributes for which many are remembered by those they taught?
Top of the list is knowledge. A good fire service instructor knows their stuff. They make a point of researching, reading, understanding, studying, and keeping abreast of the latest techniques, innovations and technology. They know that it’s vitally important for them to understand all this in order to be able to successfully teach it to others.
A good fire instructor has experience and they also know their limits when it comes to areas in which they lack real practical experience and knowledge. Meaning they will not try and impart knowledge to others about things in which their own expertise is lacking. Rather they stick to teaching what they have both intensive knowledge about, and plenty of experience in, where they can draw on their own real-life on job experiences to add credibility to what they’re teaching.
The ability to be able to add relevance to content material being taught so that it resonates and ‘makes sense’ to their audience is another attribute good fire service instructors have in common. They can present what is being taught in a way that makes sense and their students can relate to. Having all the experience and knowledge under the sun on a topic means nothing if the topic matter being presented doesn’t make sense or can’t be understood by the audience. Using real life situations and events to demonstrate concepts and theories through story telling is a proven effective way to do this.
Instructors are responsible for providing motivation and passion – a motivated, passionate instructor creates motivated, passionate students and motivated, passionate students can’t wait to learn and then get out there to apply what they’ve learnt. Motivation and passion, or lack thereof, can also determine the quality of service a fire station provides. If members of a crew lack passion and motivation they’re not going to be interested in going above and beyond to do their job and sometimes an emergency situation requires this. Being able to lead others in a positive manner is also an important attribute. Turning mistakes into positive training opportunities instead of drawing adverse attention to them, for instance, reduces the risk of future, potentially deadly, mistakes and errors being hidden for fear of reprisals.
A good fire service instructor also remembers that at one time they too were new to the service and didn’t know much. They learnt from great mentors and teachers who played a big role in the successful instructor they’ve become themselves and they have the humility to acknowledge this. They also have the humility to admit that they still don’t know everything and that they’re always learning themselves, always open to new experiences and information. And that one of their commitments to the fire service is sharing the knowledge, wisdom and experience with others, the way they learnt from their mentors and instructors. The ultimate aim is always to ensure that the next generation of fire fighters are better, smarter, more up to date, more efficient and better than the preceding one.
Contact Ricky Rescue Fire Academy for more information about this and other careers in the Florida Fire Service.
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