So recently you may have seen the posts I made on Facebook and Twitter about this website/brand (Black Helmet Brotherhood) changing and going a different direction with a new look, new logo, new slogan, etc. What you probably didn’t notice though is that it was a test if you will. A small project of mine to see how followers in the fire service reacted. An experiment to see who would jump on the bandwagon and follow something new.
Over the past year I have noticed on social media, in print magazines, on forums, etc that there is an abundant amount of conferences, expos and classes around the U.S dealing with the fire service. 20 years ago there were about 2-3 big national conferences a year in the United States, but now it seems that every month there is another “Big” class or conference. Now while I am all for learning from others, especially those with fireground experience over many years, what doesn’t thrill me as much is seeing every Tom, Dick and Harry in the fire service having a class of their own or being the presenter at conferences. While we can all learn from each other and we all bring a little something different to the table, just because you spent 12 hours creating a slideshow and a class about “Fighting Fire in Beach Front Tiny Homes” doesn’t mean you should be instructing others and giving your spiel. I mean just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
What is happening in the fire service today is there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians. You know that reference right? If not, look it up. Everyone rather have their own class and be the “Instructor” or have the big social media following, rather than sit back, listen and learn.
What is being noticed at these conferences, classes, expos, etc is that there are “Instructors” with resumes that state they are ‘A Captain with 12 years in the East Side Podunk Heights Fire Department’. What that bio or resume leaves out though is that their department only has 15 members, 9 of which are volunteer and the community they serve only has a population of 8,000 residents and their yearly call volume is around 300 with only about 5 fires a year. Hell, I have seen alot of “Instructors” that don’t even have their Fire Service Instructor I, but somehow they have bullshitted their way into being a leader of a class. Now the reason this is an issue is because unless you did some research on who your instructors are and their background and their knowledge and their experience, you may think they are the best “Instructor” in the fire service, just due to them being loud, being hyper, being aggressive, being a good slide show presenter, having alot of videos on youtube or having a good following on Facebook!
The reason these types of things are a problem is because there are alot of young, eager, passionate firefighters in the fire service willing to learn, so they save up and pay good money to go to these classes and conferences and they hear these spiels and think it’s the gospel and the only way things should go! I mean In today’s world, you can post on social media and gain a good following of people and a majority of those followers will take your word on whatever you post and jump on your bandwagon just because others are doing it and “Liking” or “Sharing” your information, even if its wrong or not the correct thing.
What the fire service needs is instructors with actual fireground experience over many years. We need instructors that actually TEACH and not those that just present slideshows and regurgitate the same shit others have said in the past. We need instructors with actual knowledge of the topic they are presenting a class on and not just reading a slideshow word for word and repeating notes they made from the internet. We need more hands-on training, with tips and tricks of things that have been learned over time. When I go to a conference or class, I want to hear from someone that has been there, done that and will show me hands on what they learned. I want a teacher, not just a puppet on stage talking about the 10 fires they have went to over the past 3 years. The fire service is over-saturating itself and unfortunately the end result will be watered down tactics and training. When you do find that class though where the instructor is someone that has been to alot of fires over the years and they know the material they are teaching like the back of their hand and they are a good instructor and not just a talker….LISTEN, TAKE NOTES and PAY ATTENTION!
” If pilots landed planes the way we stretch hose no one would fly ” ~ Ray McCormack
Once again, I will say it because I truly believe it, but you don’t have to go to a conference to learn something new and to be a good firefighter. Am I saying don’t ever continue your education and don’t ever go to a fire service conference or class? Hell No!! What I mean though is, Go out and pull some 1 3/4 lines, force some doors, cut up some cars, throw some ladders, tie knots, etc. The more you do it, the better you will be and all while doing it you can try new methods, some of which will work and some wont, but at least you will know and have hands on training! We as firefighters need to be good at our craft and experts in our field and unfortunately you wont get that by attending 10 conferences a year listening to the same power-point just told by different instructors.
” It’s not always the most talented guys that excel, usually it’s the ones who are great at marketing “
Now I appreciate all of you that have taken the time to read my rant. I appreciate all of you that follow us on Twitter and Facebook. I appreciate all of you that interact with us on this website and on social media. All I ask is that each and everyone of you take your time and do a little research on these classes and conferences you go to and the Instructors teaching them and of course don’t believe every single thing you see on the internet. Validate the material you read and the people you follow and don’t just jump on the bandwagon because others have. Just because someone does a podcast or livestream every 10 days doesn’t mean they are worth listening too. Oh, and last but not least……….We are not going anywhere 🙂
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Martinez has been in the fire service for 20 years with 18 of those years as a Firefighter with the City of Pensacola, FL. He also served 12 years in the United States Army and did 2 Combat Deployments. He is also the creator and owner of Black Helmet Brotherhood.