Hearing the words “administrative training” is enough to make most action-oriented public safety professionals cringe. But the truth is, administrative training can be vital to our success in the fire service and beyond. Anything we can do in this area to develop our management, leadership, and technology skills can help us become better at our jobs, better leaders, and more well-rounded servants of our communities. Administrative training can also open doors to careers after the fire service. For this blog post, we’re going to focus on technology-related administrative training in the fire & EMS service.
Whether we embrace it or go along grudgingly, technology permeates everything we do in the fire service. That fire truck you just purchased: Yep, no less than a half dozen computers on board. We all know what the first two letters in CAD stand for: “Computer-Aided.” Let’s not forget the cool tech we’re seeing appear on our PPE, like the mask-mounted thermal imaging cameras to help us find our way through the smoke. And of course, there’s fire software like Emergency Reporting – which agencies around the world are increasingly relying on to manage their data and fire department reports. So how do we keep up with all this technological change when it’s hard enough to keep our computers’ operating systems updated? Tom Louis, ER’s Business Development Analyst and retired battalion chief with 22 years of fire service experience, offers his advice:
“First, I would focus on what lights your fire. That is, what are you passionate about in the fire service? Is it NFIRS, managing PPE, working on MDTs, or sifting through gigabytes of data to generate that perfect report for your stakeholders? Whatever you love about being in the fire service, there is almost certainly a technological element to it,” Tom says. “Learn as much as you can and then become your department’s expert on it.”
Tom offers some ideas to consider:
Taking classes on NFIRS:
All departments are (or should be) reporting to NFIRS. While not perfect, NFIRS is a true national standard that provides a repository for collecting the nation’s all-hazards response data. You’re also required to report to NFIRS in order to be eligible for AFG and SAFER grants. If you’d like to expand your knowledge in this area, the USFA offers a variety of both online and onsite classes on NFIRS. These are excellent opportunities to learn the intricacies of managing fire department reports and data. Many of ER’s own trainers have taken these classes.
Completing Competencies & Higher Education Courses:
The USFA’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) National Professional Development Matrices for every fire officer level include elements about technology and data analysis. Here are just a couple of examples of those competencies:
- Supervisory Fire Officer (FO I):
SFO-09 – Understanding basic principles of information technology and business computer systems for effective daily use.
- Managing Fire Officer (FO II):
MFO-01 – Understanding and using statistical data for basic descriptive measures, statistical inference and forecasting.
If you’re interested in a degree in Fire Administration, there are many regionally- or nationally-accredited colleges and universities that offer online programs, such as Columbia Southern University and the University of Cincinnati. These schools are two of many schools that offer FESHE-recognized degree programs. Investing time in administrative training courses or going for a full degree is well worth the effort in the long run.
“Embracing administrative training with technology, both hardware, software, and, most importantly, data management, is not only good for career advancement but for also helping you become a better manager, leader, and all-around fire service professional,” Tom says.
Tom gives a great example of how combining a love of the fire service and love of technology can enhance your value within your department: Jared Williams, Training Officer for the Lawton Fire Department in Oklahoma (pictured below on the right) not only holds a degree in Fire Technology from Western Oklahoma State University, he has become one of his department’s experts in data management. He attended an ER Regional Training Academy (RTA) event in Austin, TX and was also an invaluable participant at our Weatherford, OK on-site training event. Tom says that Jared is so good at using Emergency Reporting fire department records management software and understanding fire department reports and data analysis that other departments in his region have reached out to him as an indispensable resource. “Jared is an outstanding example of someone who has embraced technology and administrative training within the fire service,” he says.
Jared Williams (right), Training Officer for Lawton Fire Department (OK)
To read more articles about trends in the fire service as well as what’s new at Emergency Reporting, check out our blog at https://emergencyreporting.com/blog/