February 2020

Fire Departments are not businesses, they are critical infrastructure

Frequently we hear the comment that fire departments should run more like a business. Having two business degrees and starting multiple companies, I understand the temptation to run government entities as optimized machines. But one could not be more wrong, public entities fail when operated like a business, just as businesses could not be competitive if managed like a government entities.

Businesses are easily replaced and profit driven; Fire departments are critical infrastructure and community driven. Like your heart, fire departments cannot be replaced if they fail; there are no competitors to fill the void. When it comes to disaster response, the fire department is the community’s first and only option

February 2020

THE IMPORTANCE OF REFRESHER TRAINING : WHY ARE YOU DOING TRAINING!

  1. Is it just a “tick box”?
  2. Do you use an accredited training service provider
  3. Is your staff or yourself not important to ensure current effective knowledge and skills?

Read the article on importance of current/valid and refresher training. If you need your personnel to receive refresher training in emergency response, contact us : michelle@dynamicincident.co.za or 0782729089

Article:

The General definition of training: It is the process of learning the skills that you need for a job or activity by acquiring the knowledge, skills and abilities for effective performance.
Training should NOT just be an audit or promotion “tick box” for you or your company AND should be done by a recognized institution and NOT A friend of a friend. They should at least be an accredited training service provider, with qualified and registered facilitators, assessors and moderators as subject matter experts. Not everybody can present training, it is easy to give information, BUT IT IS A DIFFERENT think to explain the subject for use and implementation. We can all read from a book or a power point slide show!
Any training done JUST TO GET THE CERTIFICATE, will be ineffective in the long run, especially without refresher training within the subject(s). A piece of paper (certificate) might get you that new position, BUT it does not necessarily mean you can actually fulfill the function 100%. There is a MAJOR DIFFERENCE between theoretical knowledge and actual skills.
Certificates do not get the job done, people with knowledge, skills and abilities do. Doing regular refresher training will be far more effective and efficient with safety as priority and no EGO attached.
Going straight to the “problem” or should we rather say concern, when people think that the course (e.g. Incident Commander or Division or Group Supervisor, Logistic Section Chief, Fire Manager) they did 4 – 5 years ago, and not acting/working within that position on a regular basis, is still valid because they received a certificate and some form of “carding” after a signed off task book/job card/check lists.
Should REFRESHER training not be a standard? especially when we work or managed people during incidents?
We all know that knowledge fade over time, it is basically “use it or lose it” if we do not review (refresher training) from time to time.
Eight reasons to do refresher training:
1) It helps to build long-term memory
2) It reduces mistakes and improves productivity
3) It brings you back to speed after long break not implementing the training
4) It helps keep everyone on the same page and learning becomes part of the culture and not just a certificate
5) It keeps you up to date with the industry
6) It helps as a reminder important but seldom used information
7) It develops manager and supervisors into leaders
8) It identifies knowledge gaps and training needs
This brings me to the point of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) of people due to total of years in an industry or position.
There is nothing wrong with RPL, BUT should the following not at least be considered before just implementing RPL for a specific job or skill to be done:
• A one-day refresher session
• Provide a simulation/scenario-based assessment to see the outcome of work completed by the person
• Identify if the knowledge as skills is CURRENT and recommend refresher training where needed by doing a test
Paper (Certificates and reports) enough for you?? do the CURRENT TEST first, you might be surprised.
This article is not written against any person/company/organization/team or incident.

January 2020

The importance of wildland fire investigation training: Origin and cause determination presented by Dynamic Incident Management and facilitated by highly experience and internationally registered wildland fire investigator

Article:

The primary purpose of this course is to provide a consistent knowledge and skills base for the wildland fire investigator by determining the origin, how the ignition source met the materials first ignited and identifying the responsible party. Accurate origin and cause determination is an essential first step in a successful fire investigation and successful fire investigations are necessary in preventing unwanted wildland fires. The course is a five-day training programme and includes classroom lectures, activities and field exercises.  Full certification is only received after five investigation reports are completed and signed off by the facilitating agency.
  
Investigating a wildfire can seem an intimidating task as wildfires are driven by variable environmental condition such as fuel load, wind, weather and topography.  Fire suppression activities, such as first responders entering the scene, back-burns activities and changing fire lines, can influence the natural progression of the fire and affect fire patterns the investigator will have to interpret.
 
While being practiced and refined in some counties, wildfire investigation is a relatively new science in South Africa.
Many people, including seasoned high-ranking fire fighters, cannot accept that trained and experienced investigators are able to find the origin and cause of destructive wildfires due to this mindset, very few investigations are requested, resulting in the failure to determine the true cause of the fire and with it the collection of evidence that could lead to the apprehension of the offender(s).
 
The SAPS is not trained or experienced to undertake such investigations and it is the responsibility of the fire departments to determine if a malicious act was indeed the cause of the fire in question, due to the fire departments not always requesting the ‘Origin and cause’ investigation, the registered cases end up as dead ends.
 
The possible causes of wildland fires are varied and unpredictable, from lightning to arson to obscure events, however, if you understand the unique aspects of wildland fire fuels, behavior and causes and apply systematic investigative techniques, you are better prepared to determine wildfire origin, cause and responsibility.
 
To know what prevention strategies and programmes we should offer the community, we must first know what causes fires in our community. To know that, every fire must be thoroughly and properly documented, investigated and reported.  Spending effort on initiatives to prevent what is presumed to have been the cause is in many causes a waste of valuable time and money. 
 
The ‘Wildfire origin and cause determination’ course provides candidates with the necessary training, information and skills to be able to conduct such investigations whereby the scientific and forensic conclusion that is reached can be used for prevention programmes, civil claim litigation and/or in the procedure of prosecuting offenders.
 
Basic knowledge of wildland fire behavior, fuels, topography and weather is required to attempt the training of a wildland fire investigator.