I recently was copied on an e-mail from a dear friend and a great fire service instructor and leader. We have spent more years than we care to admit fighting fire together. He had recently completed teaching a Fire Instructor I class. His thoughts are well worth reading:
"I am offering this message to the Fire Service Instructor I Candidates and have copied a few select like-minded professionals, because I feel your hard work should not go un-noted.
You have just completed 40 hours in the class and 40 to 60 hours in study. There were 12 terminal objectives in the program, and as you have come to know each terminal objective typically has 3 or more enabling objectives to aide you in reaching the final goal.
You may have learned things about computers that you never knew, like how to do headers and footers, make power point do ticks, or overcome “404 file” not found. You were forced to read a very difficult text, which did not talk about Snap tite, KME, and Akron, rather presented Blum, Hawthorn, and Maslow. You learned the difference between affirmative action and Title VII. Your learned what ADA really means, and who Buckley was. I AM CERTAIN YOU LEARNED, PREPARATION, PRESENTATION, APPLICATION, AND EVALUATION. In addition, with some trepidation, you discovered the difference between a difficulty index and a discrimination index.
While I have a high degree of confidence in your ability to pass both the written and skills exam, that is of little importance to me. What I know is that each of your traveled a road from some place in your life to a new place as a fire service leader. I watched you drop the issues of the past that may have existed with your sister departments, and take up a mantle for fire service professionalism. I saw the petty differences of generations of grandfathered animosity; flake off as if dead skin, to reveal a new fire service, focused on teamwork; and pride not in self, but each other.
I watched you stand guard over your fellow class mates, like a herd of elephants protecting a hurt (of heart not body), member of the herd. You bore your classmates during their weak times and likewise they bore you.
I have had the pleasure and honor to stand before more than 14,000 students, including this class. So let me offer how I feel about you as a group.
You came to the program with your own thoughts about your own strengths and weaknesses. Some of you thought that you knew everything. I suspect that all of you leave feeling as if you know very little.
“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand” Frank Herbert US science fiction novelist (1920 - 1986).
So let’s cut to the chase, several of you offered that you did not do as well as you wanted to, one person apologized for letting me down. Know this; you did not let me down. There was an objective 13. You may not have realized it was an objective, but it was. It dealt with the affective domain of leaning. “Fire and emergency service instructors can positively affect learner self-esteem and create a desire to learn and a determination to succeed. An instructor’s influence – that good or bad impression that affects learner’s attitudes and actions – is lasting.”
I saw a change in you. I saw the change from a fire service position of “I” to a fire service position of “WE”. That is the single thing that you needed to get from this program. That the success of the fire service lies in a focus on serving the public, learning, and professionalism. It lies in TEAM WORK. That is a what being a leader is about; and that is what a FIRE DEPARTMENT is. I am proud to have been a part of it. Good Luck on your testing!"
“Nothing happens by accident”