Fort Pickett Fire and Rescue hosts firefighter instructor course

Firefighters from multiple departments in central Virginia practice giving basic firefighting skills demonstrations during the Virginia Department of Fire Programs Instructor I certification course Feb. 27, 2019, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Mike Vrabel)

Fort Pickett, Va. — Firefighters from multiple departments in central Virginia are learning how to teach the region’s future recruits how to become firefighters during the Fire Instructor I class at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

The 42-hour course, hosted by Fort Pickett Fire and Rescue, teaches the students the proper method for teaching firefighting skills to potential new firefighters. The current class is set to graduate March 13, 2019.

Firefighters from Dinwiddie County, Blackstone, Colonial Heights, Richmond and Fort Pickett attended the course every Wednesday for six weeks, with 100 percent attendance required to graduate from the course. The group received classroom instruction on the proper method to teach basic firefighting skills, including how to interact with students and how to make sure they are grasping the concepts being presented.

(U.S. National Guard photo by Mike Vrabel)

Danny Clary, an instructor for the course and the assistant fire chief at Fort Pickett Fire and Rescue, explained what they are looking for out of their students.

“Did they use the equipment, did they make eye contact, did they cover all of the material? You have cover every piece of the lesson plan,” said Clary.

For those students who haven’t taught before, sometimes getting started can be difficult.

“Some people when they first start off, they get nervous, and they just read the lesson plan,” explained Clary.  “We try to enforce to them that they know the content before they start, and just use the lesson plan as a guide.”

After the classroom portion of the course, students take turns giving demonstrations of basic firefighting tasks to the other students, as if they are teaching them. The topics covered included donning turnout gear, operating a fire extinguisher, coupling hoses and forcing entry. They are then evaluated on their presentations by their classmates and their instructors.

After a final beginning-to-end presentation, the students then have to take a four-hour, 100 question written exam before they are Instructor Level I certified by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.

From there, the graduates have options. Some will go on to take additional instructor certification classes, and some will use what they’ve learned as building block to becoming a fire officer.

“To get Fire Officer I certification, this is a requirement, because you have to be able to teach and guide your people as an officer,” said Clary. “We’re building them up so they are qualified for any open positions we may have in the future.”

Clary hopes some of the students continue pursuing advancement as instructors.

“Hopefully along the way we’ve actually sparked someone’s interest to actually teach,” said Clary.