Flip Your Training

FLIPPED FIRE TRAINING HEADERHere’s a great explanation and definition of the concept of “flipping the classroom” from — ever so appropriately —

This site is a perfect complement to and our theme of “Where the Student-to-Instructor Ratio is Always 1:1!” and is written in partnership with my good friend Jason Hoevelmann of “A Firefighter’s Own Worst Enemy” fame!


Safe Stories

My good friend and brother firefighter Angelo Rizzuto is a kid and a great storyteller.
My good friend and brother firefighter Angelo Rizzuto is a kid and a great storyteller.

I’m not sure there’s anyone more focused on the importance of storytelling in the fire service than we are (especially as a means of training our replacements) — but “How stories make firefighting safer” by my good friend Chief Tom LaBelle  is a great refresher and reinforcement of this concept.

Read his story on the importance of storytelling at

See also:


What Are You Doing To Help?

2012-06-11_08-58-16_233It’s been a busy past few months as you can tell from the lack of recent posts other than the occasional Tweet on that Twitter thing.  Currently, I’m in my last course to complete my masters degree in Public Administration.  Look out fish of Lake Erie, because I will be seeing you soon.

601559_10151490964628928_578478368_nphotoChief Schmittendorf dropped in on Huron, Ohio on his way to present at a class a few weeks back.  A group of firefighters met at a local diner with monster sandwiches.  We continued on with a quick tour of several firehouses and posed in front of the Erie bush by the county office building.

His message and ability to relate with all firefighters is a great characteristic to have.  Are you someone sought after for instruction, advice, and purposeful direction?

At the end of March, I had the chance to head to South Carolina to teach with some rescue greats.  Again, this group of seasoned veterans has an amazing ability to mentor, instruct, and train the next generation.  Are you preparing your successors to pass on the knowledge for years to come?

Hasenmeier (sans a mustache), Wilcox, Vasbinder, Burden
Hasenmeier (sans a mustache), Wilcox, Vasbinder, Burden

The second weekend of April, I had a chance to instruct at an acquired structure burn.  It really is inspiring to see the classroom knowledge of new firefighters translate to productive efforts on the training ground.  Are you teaching, being innovative, or truly inspired to make the next generation great?


Last, but not least for this quick post is short video from parts of the 2013 FDIC & NFFF stair climb that over 400 firefighters participated in.  What an awesome experience to be a part of.  Are you training your replacement for the future and teaching them about the traditions and history of years past?

 Train Your Replacement!

Should Firefighters Read More Often?

My personal library is often used by brothers in the fire service.
My personal library is often used by brothers in the fire service.

Last night I was sitting in our living room reading a book while the TV was blaring a kids show and my three daughters were partaking in their usual evening game of “make a mess out of the house”.  My oldest daughter (7) stopped and said, “Dad you’re a fast reader, your almost done with that book.”  I went on to tell her that I am not the fastest reader in the world, but you get faster the more you read.  It will soon be a challenge for her to read books faster and faster to keep up with Dad, I’m sure.

In a few years she will understand that by reading you also become better at comprehending, thinking analytically, being adaptive, and writing.  For those that are wondering what book I was reading, it was Killing Kennedy by O’Reily and Dugard.  Take a deep breath, whether you are a fan of Bill O’Reily or not, the historical data and significance of that fateful day in Dallas, Texas is something worth reading for every American.  In addition, the book acknowledges President Kennedy’s 1000 + per minute reading ability.  This isn’t the only book on my list to read on my 3 week break from taking college courses for my MPA degree that restarts on January 4.

Here’s the significance to the fire service…many fellow firefighters have asked me what to read, especially the younger or those who see a promotional opportunity in the near future.  My usual advice includes:

  • You should read something about the fire service everyday.  Whether it is scrolling through the blog posts, trade magazines, or related news events.  Learn something new that you can adapt to how you perform your trade.
  • You should pick a fire related textbook and read a chapter a shift or once a week.  Don’t place a timeline on yourself like a required class.  Just read to improve your knowledge base.

The more you read, even as a member of a public service agency, the better you be at comprehending and writing.  These are two often-criticized aspects of our service that lesson the perceived level of professionalism.  Let’s change that one book at a time.

Read often and pass your knowledge on.

Lost in Cyber-Space

FireTrainingToolboxAre you a new training officer or instructor in need of training resources and you’re just not sure where to start? Are you lost in cyberspace?

Much of our challenge as trainers revolves around our ability or inability to navigate the vast spanses of the Internet to find the resources we’re looking for. The pendulum has swung from relying on the trickle-down method of communicating and sharing resources, to the now bigger challenge of sorting through all the web-available resources and quickly determining what’s legit and relevant to the needs of your organization. Continue reading “Lost in Cyber-Space”

Rescuing the Rescuers

We all know some great minds in the fire service that have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to pass on.  Some of these seasoned veterans are feeling left behind because of technology.  How can you help?

The flip side to training your replacements is training those seasoned veterans so they can easily pass their wealth of knowledge on in a manner that is conducive to the learning styles of the Gen Y’s, Millinials, WebGens, NextGens, Gernation “Whine”, Nexters, and Generation “I”.

Yesterday, one of the greatest rescue guys I know called and vented about his frustration with technology, especially powerpoint and social media.  Not that he disliked it, but lacked the knowledge on how to improve his presentations.  By the end of the conversation we decided to meet for some technology training that will undoubtedly help him pass the baton with a bit less stress.

This passing of knowledge is cyclical in nature.  The seasoned veterans have the knowledge, but may need a little help with this technology thing.  We can help each other build a more powerful and knowledgable force.

Reach out to Tiger Schmittendorf or Paul Hasenmeier for more on Training Your Replacement. Book now for 2013 conversations – GENERATIONS UNPLUGGED: Motivating, Training & Leading Today’s Firefighters 


Preparing Your Followership

This group of videos discusses everything from building your team, improving as a leader, motivation, to safety.  Your success is one thing, but what about preparing your followership.  You will need about 45 minutes to watch the series, but well worth the time.  We look forward to the discussion.

Understanding Your Audience

As we, the “more experienced” of the fire service are challenged with understanding and connecting with today’s firefighters — we look for resources to provide insight into those who we will someday leave the fire service to.

This post from offers perspective and resources as to how we make the best of our interactions with this Xbox generation of firefighters.

Check it out. Discuss it here.

ISFSI Aims High with Instructor Credentialing

The International Society of Fire Service Instructors has embarked on an ambitious credentialing program designed to provide instructors a direct pathway to develop and advance as professional educators and will bridge the gap between fire service professional development, the professional credentialing of instructors, and the accreditation of emerging training curriculum and eLearning platforms and programs.

Candidates submit a portfolio representing their combination of life experience, education, and training, to be reviewed by a council of esteemed fire service and education professionals. This council is empowered by the ISFSI Board of Directors to award the appropriate professional credentials based on the determined guidelines and criteria. A credential is valid for three (3) years at which time the credentialed instructor must renew their certification.

Click for complete details and the application guide:

It’s Always Sunny in South Dakota

Ok, maybe that’s not completely accurate but nonetheless, Paul Hasenmeier and I thoroughly enjoyed our time spent with the good folks who participated in “Generations Unplugged” at the South Dakota Fire Instructors Conference in Pierre January 14 & 15, 2012.

And, as promised, here are links to some of the resources we discussed. As we challenged the participants during and at the conclusion of the class, armed with all this new information and thought processes, the only remaining question is: “Whaddayougonnadoaboutit?” (Sorry, that’s the best New Jersey accent I could put in writing.)

Keep the conversation going. We’d love to share your feedback. Continue reading “It’s Always Sunny in South Dakota”

Today’s Teachable Moment-2012.1.11

Today’s teachable moments include reference articles from our primary contributors Tiger Schmittendorf and Paul Hasenmeier as our initial contributions to the framework of this new site:

1/11/12 – Generation Flux – Fast Company Magazine article sourced by Tiger Schmittendorf

1/11/12 – From the Xbox to the Box AlarmTiger Schmittendorf

1/11/12 – Video on how to make a balloon dog – social media instruction: – Paul Hasenmeier

1/11/12 – Article: Evaluation strategies for mentors, instructors, and officers: – Paul Hasenmeier Continue reading “Today’s Teachable Moment-2012.1.11”

Instructor | Instructor

With a target audience of formal and informal instructors, coaches and mentors in the fire service — Train Your Replacement [TYR] is designed to be a collection of resources and facilitated conversation based on two simple premises:

  1. For many of us, myself included, it took too long into our careers to realize that we’ve only ever really had one job in the first place: to train our replacements. (insert admission of guilt here…)
  2. The earlier and more often we instill the TYR attitude in today’s recruits, the longer and more successful careers they’ll have – and the richer and fuller experiences we’ll enjoy as the passers of the baton. (That’s Paul Hasenmeier’s phrase).

Continue reading “Instructor | Instructor”