Have you ever heard someone say "that's how we've always done it or it's worked since I've been here"? Unfortunately, these are common phrases in many departments across the country and while that fog nozzle works and the PPV fan has it's uses, it does not mean there are not other and in some cases better options.
I recently spoke with a group of firefighters and asked if any of them attend training outside their own department or state? The answer was a resounding "NO"! When I asked why, the response was not an answer, but a question; "Why would we"?
I gave them a quick and easy answer to the benefits of attending other training programs and classes, things they might see and learn, but could see this answer was not hitting the mark and dropped the subject. This started me to think and ask, why more members of the fire service never leave their 4-walls. I started by calling and talking to people I know have attended conferences and what other members thought of this, sadly the answers were all the same.
- I can't afford that shit!
- The department wont send me or give me the time off.
- What's in it for me?
- I'm too busy and have to work my part-time.
- Were not going to change anything.
- That's BUFF SHIT!
I heard a few other reasons, but these were the most common. I decided I wanted to have a better answer the next time someone asked me "why should I attend a conference"?
- You learn new techniques
- You build relationships
- Your more valuable to your organization
- Your safer for knowing more
- You build a network to call upon when you have issues or questions
- You gain knowledge and education not in the books
- It's fun
The fire service is ever changing, new studies and research is providing us more information then ever before. Yes, the majority of this information is on line and easily accessed through Google. However, the interactions with professionals that not only helped in conducting the research, but have applied this new information on the fire ground cannot not be fully understood reading a single article. This is where getting outside those walls allows you to interact, ask questions specifically about the subject that affects your department and how to best apply this new information or a new skill.
While some conferences are extremely expensive, there are others that are affordable and provide as much, if not more information and interaction. When choosing a conference, look for the following;
-The Instructors. Research the names associated with the conference and ensure they are legit.
-The cost does not always reflect the quality. Some events are all about the bottom line and not the students. If your not sure reach out to others and get their feedback.
-Choose an event that applies to your job or future position.
-Try and go with another member, this allows you to split travel and hotel cost if your coming out of your own pocket.
There are plenty of options out there and it's well worth the time and money to get out of your 4-walls. You can check our event calendar for some of things we attend and teach at.