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Listening in: Firefighters share valuable info on training in Minnesota

March 20, 2017

Minnesota State Fire Marshal Bruce West welcomes firefighters to one of several listening sessions around the state.
​Photo: Minnesota State Fire Marshal Bruce West welcomes firefighters to one of several listening sessions around the state, the first step in a study to improve firefighter training.


You probably give as much thought to firefighter training as you do to the color of your shoelaces. And that’s fine. But if your home is ever on fire, you’ll want to be sure that the people coming to put it out are as well-trained as they can possibly be, right?

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) feels the same way, and they’re doing something about it. They’ve teamed with a state agency called Management Analysis and Development (MAD) to study firefighter training in Minnesota with an eye to improving it as much as possible.

 To that end, they’re hosting firefighter listening sessions around the state. Firefighters from the area can come and give their opinions and observations about what works and what doesn’t with their current training along with suggestions about what would make it better and more effective.

For example, on March 2, SFMD and MAD got together in Inver Grove Heights with about 30 firefighters from the area. They asked them questions such as, “How will firefighter training need to change in the next 10 years?” As you can imagine, the firefighters had a lot to say.

When MAD’s session moderator asked attendees what has changed with firefighter training since they started, he got a lot of honest answers — some of them expected, some not. A lot of them said the technology has changed, allowing for a lot of changes in the way training is delivered. They said it has become safer and there’s a wider range available, and that it has been adapted to different learning styles.

But the job itself has changed, too. One firefighter observed that they are now expected to handle all hazards, not just fires, and another mentioned that more is expected of them because they’re asked to provide a much wider range of services than they used to be.

The listening session continued with several other questions that elicited thoughtful responses from the firefighters in attendance, all of which MAD was diligently recording. When they have completed all the listening sessions, they’ll compile a report, which they expect to finish by the end of June. With that report in hand, SFMD will have the information it needs to make sure firefighters around the state have the proper knowledge and skills to keep Minnesotans as safe as possible.