Instructors and Students
Back on January 14, 2009 the Board of Firefighter Personnel Standards and Education after one year of discussion made significant changes to the law on how students can take written examination for certification. The biggest challenge for students is that they must take certification examinations in order. The student must meet the prerequisite before they sit to take an examination. If an examination is taken out of order the test may be invalidated. We have been trying to educate and inform instructors and students since early 2009. We still experience a significant number of examinations being submitted where the students don’t meet the prerequisite. When a test is submitted where the prerequisites are not met then the tests are not processed and certifications are not issued.
Here are a couple of examples:
Problem A student who is 17 years of age takes a mandatory written and practical examination. Answer In order to take a written or practical examination a student must be 18 years of age. This test will not be processed.
Problem A firefighter takes a safety officer course and completes the examination and submits an application for certification. The firefighter is not a certified Fire Officer I Answer The application for safety officer certification will not be processed because the firefighter was not a certified Fire Officer I at the time of the examination. Action: Instructors review the prerequisite for every course of instruction. Ask the students to go on the IDHS website and bring documentation to prove they have met the prerequisites. Proctors – when giving a written examination have the student verify they have met the prerequisite.
You may have heard about audits being conducted by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. These audits are being done to insure compliance with the rules established by the Board of Firefighter Personnel Standards and Education. Additionally the audits are validating the integrity of the training system being provided throughout the State. Why an audit? We have heard over time from many Fire Chiefs that students complete certification training but can’t do the job. We began looking into this issue and found that in many cases Instructors and Evaluators were not actually conducting the skills examination. In some cases the evaluator simulated the skill. For the most part Instructors and Evaluators are trying very hard to make sure the students are tested and evaluated based upon the Board rules.
Here are a couple of examples:
An instructor submits applications for certification from a number of students for Fire Officer Strategy and Tactics. The evaluator is audited and admits that the practical skills examination was not conducted. This resulted in the Instructor being suspended for six months. The students were denied certification.
A second example relates to a Instructor II/III examination. Again the lead evaluator when audited admits that no practical skills were done. This resulted in the Lead Evaluator being suspended and the students Fire Instructor I certification being revoked and their Instructor II/III being denied.
Here is a third example of an Instructor II/III given a written examination for mandatory certification. All students achieved a score of 84% on the written examination; all students missed the same questions; all students provided the same answer to the same questions that were wrong. The instructor admitted in a telephone call that he had given the students the answers to some of the questions and that he must have answered some of them wrong. He did not want the students to get in trouble. These students were taking mandatory written test.
What is the Instructor to do? Where are the rules? What are the rules?
All of the resources for the Fire Officer Strategy and Tactics class for practical skills examinations and class scenarios are being placed on the IDHS website. Included on the website will be;
1. Instructions and course requirement document
2. Instructions for logging on and using the NFA website
3. Practical Skills Worksheets (Strategy & Tactics, Size-Up/Action Plan, Command Chart)
4. Lead Evaluator Checklist
5. Final Practical Exam - this is a PowerPoint scenario, more are being developed
6. Practical Skills Scenarios - PowerPoint based, currently there are four available with more being developed.
These resources will replace the files currently located on the site and should be available by November 20, 2009. All the scenarios and documents will be available for download.
The Indiana Firefighter Training System will be developing more scenarios for use by instructors for this course. The scenarios can also be used during in house strategy and tactics training. An email will be sent out once the resources have been loaded on the website and can be located at http://www.in.gov/dhs/3152.htm
Effective Jan. 10, 2010-Board of Firefighter Standards and Education rules will become effective Jan. 14, 2010. 655 IAC 1-1-5.2 states the lead instructor shall be certified in the levels of certification being taught 655 IAC 1-1-13 states the lead evaluator shall be certified in the field being evaluated.
Assisting evaluators shall have knowledge and skill in the subject they are evaluating.