Academy Blog | Train. Track. Serve.
Online learning is becoming a popular training and organizational tool for fire departments. Learn why online learning should be your department’s next investment.
Many people associate online learning with college courses but are unfamiliar with its applications outside of attaining a college degree. While online learning is a fast-growing training and organizational tool for a variety of businesses, it is particularly well-suited for fire rescue given the nature of the job – which includes a heavy training requirement, regular policy updates and firefighters working varied schedules around the clock.
Online learning management systems are highly flexible, accessible anywhere, offer a wide variety of content, and can streamline processes for the entire fire department.
Here are six reasons why you should consider implementing an online learning platform at your department.
1. REDUCE TRAINING COSTS
Online learning can replace or reduce in-person training costs by allowing training coordinators to assign pre-course work before a classroom session. Firefighters can read policies or memos, as well as watch lecture videos before arriving to class lectures which can help improve the effectiveness of hands-on training.
For example, before bringing firefighters into a training simulation, have them watch a video, assigned to them for completion in the learning management system, that introduces how the simulator works and read a training bulletin about the learning objectives for the simulation session. When firefighters arrive, they can immediately receive the scenario briefing and begin the hands-on training experience, foregoing a lengthy lecture.
Further, online training is ideal for annual training updates, such as a bloodborne pathogens refresher, that often require hiring an outside trainer or assigning an employee to deliver bloodborne pathogens training throughout the organization. Either route is time and budget consuming. A bloodborne pathogens course, loaded into the online training system, can be used for several annual training cycles and completed by firefighters without bringing them to a classroom or an instructor to them.
Additionally, by decreasing the amount of off-site training required, departments can cut down
overtime costs as well as costs for travel and shift coverage during off-site training.
2. ACCESS COURSES WITH EASE AND FLEXIBILITY
For most departments, training is a burden because it’s not always accessible; Firefighters need to travel to training, or a fire department needs to coordinate with an in-person trainer. And apart from expenses, it’s often inconvenient.
With online learning, training is available anytime, anywhere on the following devices:
- iPhone and Android powered smartphones
- Desktop computers
- iPads, Kindle Fires, and Android powered tablets
This 24/7 accessibility means that personnel can access the online training system – a knowledge base of courses, policies, and resources – to complete training while on shift, during downtime or even during their off time if allowed by their department. Off-duty training is especially well-suited to part-time firefighters, volunteers or personnel who work at more than one department.
Online learning also opens the doors to a newer concept called microlearning. Training doesn’t need to happen in only 1-hour, 4-hour or 8-hour increments. Fifteen minutes during briefings might be enough time to quickly update firefighters on a policy revision or to view a short video on a feature update to the tracking software.
Unlike in-person training, online learning can be broken into smaller sessions that can be paused and restarted over multiple sittings.
3. PROVIDE THE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES MILLENNIALS EXPECT
According to Pew research, millennials are the largest cohort in the U.S. labor force. If your department’s ratio of young firefighters to veteran personnel hasn’t shifted yet, it soon will.
And millennials have different expectations from their employees than generations past.
Harvard Business Review released a study in 2017 about what millennials want in a work environment. The study spanned multiple industries, but the results were strongly focused on generation versus occupation. One of the primary outcomes was the millennials look for the opportunity to learn and grow within their occupation more than any previous generation.
Appealing to millennials’ desire for educational opportunities, through cutting-edge technology, is a great tool for recruitment and retention.
In addition to assigned courses, leverage the learning management system (LMS) vendor’s course library to offer optional or elective courses to all personnel. Promote the availability of these courses, especially to millennials, who want to continue learning on the job and broadening their skill set.
4. IMPROVE TRACKING OF TRAINING
A combination of online training features like ease of use and high volumes of courses helps firefighters with retraining and recertification.
Firefighters have access to accredited courses that can be utilized more frequently than off-site or in-person training schedules allow. Digital time tracking means more training hours are counted, too. An online training system makes it easy to earn and document training hours for:
- Attending shift briefings
- Completing pre-course work before a hands-on training event
- Documenting participation in an inter-agency training exercise like an active shooter response drill
How does your fire department currently track these hours and apply it toward annual requirements?
Can you make the process stronger? When the Oak Park Fire Department starting tracking their training with more efficiency and increased their volume of content through online learning, they noticed a substantial increase in operations training time.
5. INCREASE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR REQUIRED CERTIFICATION
With online learning, training is tracked and progress is easily monitored by administrators, which means credentials are less likely to expire and compliance requirements are more easily adhered to.
In the event that a lawsuit arises, training records are subpoenaed or a regulatory audit occurs a training management system provides tracked, centralized documentation to report firefighter department-required credentials. This ability to track and grant credentials reduces liability.
6. ELEVATE FIREFIGHTER SAFETY
As any chief knows, training is a sound foundation for a firefighter’s career, but continuing education beyond minimum requirements for these topics — and addressing a wider-breadth of issues — is imperative for a firefighter’s overall effectiveness and on-the-job safety.
Finding an online solution provides your firefighters access to these critical training topics, as well as topics more specifically related to your community.
For example, if the opioid epidemic is currently plaguing your jurisdiction, online learning tools can provide your department continuous access and up-to-date education to help keep your first responders safe and effectively responding to overdoses and investigating narcotics trafficking.
When Gaines Township Fire Department implemented a better training program, it not only helped retain their firefighters because they felt more equipped to handle their job, but their training coordinator described how improved training about safer firefighting saved their lives.
Learn how FireRescue1 Academy can help your department.
FireRescue1 Academy continues to keep our fire and EMS training content fresh and up to date, to ensure your department and personnel have the latest and greatest in fire training. Our Content and Accreditation team has worked diligently to overhaul our fire training series for both Fire Fighter 1 and 2 and Fire Officer. Our online platform now includes these updated NFPA-based courses, along with other fire training courses that can be assigned to your team at any time.
FireRescue1 Academy recently released new fire courses, expanding our training library of quality, high-liability topics that address today’s fire related incidents. With a subscription to FireRescue1 Academy, we offer exclusive access to some of the best fire and EMS training online.
With nearly 350 NFPA-based fire course, personnel and first responders have access to training 24/7, in multiple formats, to meet compliance and credential requirements. Along with new and updated courses released regularly, our training solution offers features that simplify department training, like course tracking, policy management, custom course creation, and more.
New/Updated Courses Released
- Firefighter Cancer: Prevention and Health
Many firefighters face hazards that are easily visible such as structural collapse, hazardous materials, and high heat environments, but it is the unseen hazards that are most dangerous to firefighters today. In this course, sponsored by Globe, we will explore the common cancer-causing agents firefighters will face on the job as well as the importance of wearing proper PPE and using decontamination techniques to increase firefighter health and quality of life.
- Fire Reality Training: Incidents in Limited Access Buildings
In this short training video, Chief Rob Wylie explains possible tactics when dealing with limited access areas and how to handle to siutation safely.
- Fire Reality Training: Media Outlets and the Firehouse
Inviting the media is inviting scrutiny. Watch this video segment to be sure your department is ready.
- Fire Reality Training: Recruitment
Chief Rob Wylie presents strategies on how your department can find diverse and qualified personnel.
- Managing Chronic Care Patients (ALS/BLS)
This one-hour Medic Monthly course provides instruction on managing chronic care patients and their overuse or abuse of the EMS system.
With budget cuts and staffing issues plaguing many departments, finding the bandwidth to meet, manage and document required fire and EMS mandated training can be an uphill battle. As a response, firefighters have begun to turn to online learning as an ideal training solution.
Training online offers inherent advantages. It’s cost-effective, it’s always available and it’s easy to track and manage. Online learning can also reduce risk.
Here are a few ways your online learning provider should help your department meet its annual training requirements and decrease liability.
- ONLINE TRAINING CATERS TO STATE REQUIREMENTS
Online learning is customizable. So whether your department needs to adhere to CAPCE (Commission on Accreditation for Prehospital Continuing Education) guidelines for EMS recertification, state-specific fire training requirements or internal policies, you can ensure your program is compliant.
Your online learning provider should work with you to help you meet requirements in your state, regardless of how quickly mandates change. For example, our FireRescue1 Academy Platform is an organizationally accredited online education provider by CAPCE, approved in a handful of states for fire continuing education, and continually adds and updates new courses to be in line with the latest industry standards.
Additionally, many modern online training solutions can deliver content on smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers, making them available anywhere, at any time. Tracking time, even if it’s short bursts during the day— like 15-minute videos with tests—can help your personnel reach annual certification requirements.
For many fire departments, personnel must complete annual fire and EMS continuing education to maintain certification. It can be difficult to accommodate coverage for each firefighter when you have an understaffed department. Thanks to the accessibility of online learning, departments can increase the number of training hours while reducing the number of hours a responder is absent.
“Previously, we had been searching for an online training platform that not only ensured cost-savings, but offered a strong content library and custom course builder that would allow for our department to add specific training content. Since implementing FireRescue1 Academy, we are taking full advantage of this modern day training solution for applied learning, which has led us to maintaining our ISO 2 rating.” – Oak Park Fire Department.
- ONLINE COURSES CAN HELP FILL TRAINING GAPS AND DECREASE LIABILITY
It’s likely your department needs to meet a number of specialized training requirements or state-specific mandates. You may currently be on the hook for identifying—and paying for—a range of instructors to conduct multiple, in-person training sessions. Online learning can greatly ease if not eliminate this burden.
An online learning provider with a comprehensive course library can efficiently deliver training for a large number of specialized, fire and EMS topics that might prove costly to provide in a classroom setting.
In addition, by offering increased training opportunities, you are reducing liability costs at your department, too—which can take a huge bite out of your department’s budget. For example, according to the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, fire truck crashes occur at a rate of approximately 30,000 crashes per year. Due to civil liability, local governments can pay anywhere from $100,000 and up in settlements and legal fees.
High-liability categories, which are all offered on the FireRescue1 Academy platform, include:
- Firefighter 1 & 2
- Fire Instructor
- Emergency Vehicle Operations
- Pediatric Emergencies
Having access to a broad library of online training courses is a viable solution to help improve firefighter safety, productivity and performance and decrease risk while staying within budget.
- REPORTING AND TRACKING PROGRESS MINIMIZES RISK
Maintaining accurate training records is as important as actually taking the required courses. Without proof of course completion and department compliance, one audit or legal issue can completely disrupt your department.
One of the benefits of online learning is the streamlined electronic record of your department’s training activity. A learning management system (LMS) enables departments to eliminate any makeshift or paper processes currently in use. This improved workflow benefits everyone, from personnel to the administration and leadership divisions.
For instance, if a firefighter is unable to complete training in one sitting, courses can be bookmarked and completed at a later time. Training administrators and leaders can easily monitor the progress and the completion of assigned tasks. Then, anyone within the department can easily pull a report for compliance in the event of an audit. Digitally organizing and tracking your department’s compliance and ISO training can also reduce liability in the case of a lawsuit.
- AN ONLINE TRAINING SOLUTION LESSENS BUDGET AND TIME COMMITMENTS
Often, department budgets don’t align with the resources and time needed for first responders to meet annual training requirements. This becomes a challenge for the Chief or Training Coordinator as a firefighter cannot be on call and scheduled for in-person training at the same time. So will your department plan training during work hours? Or will you pay for overtime?
What if some of those training sessions are only available in particular regions in your state and your personnel have to travel? Additionally, managing work schedules when firefighters are away at training adds another layer of complexity.
An online training platform can be the solution to these problems. The flexibility opens the doors to allowing first responders to complete training in between calls while on call, which cuts overtime costs and keeps your department compliant. Further, it provides administrators with a tangible return on investment from both a time and monetary perspective.
Today’s fire departments are faced with complex training requirements and need cost-effective ways to ensure personnel is compliant with state standards. An LMS that offers high-quality courses and tracking can meet those needs.
FireRescue1 Academy’s online learning platform offers a course library that has been developed to meet the educational needs of departments looking to train personnel on high liability topics. These topics and more are available in our learning management solution, which provides a flexible system for you to maintain compliance based on your department’s specific needs.
We are regularly evaluating our course content to ensure we are providing the topics that our clients can get the most value from. In our recent review of our top courses completed by clients, we have noticed that departments are finding it useful that we have training on a variety of fire and EMS related topics.
The courses listed below can be taken to meet CEU requirements or for credit toward state and/or national certifications and credentials.
Top 5 courses completed:
- Bloodborne Pathogens for First Responders
The First Responder must have knowledge of the appropriate personal protective equipment when responding to an emergency to protect the first responder against airborne and bloodborne pathogens. In this course, learners will review the different airborne and bloodborne pathogens they will most commonly be exposed to with discussion of a new bloodborne pathogen as well as the equipment and preventative measures that should be taken for those pathogens.
- Ventricular Assist Devices: Assessment & Treatment Considerations
This one-hour Medic Monthly course provides instruction on Ventricular Assist Devices: Assessment and Treatment Considerations. This course presents versions for ALS responders.
- HazMat First Responder Awareness
This Hazmat First Responder Awareness course assists the First Responder in recognizing the hazardous substance and understanding how to respond.
- Sexual Harrassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace can happen to anyone, male or female, regardless of sexual orientation. While sexual harassment may have been overlooked, ignored, or excused in the past, that is no longer the case. Recognizing what sexual harassment is, both the subtle cues as well as the overt advances, will help you to identify potential warning signs and take the necessary steps to report sexual harassment. There are a number of preventive measures that can be employed as well as recommendations of what to do if you or one of your employees have been or are the victim of sexual harassment.
- Emergency Vehicle Driving Dynamics
Driving and operating emergency vehicles is very challenging and one of the most hazardous duties performed by emergency response personnel every day. It requires a complete understanding of how the forces of nature and physics work both for and against the safe operation of emergency vehicles. In this 1 hour course, learners will study the dynamic effects of forces like inertia, friction, and mass to better understand how the laws of physics are always in control of an emergency vehicle.
How Much Can You Save on Online Fire Training?
Recently, FireRescue1 Academy built a new tool to help fire departments determine their cost savings by transitioning part of their required annual training to an online learning solution. Our ROI calculator estimates your current spend on training versus how much you can save on online fire training with FireRescue1 Academy’s platform.
The goal for this estimation tool is to demonstrate how moving part of your annual training to an online solution can positively impact your bottom line and reduce budget spending.
With our potential savings estimator, your department can:*
- Evaluate the cost/benefit of purchasing an online solution
- Determine the time saved on tracking and reporting training
- Compare existing training procedures to our features & functionality
*Disclaimer: To receive your potential savings calculation, you must complete a demo of FireRescue1 Academy with a sales representative.
EVOC: Emergency Vehicle Operator Course Series
FireRescue1 Academy has released a new course series, Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC), which is designed to enhance the ability for fire fighters to identify the importance of proper training for emergency vehicle operations. With this series, students will deal with the many dynamic forces of nature and physics, which will work both for and against the safe operation of emergency vehicles.
This eLearning experience provides personnel with the knowledge necessary to operate and mitigate the many risks associated with driving emergency vehicles. These training courses have a variety of requirements and opportunities out there for any driver or department with a desire to promote safety and effectiveness.
EVOC is a five-part series that includes the following courses:
- Emergency Vehicle Driving Requirements
- Selecting the Proper Personnel for Driving Emergency Vehicle
- Emergency Vehicle Characteristics
- Emergency Vehicle Driving Dynamics
- Emergency Vehicle Driving Techniques
This 30-minute course explains the importance of emergency vehicle driving, the impact of vehicle accidents to you and the organization, responsibilities for safe emergency vehicles operations, and the factors that contribute to an incident involving emergency vehicles. Learners will take away an essential understanding of the complexities of driving under emergency conditions, the hazards of intersections and finally the risks of backing apparatus and vehicles.
This 30-minute course will explain that proper personnel selection procedures are the first steps in developing an effective, safe emergency vehicle driver program. It will also define the legal aspects of emergency vehicle operations. And why it is necessary to have standard operating guidelines.
This 30-minute course will focus on vehicle features that the Emergency Vehicle Driver should know. The course will define the various types of Emergency Vehicle Inspections and maintenance programs a department must have set-up. The course will also focus on the different weight distribution factors and center of gravity when driving these emergency vehicles.
This course will focus on the dynamics of how to drive an emergency vehicle and stay safe in the process. It will focus on how to prevent Emergency Vehicle Roll Over and Vehicle Dynamics and Physical Forces effect the operation of these types of vehicles.
This 1-hour module will cover all the techniques needed to maintain the highest level of safety possible. It also includes how to prepare for unexpected situations and conditions which can adversely affect emergency vehicle operation. As well as defensive driving techniques that include space management, following distance and rate of closure, hazard identification and correct braking techniques to name a few tactical skills.
The FireRescue1 Academy content and accreditation teams have made a collaborative effort this year to evaluate the latest trends and topics in Fire and EMS to help build a more updated online fire training library for first responders. With the feedback provided by our valuable clients, we’ve made the necessary changes to older courses, while continuing to add new and original content to our learning management platform.
On December 31, 2017, we will be retiring older versions of course content, with new versions going live on January 1, 2018. To ensure that you and/or your personnel have completed course requirements before they are either removed or updated, please review the list below to see what has changed.
- 12-Lead EKG
- Medic Monthly-Football Injuries is now Medic Monthly – Treating Neck and Spinal Injuries
- Medic Monthly-Pediatric Spinal Injuries VOL 6 Issue 6 is now Medic Monthly – Pediatric Spinal Injuries
- Medic Monthly-SIDS Vol 2 Issue 1 is now Medic Monthly – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
If you have questions or need assistance, please click here to contact your Customer Success representative.
Fire chiefs are often unfamiliar with learning management systems, so there is a risk of partnering with an LMS vendor that is not suited to their departments, or is inferior to other options
When fire departments face a budget crunch, training is often a line item that’s adversely affected.
Training not only has its own costs, it also has the opportunity cost of taking firefighters off the street.
And those training challenges greatly increase when the department is volunteer or paid on-call. However,
failure to train becomes a liability issue, so fire departments are looking for alternative avenues to get their firefighters trained, but at lower costs.
One of the options trainers and administrators are turning to is online learning management systems.
But because they are unfamiliar with this emerging technology, there is a risk of partnering with a vendor
that is not suited to their department’s personnel and needs or selecting a training system with an inferior
set of features.
Here are four questions fire departments should be asking as they evaluate a learning management
1) Do you have certificates of completion?
Just like in the offline world, individual firefighters and departments need to show proof that training has been completed to meet mandatory training requirements. Many firefighters and officers keep a binder of their training certificates, and many departments have an administrator who maintains file cabinets full of such documents. In the online world, most learning providers have certificates or records — either actual documents in PDF form that can be printed out or electronic records of course completion.
A top issue for your end users, firefighters, officers and chiefs, is accessibility and availability of those training certificates. It must be easy to find and share proof that training has been completed with a
host of possible stakeholders — everyone from the compliance manager at a risk pool to the state fire marshal’s office to members of the court system.
Another issue with certificates of completion is portability of that documentation. Can individual firefighters easily access their certificates not only for use at their department, but also to verify their
training and credentials for any secondary fire service jobs such as a regional training instructor or as a two-hatter for another department that requires proof of the same training?
2) Is your training approved for state credit?
State-approved training can vary from state to state. Some learning management system providers do have content that has been reviewed by the state oversight authority and has been approved or accredited, but some do not.
In fact, in some cases, states have simply indicated that they do not approve training courses — online
or offline. Instead the state sets criteria for training and empowers a fire marshal or fire chief to approve training.
As a potential purchaser, the training officer should know what the requirements are for their state and their discipline, and that can help inform them on which learning management system is right for their
department. Because many departments, through their fire chief, can approve their own internally developed and locally instructed training programs, it is critical to know if the training department can
upload its own training records to the LMS.
3) Who are you working with in our state?
Just as you would seek to get the opinion of a neighboring department when purchasing any other sort of fire apparatus or turnout gear, administrators should ask for contacts at other departments who can testify about the learning management system solution. Here are some questions to ask those references:
- How easy was it to implement the system?
- What is the support like when you have a problem?
- What do you think of the training content?
- How easy is it to access
- Were there any unseen or unplanned fees after initial setup?
4) What is the fee structure and are there any hidden charges after setup?
Pricing structures can vary for LMS solutions. Some vendors offer multiple options to choose from. There
could be an offering that is a one-time flat fee for an unlimited number of users or there could be a per user/per-year subscription option. Some offerings have a tiered- pricing structure for different levels of support after purchase (silver, gold, platinum, for example), which impact the total cost.
The key is to ensure that the vendor is completely transparent about the absolute total cost. Ultimately,
the learning management system your agency selects will need the features and functionality you deem the
most important. But using these questions as a guide at the start of your planning will be key to the overall success of the program.