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Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Did You Do Last Weekend? A Look at the 2013 Fire Officer School

The general assembly listens to Fire Chief Nyle Zikmund.
On a recent snowy weekend, 211 firefighters from around the state gathered at the Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria for the Minnesota State Fire Chief’s Association Fire Officer School. By 8 a.m. on Saturday, the place was buzzing. The general session had started, announcements were made, and students and instructors were quickly connected and headed to their classrooms.

The school, now in its second year, offered ten tracks of education. Walking down the hallway, I could hear Chief Seal from Bloomington saying, “Watch what happens when this window is taken out.” A packed room of firefighters watched the video of a structure fire and observed how the fire changed with the increased ventilation resulting from the broken window. Chief Seal’s presentation, “The First Five Minutes,” had their full attention.

Around the corner, the next classroom was noisy as firefighters worked in teams to manage multiple emergency scenes using a simulated city and “toy firetrucks.” The class focused on the critical operational decision-making that occurs on the fire ground. The school offered classes in leadership and management, fire service management, special responses, wildfire training, customer service, and a certification review and testing. There was also a track on the operations and resources of the State Fire Marshal’s Office. I presented one of numerous modules in a class entitled “The New Fire Officers Primer.” The class was facilitated by Bruce West, and there was no downtime.

The Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria hosted the training.

Many of the firefighters brought their families with them. Once classes started, the spouses and kids headed to the indoor water park, the ice rink, sliding hill, fitness center, and the spa. The Tennis Center had been converted to accommodate the large assemblies and contained a vendor area and even a “Sparky the Fire Dog” jumping house for the kids.

Congratulations to the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs’ Association, Mark Hovland from Fergus Falls, and Bill Thoennes from Alexandria for hosting a very special event. It was high-quality training in a family-friendly environment. Great job, guys!


                                                 Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next time: “A New Look for the Fire Service (New Helmets)”

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.

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