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ClearText from Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute
ClearText 2012, No. 4 • August, 2012

Greetings from Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute

At the August 16, 2012, meeting of the Fire Service Training Commission, a new policy was approved concerning training and national certification testing. Briefly, this new policy states that any program having courses that are not taught under the KF&RTI umbrella will require application to gain “approved program” status before accepting candidates for national certification testing. It also requires an instructor to maintain a 70% pass rate for their students sent to national certification testing.

As with any change, this has already created considerable feedback and rumors are flying! To thwart misinformation, we are sending this message to encourage you to wait until your information is complete and correct before passing judgment. You may be led to believe a number of things that are simply not accurate. I will address that later.

Before explaining what this new policy will require, let us address what is NOT affected by this change.

If you currently report courses to the Institute via course record forms, this change DOES NOT affect what you’re doing (except for the minimum pass rate). Your program already has “approved program” status. The only change is that instructors must maintain a minimum 70% pass rate for their students taking the national certification exam. Specifically, if you are any of the following and you report your courses to KF&RTI via the course record form, there is no change except for maintaining the minimum pass rate:

  • In-House Instructor (teaching an authorized course)
  • Associate Instructor (teaching an authorized course)
  • KF&RTI Training Manager
  • Community College with a signed agreement with KF&RTI

If your department or instructor conducts training but does not send candidates to the national certification exam as a result of their training course, this change DOES NOT apply. The program/instructor does not have to meet the “approved program” requirement. In other words, if, as an instructor/program you don’t report courses taught to KF&RTI and don’t send students to the certification exams, you don’t have to do a thing. This program approval does not apply to you.

There is no cost associated with this new policy. The only indirect cost possibly would be if you don’t have a certified Fire Service Instructor I to conduct your training. If you don’t, KF&RTI can help. Our new web-based Fire Service Instructor I course will be online soon, which will help reduce expenses typically associated with attending an on-site course. If you already have a certified instructor, there is no cost to the fire department or organization for application to gain “approved program” status.

This program was created in an effort to improve the results of certification testing. This past year, the combined Fire Fighter I and II testing experienced a 63.7% pass rate for the written exam. Simply stated that means that almost four out of ten failed the exam. If we added the results of the skills exam, that number would be worse.

Over the last couple of years, the Institute has reviewed the test banks to ensure that they are valid. We have a high-confidence level that the exams are fair and valid tests. During that time we have published ClearText newsletters and made presentations at fire service conferences regarding and discussing the issues. We’ve talked to instructors about their responsibilities in the teaching/learning process; we’ve talked to the fire chiefs about their responsibilities in the process; we’ve talked to firefighters and students about their responsibilities in the teaching/learning process; yet, have not made any appreciable progress in increasing the test results. It’s time to take the next step.

As your state training organization, we have a responsibility to help you achieve your training goals. For many, national certification is one of those goals. We have the responsibility to take action designed to improve those outcomes when we identify them. Simply stated, we should be doing a better job. “We” includes everybody involved in the training of firefighters: KF&RTI, the local fire instructor and any other organization that takes on the task of training firefighters. We have identified this improvement and ask everyone involved in training Kansas firefighters to embrace the concept of doing a better job.

Some have said that we are “raising the bar” or increasing standards. Nothing has changed for the individual firefighter. We have not increased requirements for getting certified. To instructors and organizations, we are only saying that we all must meet a minimal standard of performance. This new policy has been set to insure that students get what they pay for—whether that is measured in time or money. Students deserve the assurance that their instructor will prepare them well for the national certification exam.

In the coming weeks and months the Institute will be working with the organizations represented on the Fire Service Training Commission and fire departments to conduct meetings in which we will explain the details of this change. We ask that you reserve judgment until you get the true facts of this program and how it will be implemented. If you would like a KF&RTI representative to come to your fire department or association to explain it, please contact us. As the old saying goes—anytime, anywhere and anyplace—just ask.

Have questions? Need a presenter for your next county meeting? Would you like someone to come to your next function to make a presentation to learn what the Institute can do for you? The Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute would be pleased to come and talk to your organization. Call or send an email with details of date, time, location and a local contact person (and phone number). We'll be in touch to confirm our attendance.

Call 866-804-8841 or send an email to kufire@ku.edu. Ask for Glenn Pribbenow or any program manager.

Have a topic you want to see addressed? Send your idea to kufire@ku.edu!

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