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  • Writer's pictureRuss Hornfisher


This past weekend I had an opportunity to witness the importance of training and proofing. The pictures attached to this story are Dan Phillips, Chief of the Plymouth Fire Department and the other picture is a 120+ year old house that was donated to the fire department for training purposes.

A control burn for fire departments is a rare and unique experience. For five days leading up to the big burn three neighboring fire departments took turns conducting small controlled burns, extinguishing fires and rescuing life-like dummy’s planted in the house.

Local residents were informed of the date and time of this controlled burn so as not to create alarm when it occurred. On the day of the total burn, a crowd of residents gather in designated locations to observe and take pictures. Chief Phillips did a great job addressing the crowd to providing 10-20 minute explanations about what the fire fighters were preparing to do next, and then he would excuse himself to instruct his staff. While addressing the crowd, Chief Phillips made some very interesting comments emphasizing his job is about teaching staff new techniques (that means he is learning new techniques) the best proven methods. He went on to explain how important is to create new unexpected training scenarios (Proofing). Chief Phillips stated firefighter’s train every day, not just occasionally, so when faced with a real fire they act with confidence which reduces hesitation, doubt or mistakes. That is right, his job as a teaching, learning, proofing and creating confidence, which are four of the traits displayed by leaders.

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