I have often heard the expression that practice makes perfect. A long time ago, I found out that is not always the case. The truth behind this saying is that it is completely false. If I practice every single day doing something wrong, when the time comes for the performance, I will perform poorly. When it comes to practice, sometimes referred to as “training” in the fire service, there are several types needed.
Normal training should be used on a regular basis by the company officer to establish skill level and identify weaknesses. This is the training that occurs on a one-on-one or company level. By evaluating how the firefighter performs without someone spoon feeding them the next step is key to unlocking someone’s potential. Once the deficiencies have been identified, repetitive training sometimes referred to as focused training is what will raise the performance level. Once the person can consistently perform the task, the best way to establish a mastery level is to have that person teach someone else (under supervision to ensure it is done correctly). This constant evaluation and rotation of strengths and weaknesses of a crew will supply a never ending list of things to be improved upon. If you add the crew cohesion factor to this, a company officer will be surrounded by people they can trust and that fully know their limitations as a crew.
The concept of being perfect is one that by definition is unobtainable however if you shoot for the moon and fall short you will still be in the stars. Don’t conduct the mandatory training in a manner that will check the box so you can say it was completed. Treat every training session as an opportunity to motivate and cultivate your crew into a team that is as close to perfect as possible. Make the sessions valuable to the crew, fair (company officers participate), and seek out new and innovative ways to prepare for the jobs that are expected to be performed. Considering all of the processes that go into becoming a “perfect” team, I submit a revised phrase to use in the firehouse…. “perfect practice makes perfect.”