Incident Command System Training Program to Help Mississippi

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                   ASSISTANCE MANDATES


                            BY:     Steven Bardwell
                                    Mississippi State Fire Academy
                                    Jackson, Mississippi

      An applied research project submitted to the National Fire Academy
                 as part of the Executive Fire Officer Program

                                  March, 2005

                               CERTIFICATION STATEMENT

I hereby certify that this paper constitutes my own product, that where the language of others is
set forth, quotation marks so indicate, and that appropriate credit is given where I have used the
language, ideas, expressions, or writings of another.

                                      Signed: ________________________________________


     The problem was that there existed no established program(s) to provide all fire

departments in Mississippi with recognized training in the Incident Command System (ICS).

The lack of this training could very likely place Mississippi fire departments at high risk of not

meeting established criteria to be approved for federal assistance. The purpose of this study was

to determine the most effective and feasible program that the Mississippi State Fire Academy

(MSFA) could use to deliver ICS training to all fire departments in Mississippi. This was a

descriptive research project. The research questions were:

     1. Why is it necessary for all fire departments in Mississippi to complete ICS training?

     2. What is the most effective and feasible educational methodology to deliver the


     3. What is the most effective and feasible format to deliver the training?

     4. What are the main challenges to deliver the training?

   The procedures involved reviewing applicable documents, and comparing various

instructional methodologies and training delivery formats. This involved the referencing of

books, articles, internet sites, etc., to obtain documentation. Fire service and training personnel

were interviewed and sizable surveys were conducted to obtain information about experience in

delivering training. Their responses were tabulated by percentages. Some of their responses were

also included as other research information.

   Survey participants were twenty-five students and ten fire instructors. Additionally, ten fire

service leaders were interviewed. The results revealed that managing an incident effectively and

compliance with federal assistance requirements, were the primary reasons fire departments

should complete ICS training. Additionally, all educational methodologies may presents

advantages and challenges. The demonstration style was the educational methodology that best-

suited student learning style. This style was also indicated by fire instructors as the most

effective educational methodology. The results also revealed that the main challenges to deliver

the ICS training were the constant changing challenges of instructors, attitudes of fire chiefs, and

time management of the students/participants.

   This information was comparative to the relative data found in books, articles, and internet

sites that were researched.    Comparable organizations considering the implementation of a

similar program should consider issues such as; publishing an annual firefighter training

calendar, avoiding seasonal events, and effective marketing of the training program.

                       Table of Contents

Certification Statement ………………………………………………………………………… 1

Abstract ………………………………………………………………………………………... 2

Table of Contents ………………………………………………………………………………. 4

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

Background and Significance ………………………………………………………………….. 5

Literature Review …………………………………………………………………………….…10

Procedures ………………………………………………………………………………………21

Definition of Terms ……………………………………………………………………………..24

Results …………………………………………………………………………………………..24

Discussion ………………………………………………………………………………………27

Recommendations ………………………………………………………………………………31

References ………………………………………………………………………………………33

Appendix A…………………………………………………………………………………..…35

Appendix B…………………………………………………………………………………..…37


     The problem is that there exist no established program(s) to provide all fire departments in

Mississippi with recognized training in the Incident Command System (ICS). This lack of

training places fire departments at high risk of not meeting the established criteria to be approved

for federal assistance. The purpose of this study is to determine the most effective and feasible

program that the MSFA could use to deliver ICS training to all fire departments in Mississippi.

This is a descriptive research project. The research questions are:

     1. Why is it necessary for all fire departments in Mississippi to complete ICS training?

     2. What is the most effective and feasible educational methodology to deliver the


     3. What is the most effective and feasible format to deliver the training?

     4. What are the main challenges to deliver the training?

                                  Background and Significance

     Regardless of the size of the jurisdiction, no department has been exempt from

experiencing a major emergency. ICS training has not been emphasized enough for our

firefighters. There has been some progress made within a few career departments. However, the

majority of the fire departments in Mississippi are volunteer fire departments. They appear to

feel that ICS does not apply to them at the emergency scenes. They have failed to accept that

whether you have one, three or twenty-five members on a scene, the ICS must be implemented

(W. Gray, personal communication, November 24, 2004).

     The poorest state in the union, the least educated citizens in the union, the least competent

workers in the union and the least assertive officials in the union --- these are a few descriptions

that have plagued the state of Mississippi for many years. Fire departments in Mississippi have

not been exempt from these descriptions. Now, that the federal government has implemented a

program to assist fire departments in obtaining needed resources, fire departments must continue

to utilize the program. As mandates (which includes ICS implementation) are handed down to

be considered for assistance, based on the traditional descriptions listed above, many people

might expect Mississippi fire departments to be among the last to meet mandates. Implementing

ICS has not been a standard procedure at incidents. Unless a tragedy occurs at the incident, there

has been little consequences for not implementing the ICS. Presently, it appears that some fire

departments are viewing the ICS only as a necessity to receive federal assistance. While this

should not be the primary reason for implementing the ICS, it does appear to demand attention.

(L. Griggs, personal communication, November 20, 2004).

     On February 28, 2003, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5 (HSPD-5) was

issued by President Bush. Under this directive, the Secretary of Homeland Security was directed

to develop and administer a National Incident Management System (NIMS). Under HSPD-5,

federal departments and agencies must require state and local organizations to adopt NIMS as a

condition for federal preparedness assistance. This assistance includes grants, contracts, and

other activities. This mandate is effective for fiscal year 2005. A need for a NIMS can be seen

through lessons learned from previous large-scale disasters. Somewhere in the United States,

emergencies happen every day. They may be large or small. They may range from a fire to a

hazardous materials incident. Regardless, each incident requires a response. The responders must

be able to work together and communicate with each other. Responders may come from the same

jurisdiction, a state or federal agency, or from a mutual aid partner. Previously, there existed no

standards for domestic incident response that covers all levels of government and all response

organizations. Our experiences from September 11 have exposed the need for and importance of

national standards for incident operations. (FEMA, 2004, pp. 1-2).

     Additionally, former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove issued an Executive Order

mandating the State Incident Command System to be used during emergency operations. This

Executive Order established the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) as

the State Incident Command System. Within this order, the governor acknowledged that the

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the establishment and

utilization of a site-specific ICS to handle emergency response. It also acknowledged that

various local and state entities, including fire departments, the Mississippi Emergency

Management Agency (MEMA), and the Mississippi Forestry Commission currently use the

NIIMS. (State of Mississippi, 2001).

     In the past, firefighters in Mississippi have traditionally completed training programs by

attending courses at regional locations and on the MSFA campus. Beginning in 1974, MSFA

instructors operated literally “out of pickup trucks”. They delivered training programs in a

regional area that usually ranged from twelve to twenty counties. Training programs delivered in

these locations generally were well attended. Most training was conducted at a local fire station.

The favorable attendance was probably due to the fact that before 1974, training for firefighters

was almost non-existent. Although, there was an actual physical building that represented the

MSFA, most training was delivered in regional locations. The course delivery format used was

the traditional method of “showing up and participating”. Formats such as distant learning

(correspondence courses) and internet courses were of course, unheard of. Instructional

methodologies usually consisted of ten percent lecture and ninety percent demonstration or


     These traditions have been altered somewhat over the years. Presently, training delivery

formats are expanding to include; field delivery, field evaluation, and distant learning.

Additionally, instructional methodologies are expanding to include; advanced lectures, expanded

discussions, illustration, and team-teaching. (R. McNulty, personal communications, December

15, 2004).

     We can expect the future to continue bringing new classes of training technologies. These

may include graphics, desktop publishing, computer-based training, computer-based testing,

compact disk interaction, database and spreadsheet programs, and various internet applications.

A failure of fire departments to provide current and adequate training could result in the

department being cited and fined by OSHA or other agencies for lack of training or compliance

with specific sections of the law. (FEMA, 1997, pp. 2-12 and 3-14).

     Governor Musgrove’s Executive Order 851 is just that, an order from the Governor of the

State of Mississippi. Fire departments which do not comply with the mandate to implement the

ICS will not be in compliance with the order.

     The method which our nation prepares to and responds to domestic incidents is about to

change. The change will not be abrupt. There have been practices developed over the years to

support this comprehensive approach to incident management known as NIMS. But, it will be

better. The NIMS will enable responders at all levels and across the disciplines to work together

more effectively and efficiently. Beginning in FY 2006, federal preparedness grants for state,

local, and tribal organizations will be compliance with NIMS. Many agencies currently use

various forms of ICS. There will be considerable uncertainty about NIMS ICS and the impact it

has on systems and processes currently in place. This is very important because one of the FY

2005 requirements for implementing NIMS is implementing the use of ICS within the entire

response system (NIMS online, 2004).

     The model ICS is also included in the NIMS. Fire Departments must accept that ICS is no

longer a suggestion --- it is the law. In 2005, fire departments must demonstrate that they are

moving forward with NIMS. They must demonstrate that they attempt to use the ICS. Beginning

in 2007, fire departments may face negative consequences for not being in compliance with

NIMS. (C. Dickenson, personal communication, October 28, 2004).

     The MSFA recognizes its role and customer expectations in regards to needed ICS training.

Fire departments expect the MSFA to develop and deliver the ICS training that will help them

meet the requirements to receive federal assistance. The effectiveness of the MSFA to recognize

and accept this role is part of our mission. Without accepting this role, fire departments in

Mississippi could be at great risk of not receiving the much needed federal assistance.

     This Applied Research Project (APR) relates to the Incident Command System chapter in

the Executive Analysis of Fire Service Operations in Emergency Management course. This

chapter addresses a brief review of the four command options used in the ICS and their

application by executive-level chief officers to large-scale and complex multi-agency emergency

incidents (FEMA, August, 2004). This research project is a description of the most effective and

feasible training program to deliver ICS training to fire departments in Mississippi. The

development of this program is a proactive measure to provide Mississippi fire departments with

training to help them work towards implementing NIMS. As a result, the MSFA will continue to

accomplish its mission by providing training and meeting the specific needs of fire departments

in Mississippi. In this case, the need is to implement ICS, an integral part of NIMS.

     This research project relates to the United States Fire Administration operational objective

“to respond appropriately in a timely manner to emerging issues” (Department of Homeland

Security, 2003, p. II-2). Effective emergency management is extremely important. The fire

service is continuing to be a key factor providing effective emergency management services.

Only through continued training can we improve our ability to respond. This response is before,

during, and after a large-scale incident in our communities. (FEMA, 2004, pp. SM 1-5). In

Mississippi, our fire departments have struggled financially for far too long. They, along with

other organizations in the state, have been the icon of the “last to implement”, “last to adjust”

reputation. This program will help ensure that we are unanimously prepared to manage our

emergencies and take a giant step towards meeting the new criteria of implementing NIMS (L.

Griggs, personal communications, December 8, 2004).

                                        Literature Review

     The purpose of this literature review is to set the theoretical and practical foundation for the

study. Four basic questions were answered to provide this foundation. First, why is it necessary

for all fire departments in Mississippi to complete ICS training? Second, what is the most

effective and feasible educational methodology to deliver the training? Third, what is the most

effective and feasible format to deliver the training? Fourth, what are the main challenges to

deliver the training?

Research Question 1:

Why is it necessary for all fire departments in Mississippi to complete ICS training?

     There are two primary reasons why is it necessary. First, and probably most important, is

the need for all fire departments to be trained in current standards to successfully manage an

incident. Mississippi fire departments are constantly growing. Communities and cities in the state

are also constantly growing. Many veteran firefighters are struggling on the fire ground with new

terminology associated with the ICS. They appear to feel that their experience alone with be

sufficient to manage the fire ground. While experience is a key factor to successfully

management the incident, these veterans must also be familiar with current terminology, tactics,

and strategies. Management of an incident is no small task. Our firefighters put their lives on the

line each day. As incident managers we owe it to the firefighters and their families to give them

the best chance of surviving the dangers of the incident. Many volunteer fire departments select

officers by voting or appointment based on popularity. This includes the selection of chief

officers. Consequently, we often fill our staff with less competent, less qualified personnel. This

can lead to a disaster at the emergency incident because often, these officers are reluctant to

accept new ideas and complete training on incident management. Perhaps a state-wide training

program will be more appealing to these officers and create a sense of “obligation” to complete

the training. (G Kistler, personal communication, November 24, 2004). A second reason is to

help ensure compliance to receive federal assistance. The Department of Homeland Security

(DHS) recently announced that all states, localities, and tribes must begin to comply with the

NIMS in Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. Federal grants will be tied to NIMS compliance in FY 2006.

According to Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman, practitioners from all facets of

the fire responder community must be involved in developing training programs. Programs

should be taught through training systems and facilities that already exist. These may be at the

state level and in various response communities. (Stearns, 2004, pp 1 & 6).

     Many of the same ridiculous mistakes and assumptions made by firefighters thirty years

ago are still being made today. ICS is also necessary to help fire department members operate

safely and effective as they manage incidents. This upcoming year, over 19,000 fire departments

will receive assistance from grants. About 2.5 billion dollars will be dispersed (C. Dickenson,

personal communication, October 28, 2004).

Research Questions 2:

What is the most effective and feasible educational methodology to deliver the training?

     There are a variety of methods (methodologies) which instructors can deliver course

material. Some are more suited for certain types of lessons. All delivery methods can be

adjusted to meet instructional objectives to a learning group. Some of the types of instructional

delivery methods are; lecture, discussion, illustration, demonstration, team teaching, and

mentoring. Using the Lecture format, the instructor delivers the new material by telling, talking,

and explaining. With this format, one speaker can reach people in any size group. The lecture

format can even be used with distant learning programs. One instructor can teach to dozens of

learners at multiple sites. This can be very cost-effective. Lectures can also be limited to one-

way communication --- from the instructor to the learners. There is no exchange of information

in this situation. A second instructional methodology is the Discussion. This format does allow

interaction between a group and the instructor. The instructor talks with the group members.

Discussions tends to work best for small groups. The discussion format can be categorized in

several ways: guided, conference, case study, role-play, and brainstorming. Participants play

major roles in discussion and activities. The instructor’s role changes to that of facilitator. Eye

contact with each other is essential to be effective. Each of the discussion formats can be time-

consuming. A third methodology is Illustration. This format uses the senses of sight and

hearing. It is actually what is called lecture in most classrooms. The instructor uses aids such as

drawing, pictures, slides, transparencies, videotapes, etc. Often, instructors improperly use the

illustration format as a substitute for demonstration. Illustrations can supplement a discussion,

but it can not take its place. With the illustration format, learners find that note-taking is easier

when they can see the key points and the points remain visible while they write.

      Demonstration is a fourth methodology. It is the act of showing how to do something. This

format is a basic means for teaching manipulative skills, physical principles, and mechanical

functions. The instructor demonstrates a task and explains why and how it is performed. The

instructor communicates to sight and hearing senses. Participants add the sense of touch when

they practice a skill. Limitations of this format include extensive preparations and cleanup time,

careful lesson planning and extra equipment for large groups.

      A fifth format of methodology is Team Teaching. This format is basically an arrangement

in which a group of instructors cooperate so that all their classes have contact with more than one

of the instructors during a lesson. The purpose of this format is to combine the knowledge and

expertise of several instructors with content and materials of the lesson. This format works well

when the topic is broad. Team teaching affects various jurisdictions in different ways.

      The sixth methodology is Mentoring. The name itself implies that a special bond exist

between the mentor and an individual. The mentor is a source of advice and counsel for a person

through a training program. The mentor will set a task for the person to perform. As the person

performs the task, they may contact their mentor for guidance and advice (Fire Protection

Publications, (2000), pp. 162-168).

      The lecture could be the most misused instructional methodology of all. Many people say

that lectures are boring. The lecture itself cannot be boring. What can be boring is the instructor.

Instructors are taught that there are no boring subjects. Yes, some subjects contain more

information about exciting job tasks and adventures. However, the instructor has the

responsibility to make the lecture exciting (D. Cross, personal communications, January 13,


     Learners are often forced into the classroom with instructors who are have limited

awareness of the adult learning process. These instructors view adults as big children. Adults, in

fact are very different from grade school and even some college students. Fire and rescue

training is no different. Students who enroll in fire and rescue have a need to learn certain

principles in order to effectively do their jobs. In a liability conscious society, it is imperative

that fire and rescue instructors present information in a manner which best prepares the student

to perform his/her duties. Instructors must understand students and modify their teaching

formats to meet the needs of the students. Adult learners must be able to integrate new material

with previously learned concepts and knowledge. This will help to increase the retention and

usability of new information. If the new information does not “fit” with the previous knowledge,

it will probably be rejected by the adult learner. In addition, adults want guidance, not grades.

Examinations and the fear of being humiliated often frightens them (Parvensky, 1994).

     The best approach to training adults is to present the material in a variety of ways. Skits,

asking thought-provoking questions, showing overheads, using humor, and problem-solving

exercises, are methods to try. As you start to see what works best with each group, you can

adjust your teaching to use the most successful methods for the rest of the class (Rostan, 2003).

     Oftentimes, traditional classroom presentations may not be the most effective method for

teaching adults, such as firefighters. The traditional presentations include lecture, basic teaching

aids, and other mediums. Many times a firefighter or fire officer will be the developer of the

presentation. While they may have much experience at the emergency scene, they often lack

adequate training in lesson plan development and selection of training aids. There are also

various generations of firefighters we train. A training officer who lacks adequate training may

have difficulties relating information to these generations. For example, today we often hear

training officers complain about the lack of motivation within the newer generation of

firefighters. They state that the newer firefighters are lazy, lack initiative, and has a short

attention span. What the training officer fails to realize is that the newer firefighter is a customer

of his. A customer with a different set of needs. A customer who requires a revised lesson plan, a

variety of instructional methodologies, and creativity in the classroom. The training officer

should keep in mind that using a variety of methods reaches more of the students. (P. Terrell,

personal communication, January 12, 2005).

Research Question 3:

What is the most effective and feasible format to deliver the training?

      There are basically four formats of delivering training that may be feasible and effective for

delivery of MSFA courses. These include; full-time on-campus, field evaluation, field delivery,

and distant learning. They each offer advantages and disadvantages but training directors must

carefully decide which is the most appropriate for the situation. The full-time on-campus format

is probably the most traditional. Its effectiveness is based on the fact that students can network

and interact with other students. This format provides the student direct access to the instructor.

However, its success hinges primarily upon the effectives of the training manager and the

instructors. The training manager must be able to plan, implement, and evaluate effectively. The

instructors must be able to deliver effective classroom presentations. The primary campus is

more likely to be equipped with adequate training props and facilities. Students are more likely

to experience real-world situations in comparison to training conducted by distant learning or

field formats. (P. Terrell, personal communications, January 7, 2005).

     Any training conducted away from the primary campus is no comparison to that conducted

on campus. The campus creates an atmosphere that motivates a student to learn more. The on

campus atmosphere provides the students with a feeling of belonging and accomplishment. This

concept can be experienced with MSFA courses as well as National Fire Academy (NFA)

courses. Students who complete MSFA courses on the campus will probably feel more like “an

alumni” of the institution. The same can probably be applied to students who complete NFA

course on the campus in Emittsburg, Maryland. While participating in on-campus courses,

students and instructors have the opportunity to witness other programs in session and network

with these students and instructors. Often, ideas are gained through networking (L. Griggs,

personal communications, January 6, 2005).

     One major advantage of the full-time-on-campus format is the use of classrooms. In a

classroom, the most effective and most-utilized instructional methodology is the lecture. This is

also advantageous with a large class size. The classroom format allows the lecturer to use many

techniques to gain attention, motivate the students and direct the learning. Additionally, the

lecturer is able to review important prerequisite learning. An experienced lecturer can also adjust

the presentation of the information to meet the immediate needs of the students. Classroom

instructions also come with its share of disadvantages. Group discussion is impractical. Practice

with personalized feedback is difficult to accomplish and classroom conditions or the amount of

information and the amount of time available sometimes affect the instructor’s presentation.

What students learn in the classroom depends heavily on the instructor. All instructors are not

effective lecturers. Research has indicated that even student evaluations of courses do not

accurately indicate the value and quality of the instruction as much as it does the instructor’s

competence (R. Davis and R. Mendenhall, 1998).

       Physically, the classroom should provide ample room for a lecture and individual spaces

for small group practice. Additionally, the instructor should avoid traditional “school” seating

arrangements. Adults learn best in an informal environment. Psychologically, the classroom

environment promote mutual trust and respect between the students and the instructor

(Parvensky, 1994).

       The field evaluation format was developed to offer students a method of completing a

course at their local fire department and complete tests administered by MSFA personnel.

Additionally, this format allows the local fire department to utilize its own instructors. An

obvious advantage of this format is cost. Basically, the only expenses the customer encounters is

a testing fee. All classroom and outside activities are conducted by the local fire department

personnel. Course fee at the MSFA is as much as $1,200.00. Organizations often enroll several

students in an on-campus course. This can give the training budget a debit to $8,700.00. This

total figure does not include additional costs such as overtime to cover for the firefighters who

are away training, meals, and transportation. It is not uncommon for organizations to encounter

up to $12,000.00 for sending firefighters to an on-campus course. Providing training through the

field evaluation format, creates only a fraction of this total cost . Like the full-time-on-campus

format, the field evaluation format offers the classroom as an advantage. However, this

advantage is limited to the effectiveness of the local training manager. The MFSA provides no

monitoring of classroom presentations. (W. Gray, personal communications, January 20, 2005).

       The field-delivery format was developed to allow a fire department to host a MSFA

course delivered directly by MSFA instructors. Like the field evaluation format, this format

offers an advantage that many fire chiefs love – they keep their personnel in town through the

delivery of the course. Low cost is not an advantage of this format. Local fire departments can

encounter expenses of up to $5,000.00 for a two-week course. This cost includes daily use of

instructors, testing, lodging, and meals for the instructors. This format is very popular among fire

departments that do not have several members trained as instructors (P. Terrell, personnel

communications, January 20. 2005).

       The fourth format is the distant learning format. This format was developed to allow the

student to complete a course without having to be at the MSFA or in a classroom with other

students. Additionally, the format allows a student to complete a course at his/her own pace (W.

Gray, personal communications, January 20, 2005). Within the distant learning format, students

and instructors rarely, if at all, meet face-to-face. They communicate by correspondence, e-mail,

radio, and television. Through distant learning, the participant enrolls in a course and receives a

study package and syllabus from training institution. Some programs have the student meet at a

certain location to complete examinations. Most programs have completion deadlines (Fire

Protection Publications, (2000), pp. 170). The MSFA distant learning format requires the

student to complete all testing at the MSFA. Students are required to purchase a new text. This

mandate helps to eliminate complaints of not having a current manual and manuals that are

already marked (W. Gray, personal communications, January 20, 2005).

       Any training delivery format may be revised to allow a training officer or training

manager to adapt the learning process to the individual needs. The focus must be centered on

established goals and objectives. There are a variety of systems to deliver a training program.

Each of these may be used individually or combined (J. Grimes, personal communications,

November 20, 2005).

Research Question 4:

What are the main challenges to deliver the training?

     Responding to learner needs while meeting the requirements of individual organizations or

jurisdictions, standards, and other laws is the challenge for instructors and training managers.

These requirements will undergo changes to require safer operations and improved services and

skills. Therefore, organizations will need to develop and revise programs that prepare personnel

to apply new knowledge and skills on the job. The constant changes in jobs, communities, and

individual lives, requires people to be committed to lifelong learning. Change continues to be a

part of the fire service. With these changes come the responsibilities of instructors to accept

them, adapt to them, and promote them (Fire Protection Publications, (2000), pp. 3).

     Delivering ICS training to firefighters in Mississippi is a very challenging task. By viewing

the learners as primary and secondary customers, the challenges can be more easily identified.

The primary customer will be the general fire department member. These members may present

challenges such as reluctance to attend the training program, learning disabilities, and lack of

time to attend the training programs. The concept of ICS has been around for a while. Therefore,

some fire service veterans may easily develop the attitude that they already know everything

about ICS. This attitude may easily create or contribute to a reluctance to attend the training

program. And as veteran firefighters, theses members usually serve as an opinion leader with the

fire department. The reluctant attitude may easily be passed on to other fire department members.

To make matters worse, this individual is oftentimes the chief of the fire department. Naturally,

this puts the reluctant individual in the position to disapprove the training program for the entire

fire department (W. Gray, personal communications, January 12, 2005).

     Instructors often discover educational inabilities and learning disabilities as an individual

tries to participate and progress in a training program. Even though instructors may recognize

that individuals are unable to read, write, or comprehend to the expected level, they usually are

not qualified to recognize or identify specific types of learning disabilities. Learners with any

kind of learning disability are at a disadvantage. It could be stated that almost everyone has

some degree of learning disability and almost everyone finds a way to compensate or adjust for

that disability (Fire Protection Publications, (2000), pp. 80-81).

     Volunteer firefighters face many pressures. One of these is time management. Volunteer

firefighters prefer to train at a set time that is scheduled long in advance. Successful volunteer

firefighters build their lives around their training schedule (Bush, Schaenman, and Theil, 1998).

Many chiefs of volunteer fire departments cite lack of time as the primary challenge for getting

members to participate in training programs. Volunteer and many career firefighters must

balance their time among work-related activities and non-firefighting activities. These non-

fighting activities may be in the form of a volunteer firefighter’s full-time job, or in the case of a

career firefighter, his “second job”. Non-fighting activities may also include the firefighter’s

family and social life. When faced with the decision to choose among those options, often,

firefighting activities (training in this case) are given a low priority. The secondary customer of

the ICS training program will be the chief of the department or head of the organization. This is

the customer who may not be the primary recipient of the training, but the individual who

receives the initial information about the training. This individual is in the position to “make or

break” the training program. The MSFA distributes over 3,000 annual course catalogs. The NFA

distributes many annual course catalogs also. These publications likely are forwarded to the

department. Naturally, the chief, or head of the organization receives them first. Many

firefighters state that they never see these publications. Some even claim that their chief

initionally removes the publications from the fire station. There are far too many fire chiefs who

demonstrate this “non-progressive” attitude and behavior. This attitude and behavior could very

likely be a major barrier for ICS training to be delivered state-wide.

(L. Griggs, personal communications, January 20, 2005).


       Research for this paper will be initiated at the Learning Research Center (LRC) on the

campus of the NFA in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The remainder of the research will be conducted

in the author’s home and on the campus of the MSFA.

     To address the question of why it is necessary for all fire departments in Mississippi to

complete ICS training, the author will research books, magazines, and internet sites to gather

information. The author will also interview fire chiefs, fire instructors, and other fire service

leaders in Mississippi. These interviews will focus specifically on the necessity for ICS training

in Mississippi. It will be emphasized to participants that ICS training issues in other states are not

viewed as priority issues for this research. The participants will be Fire Chief Raymond

McNulty, city of Jackson Mississippi; Fire Chief Larry Griggs, city of Greenwood, Mississippi;

Deputy Chief Willie Gray, city of Jackson, Mississippi; Senior Instructor Patrick Terrell,

MSFA; Staff Instructor John Grimes, MSFA; Fire Safety Specialist Jerry O. Clark, New York

Department of State, Division Chief Earth Robinson, city of Greenville, MS; Division Chief

Dave Davidson, Boise, Idaho Fire Department; Deputy Chief Christy Rollwagon, city of

Minneapolis MN, and former Fire Chief Gary Kristler, Saucier, Mississippi Volunteer Fire

Department. Information from Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Charlie Dickenson will also be

included. Fire Chiefs McNulty, Griggs, Gray, and Kristler were selected because each are very

active in fire chief organizations and they are all very knowledgeable of current fire service

issues in Mississippi. Jerry O. Clark was selected because he is a fire service leader in the state of

New York and was at “ground zero” during our national 9-11 incident. Chiefs Davidson and

Rollwagon were selected because they are fire service leaders within their jurisdictions and

students in the NFA Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP). Patrick Terrell and John Grimes

were selected because as training program coordinators at the MSFA, they maintains contact

with most fire chiefs and firefighters in the state. Information from Charlie Dickenson will be

included because as Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator, he is in a position to provide current

knowledge of NIMS and training needs of firefighters. Mr. Dickenson was a guest speaker

during an EFOP course that was attended by the researcher at the NFA. Although, not an actual

interview, Mr. Dickenson provided information by answering questions asked by the researcher

and other participants in the class.

     To address the question of what is the most effective and feasible educational

methodology, the author will research books, magazines, and internet sites to gather information.

The author will also develop and distribute a survey to determine the methodology preferred by

students and fire instructors (see appendix A and B). Twenty-five students from MSFA courses

will be selected to participate in the survey. Additionally, ten fire instructors will be selected.

The fire instructors will be, Patrick Terrell, Durfie Burns, Robert Wedgeworth, John Grimes,

Mike Word, Byran Cunningham, Shannon Sandridge, Billy Whittington, Jerry Clark, and Willie

Gray. All of the instructors (with the exception of Willie Gray) were selected because they are

full-time staff members at the MSFA and they practice a variety of educational methodologies.

Willie Gray was selected because he is a MSFA associate instructor and the chief of training at

the Jackson, Mississippi fire department. He is responsible for selecting and training fire

instructors. Jerry O. Clark was selected because he is a veteran instructor and program developer

for the NFA. Jerry has also delivered a training program in every state of the United States.

     The procedures listed above will also be used to address the question of what is the most

effective and feasible format to deliver the training. Additionally, the same participants will be

selected to participate in the survey (see appendix B).

     To address the question of what are the main challenges to deliver the training, the author

will research books, magazines, and internet sites to gather information. Additionally, the author

will interview the ten fire instructors listed above. The author will also solicit specific comments

on the survey. Applicable written comments will be included to address this question.

     The survey form was developed by the author and reviewed by Fire Chief Darrell

McQuirter of the Clinton, Mississippi Fire Department. Chief McQuirter is currently enrolled in

the Executive Fire Officer program and has completed the first three years of the program.

Approval and clarity acceptance were granted.

       Data collected will be analyzed by computing responses from the participants who

responded to the feedback form. Analysis will be summarized and documented by percentages.

Limitations and Assumptions

       There are several key research components which are beyond the scope of this study.

Fire service leaders who participated in the interviews to address question #1 were all proactive

and already aware of the need for ICS training. This number of proactive participants could

result in favorable comments only about ICS training. The students who participated in the

surveys were all active students in MSFA training programs. This number of active students

result in favorable comments only about educational methodologies and training delivery

formats. The instructors who participated were all experienced instructors and advocates for

training. This also could result in favorable comments only about educational methodologies and

training delivery formats.

       Finally, it is assumed that the participants who participated in the interviews and surveys

answered honestly and accurately.

Definition of Terms

       Field Delivery – a format of training delivery which the local fire department contracts

with the MSFA to deliver the course and administer the tests.

       Field Evaluation – a format of training delivery which the local fire department delivers

the MSFA course and the MSFA administers the tests.

       Distant Learning - a format of training deliver which students individually complete a

course. Course materials are delivered to the student who individually completes assignments.

At certain segments of the course and at the end of the course, the student completes written and

skill examinations.

       General Fire Department Member – a member of a local fire department whose job

includes fire suppression and responding to fire and other emergencies.

       Learning Disability – a challenge possessed by an individual who seems motivated and

has apparent potential for learning but has a low achievement or performance level.


     A total of ten fire service leaders were interviewed. A total of twenty-five students and ten

fire instructors participated in the surveys. Feedback was obtained from 100% of the participants.

     On the issue of question #1, the researcher found that despite the national publicity of ICS,

there are still a significant number of fire departments that are aware of the need for ICS training

but still do not practice the ICS. Additionally, the researcher also found that some fire service

leaders were aware of the federal compliance mandates related to the implementation of NIMS

and ICS. Of the ten fire service leaders interviewed, all provided vital information. Some

information provided was a “repeat” of information obtained from other leaders. Chiefs

Davidson and Rollwagon were interviewed at the beginning of the research procedures while the

researcher was at the NFA. Chiefs McNulty, Kristler, Gray, Robinson, and Griggs were

interviewed during the second and third months of research. Jerry O. Clark, Patrick Terrell, and

John Grimes were interviewed during the third and fourth months of research. All leaders

provided information (in their words) about the need for ICS training and challenges of

implementing it within their jurisdictions. Fire Chief Griggs indicated that the federal

compliance issue is a well-discussed subject. Senior Instructor Terrell indicated that during

various training programs, many Mississippi fire service members lacked basic knowledge and

common terminology of ICS. Research from books, internet sites, and magazines indicate that

ICS training programs should be delivered through established training systems such as state fire


     On the issued of question #2, the researcher found that regardless of the educational

methodology used, each may present advantages and challenges. 100% of the twenty-five

students who participated in a survey (to indicate the educational methodology that was best-

suited for their learning style), favored the demonstration methodology. The next favorite was

the discussion. 80% of ten fire instructors who participated in a similar survey, indicated that the

demonstration was the most effective. While 20% indicated the discussion, none indicated the


      On the issue of question 3, the researcher focused on the four formats that the MSFA uses

to deliver the training. These are; full-time on-campus, field evaluation, field delivery, and

distant learning. The same twenty-five students and ten fire instructors participated in a survey to

indicate the format of training program delivery that is the most convenient and feasible. 80% of

the students selected the traditional on-campus format, 16% favored the field or regional

delivery, while only 4% favored the distant learning format. 60% of the fire instructors selected

the traditional on-campus format and the remaining 40% selected the field or regional format.

All of the instructors were interviewed during the second, third, and fourth months of the

research. All instructors indicated that each format can be effective and convenient given the

“right” situation and “right” students. Most notable were comments from Instructors Grimes and

Burns. Both indicated that the distant learning format does not allow students to participate in

group activities and network with other students, two vital course segments necessary to

accomplish course objectives. Also notable was Jerry Clark’s comment that while a field or

regional format is probably most convenient for any student, the experience of the campus

atmosphere cannot be substituted by any other format. He also stated that on-campus atmosphere

is an experience that every fire service student should experience.

      On the issue of question #4, the researcher found that there are three primary challenges to

delivering the ICS training to firefighters in Mississippi. These are the ever-changing challenges

that fire instructors encounter (learning disabilities, etc), time management of training

participants, and attitudes of some fire chiefs. The ten fire service leaders interviewed to address

the issues of question #1 were also interviewed to determine the main challenges of delivering

the ICS training. The majority of fire service leaders expressed that time management would be

the primary challenge and attitudes would be second. The researcher was able to provide

personal reference. As a veteran fire service leader and educator, the researcher has

communicated with many students (both volunteer and career). Additionally, the researcher has

developed, marketed, and delivered many training programs for the MSFA, NFA, as well as

other public and private organizations. Based on experiences and personal observations, the

researcher disagrees with the fire service leaders. The primary challenge will be the attitudes of

the fire chiefs and perspective students. The researcher found that ICS is not a new term and

convincing some fire chiefs and firefighters that there is something new about would require a

marketing strategy. The initial course announcement and course description must illustrate a

definite change in the course material. All marketing campaigns must ensure the customers that

the course contains material not included in any previous versions.

     Many course developers have found success by adding the year to the title of the course.

Far too often, customers fail to thoroughly read the course description. They erroneously

evaluate the context of the course by the title of the course. For this reason, careful consideration

must be given to the title of the ICS training program (P. Terrell, personal communications,

January 20, 2005).


       Beyond the efforts of the research of this paper, the implementation of this program is

being discussed very little, if any at all. Although, there are mandates to complete ICS training,

some fire chiefs in Mississippi feel that fire departments are expecting to be “grand-fathered” for

any mandatory ICS training. These chiefs were, Larry Griggs, Earth Robinson and Raymond

McNulty. These mandates are HSPD-5 and former Mississippi Governor Musgrove’s Executive

Order 851. There were many fire service leaders who expressed that a primary justification for

ICS training was the necessity to effectively manage an emergency and avoid making ridiculous

mistakes. These leaders were Larry Griggs, Kristy Rollwagon, Jerry O. Clark, and Charlie

Dickenson. The author disagreed that fire departments are expecting to be “grand-fathered”

with ICS training. This is based on the personal observation of many fire departments in

Mississippi that demonstrate an aggressive and progressive behavior. Currently, ICS material is

delivered in some of the current training programs offered by the MSFA. There is constant

participation in these courses and positive feedback is received. Considering the fact that HSPD-

5 was issued by President Bush two years after Mississippi’s Governor Ronnie Musgrove issued

his executive order, the author feels that the State of Mississippi is to be considered a

“trailblazer” in mandating the use of the ICS.

       International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) Fire and Emergency Service

Instructor manual provided a thorough description of various educational methodologies. These

included lecture, discussion, illustration and discussion. The majority of fire instructors

surveyed expressed that the demonstration was the most effective educational methodology.

Additionally, the majority of the students expressed this same methodology (demonstration) was

the method that best suited their learning style. The author agrees that students may learn faster

and retain material longer when they are more involved. However, many courses (such as ICS)

may have limited demonstration activities. Fire Instructors must accept responsibility to make

training interesting. Instructor Daniel Cross provided a very interesting comment to defend the

lecture methodology. He stated that the lecture methodology could be the most misused

instructional methodology. While many people view the lecture as boring, Instructor Cross point

out that the lecture itself cannot be boring --- the instructor can be boring instead. He also made a

notable point about the responsibility of an instructor to ensure that his/her lecture is exciting.

Catherine Parvensky’s comment about instructors with limited awareness was very notable. She

emphasize that learners are often placed in a classroom with an instructor who lack adequate

awareness of the adult learning process. Considering that most, if not all, of Mississippi’s

firefighters are adults, this is a very vital point. Most of the instructors who participated in the

survey favored the demonstration methodology. As a veteran instructor, the author has used

many educational methodologies. Considering various personalities, class locations, and other

uncontrollable factors, the author endorses Candy Rostan’s comments about educational

methodologies. She emphasized that instructors can best approach training by presenting

material in a variety of methods. Instructors should observe their effectiveness with each group

and adjust their teaching as needed.

        The MSFA has found success in delivering training through full-time on-campus, field

evaluation, field delivery, and distant learning formats. Although students and instructors who

participated in the surveys favored the traditional on-campus format, the author has experienced

much success with each of the other three formats. The author feels that, similar to the strategy

of using various educational methodologies, training managers must consider several factors

before selecting a training program delivery format. Some of these factors include number of

students, costs, and availability of in-house instructors. While the distant learning format appears

to be the least favorite of survey participants, the authors has developed and implemented a very

successful distant learning program. This format allows students with specific personality traits

to complete a course at their own pace. While disliked by many students, this format is a very

convenient avenue for students to complete a course without “leaving their hometown” or being

confined to a classroom.

        The major challenges identified to delivery ICS training appears to be consistent with

challenges to delivery most leadership/management related courses. The author does agree with

the fire instructors that time management is a major challenge for volunteer firefighters to attend

training. As a veteran instructor supervisor, the author finds that each year, he is challenged to

schedule a specific number of courses while considering factors such as primary and secondary

jobs (of firefighters), planting and harvesting seasons, hunting and fishing seasons, church

functions, and family life. Compound time management with the “non-progressive” (Fire Chief

Larry Grigg’s comments) attitude and behavior, and training managers will face major

challenges to deliver ICS training. IFSTA’s Fire and Emergency Service Instructor manual stated

an important point about the challenge of learning disabilities. By emphasizing that learners with

any type of disability and everyone, to some degree, everyone has a learning disability, the

manual highlighted the need for all learners to find a way to compensate or adjust to that


        As it prepares to develop and implement a training program to delivery ICS training to all

firefighters in Mississippi, the researcher feels that the MSFA must waste little in developing the

program. Considering that President Bush and former Governor Musgrove has already issued

directives mandating the use of ICS, the firefighters are in need of training now. The MSFA must

consider the training delivery challenges and ensure that effective educational methodologies and

the appropriate training delivery format are used. Firefighter will be expecting an exciting

training program, one that does not simply address the routine incident management issues. The

number of firefighters are steadily increasing. The MSFA must select a training delivery format

to overcome the challenges of time management, seasonal activities, church functions and others.

Because, despite the challenges, some fire chiefs have great expectations of the program and all

firefighters are currently functioning under a mandate to implement the ICS at all emergency



       Based on this study, the MSFA must market the ICS training in a manner that ensures

Mississippi fire chiefs that it is a result of the federal and state mandates. This market strategy

will help obtain the endorsements of the fire chiefs. Instructors should utilize the demonstration

and discussion educational methodologies. This is based on the percentage of students and

instructors who favored these methodologies. Naturally, lectures will be necessary. However,

the instructors must ensure that their lecture is interesting and is adjusted to meet the needs of

adult learners. This is based on the comments referencing that lectures are boring. Based on the

percentage of participants who favored the traditional on-campus format, the program should be

delivered on-campus. To meet the need of the majority of firefighters, however, the program

should be delivered in a field delivery format also. To ensure the training will be on-going, the

MSFA must address the primary challenges of delivering the program. The course should be

offered on week days during the late evening hours. Wednesdays will be avoided. This is due to

the popularity of our state-wide Wednesday night bible study.

       Any state fire training organizations considering the implementation of a statewide ICS

training program may consider several issues. Some of these include; provide firefighters in

advance with a training schedule, consider establishing a training calendar for the entire year so

that firefighter can plan around it and offer training at convenient times. Organizations should

avoid conducting training during seasonal events or activities. These may include

planting/harvesting crop days, holidays, etc. Additionally, to avoid training being perceived as a

burden, organizations should implement ideas to make training wanted. ICS training should be

marketed with a title that is considered important to the firefighter. Scenarios should be

implemented into training programs. Scenarios should allow the students to use many of the

skills they have previously learned. To help avoid students viewing the training as redundant or

unnecessary, outside instructors should be recruited.

          Future readers should consider reading publications related to NIMS mandates and

challenges of delivering training to firefighters and adult learners. These materials should

provide readers with currents issues relating to NIMS mandates and teaching firefighters. Future

readers must consider that this research was conducted in the southeastern United States. Some

issues may be related to geographical traditions. One of these traditions is the popular

Wednesday night bible study at church. This function may not be a challenge in other parts of the



FEMA, (2004, August). National Incident Management System (NIMS) Self-Study Guide

       Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy, pp. 1-2.

FEMA, (1997, April). Training Program Management: Instructor Guide, Emmitsburg, MD:

       National Fire Academy, pp. 2-12 and 3-14.

FEMA, (2004, August). Executive Analysis of Fire Service Operations in Emergency

       Management: Student Manual, Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy, pp. 2-2.

State of Mississippi, (2001, October). Executive Order Number 851. Jackson, MS: Office of the


NIMS online, (2004). NIMS ICS Position Paper Release by the NIMS Integration Center,

       November 18, 2004. Retrieved on January 9, 2005 from

Davies, Randall, S. and Mendenhall, Robert, W, (1998). Evaluation Comparison of Online and

       Classroom Instruction for HEPE 120 – Fitness and Lifestyle Management Course,

       August 17, 1998. Retrieved on January 25, 2005 from

Stearns, Holly Gray (2004). IAFC Member Testifies on NIMS: On Scene pp 1-3, Fairfax, Va.:

       International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Fire Protection Publications. (2000). IFSTA Fire and Emergency Services Instructor 6th Edition,

       (pp.3, 80-81, and 162-169). Still Water Oklahoma.

Rostan, Candy (2003, November). The Impact of Adult Learning Styles: APCO Bulletin, pp 34.

       Daytona Beach, Florida.

Parvensky, Catherine, A (1994, November). Teaching Adult Learners: They’re Not Just Big

       Kids: Firehouse, pp 52-56. Melville, New York.

Bush, Reade, Schaenman, Philip, and Theil, Katherine (1998, December). Recruitment and

       Retention in the Volunteer Fire Service: Problems and Solutions, pp. 60-61.Arlington,


                                          Appendix A

This feedback form is part of my Executive Fire Officer Applied Research Project. Your

response is needed and valued. Responding to any or all questions is voluntary. Your assistance

is appreciated. Steve Bardwell. Circle your answers.

       1. Based on your learning style and background, rate the following methods of

           instruction/training that you feel best suits your learning style. Assume that you are

           a student participating in a training program: (Place an X in the appropriate column)

              Method of Instruction        Not Effective        Effective        Very

                   Lecture                                         X
                  Discussion                                                       X
                 Demonstration                  X

                      Method of           Not Effective         Effective        Very
                  Instruction                                                  Effective

           Lecture- The instructor provides the new material by talking and explaining.

           Discussion – Allows for interaction between the instructor and students.

           Demonstration – Students are showed how to do something.

           Comments: _____________________________________________________





2. Based on your learning style, background and any other issues, rate the following

   training program delivery formats that you feel is most convenient and feasible for

   you. Assume that you are a student seeking to enroll in a new course : (Place an X in

   the appropriate column)

       Method of Training          Not Desirable         Desirable        Most
        Program Delivery                                                 Desirable

     Traditional On-Campus                                                  X
     Field/Regional Delivery                                 X
        Distance Learning                                    X

       Method of Training          Not Desirable         Desirable        Most
        Program Delivery                                                 Desirable
     Traditional On-Campus
     Field/Regional Delivery
        Distance Learning

   Traditional On-Campus Delivery – All classroom sessions, activities, and testing is

done on the campus of the training facility.

   Field/Regional Delivery – Classroom sessions, activities, and testing is done a the

host fire department.

   Distant Learning – Students attend no classroom sessions or activities. Students

study material sent to them by mail or email. Any practice is generally done solely by the

student at their home or fire department. Students come of the training facility to

complete their tests.

Comments: ______________________________________________________________



                                           Appendix B

This feedback form is part of my Executive Fire Officer Applied Research Project. Your

response is needed and valued. Responding to any or all questions is voluntary. Your assistance

is appreciated. Steve Bardwell. Circle your answers.

       1. Based on your experience as a fire service instructor, rate the following methods of

           instruction/training that you feel is effective for the typical member of a fire

           department in Mississippi: (Place an X in the appropriate column)

              Method of Instruction        Not Effective         Effective         Very

                   Lecture                                          X
                  Discussion                                                        X
                 Demonstration                   X

                      Method of            Not Effective         Effective         Very
                  Instruction                                                    Effective

           Comments: _____________________________________________________







2. Based on your experience as a fire service instructor, rate the following training

   program delivery formats that you feel is most convenient and feasible (for the typical

   member of a fire department in Mississippi) : (Place an X in the appropriate column)

       Method of Training          Not Desirable         Desirable       Most
        Program Delivery                                                Desirable

     Traditional On-Campus                                                 X
     Field/Regional Delivery                                 X
        Distance Learning                                    X

       Method of Training          Not Desirable         Desirable       Most
        Program Delivery                                                Desirable
     Traditional On-Campus
     Field/Regional Delivery
        Distance Learning

   Comments: _____________________________________________________