Professional Development is divided into two divisions: Workforce Development and Career Development.
Workforce Development is charged with the responsibility of educating the trainees. Career Development strives for excellence through training of our firefighters and support personnel.
The Val Jahnke Training Facility is the educational hub for the Houston Fire Department.
Also see: Officer Development Center & Training Simulator
Workforce Development is under the control of a Training Chief, who is responsible for the educational success of the new trainees. Included in the Chief's responsibilities, is the overseeing of the daily trainee development including motivational sessions, discipline, and documentation of relevant information pertaining to every facet of the trainee's development. As part of this job the Training Chief also acts as the liaison between the Houston Fire Department and the Houston Community College Fire Program Managers. Through monitoring and performance checks, we insure that a quality firefighter is produced.
The goal of the Workforce Development Program is to enhance the department's overall operations by ensuring complete Fire and EMS training of qualified entry-level personnel. Under the supervision of a Senior Captain Class Leaders/Captains are responsible for the management of the recruit class including documentation, discipline, inspections and equipment issued during training, daily operations associated with recruit training and the coordination of the graduation ceremonies. The Senior Captain provides weekly and monthly reports to the Training Chief.
Our regular Recruit Training Class consists of a 30-week program. The desire to learn and serve the community is instilled in our new recruits from their first day at the academy. A positive attitude, physical stamina and an awareness of safety issues are key traits desired by this training program, which includes both EMS and Fire-Rescue curriculums.
Our Fast track classes take already certified firefighters and EMT's and teach them the "Houston Way". This class takes from 8 to 10 weeks depending on whether or not they are put through EMT Refresher school.
Career Development is under the direction of a District Chief who is responsible for the College Program, National Fire Academy, Officer Development Program, Continuing Education, and HFD Liaison to the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. In addition, responsibilities include administration of personnel records, facilities, the resource-learning center, in-service training, the development and delivery of new and existing programs, continuing education training, and providing constant leadership and direction in all areas of training for the Houston Fire Department.
This program encourages firefighters to acquire college degrees in the following areas:
Associate of Applied Science Degree
Fire Protection Technology
Engineering Technology with a Fire/Safety Option
Fire and Emergency Management
Opportunities for degrees can be found at the following academic institutions:
University of Houston Downtown
University of Houston Clear Lake
University of Houston University Park
West Texas A&M
Oklahoma State University
Houston Community College
San Jacinto College
College of the Mainland
Western Illinois University
Our Lady of the Lake University
National Fire Academy - The premier training institution for the fire service is the National Fire Academy located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This facility has a comprehensive curriculum that offers courses in every discipline within the fire service. The United States Fire Administration pays all expenses other than a $180 meal ticket for each participating member. This $180 meal ticket is paid for by the fire department. The only out-of-pocket expenses are personal incidentals purchased during your stay.
Officer Development Program
This program brings in the best trainers in the fire service to conduct management and leadership classes. The Officer Development Program provides officers an opportunity to improve their management skills and fire tactics. This program also meets the requirements of Insurance Services Offices (ISO) and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.
Texas Commission on Fire Protection Liaison
The Texas Commission on Fire Protection is a state agency that regulates the fire service in Texas. The Liaison attends quarterly meetings in Austin and participates on various committees affecting the operation of the department.
Program Development and Delivery
A team of Captains research and develop curriculum, audiovisual support, lesson plans, records maintenance, student attendance, and handouts for new department programs. Delivery of these programs are prepared by this staff or distributed as "train the trainer" programs. On-going classes include Saving Our Own and Multi-company drills.
The Engineer/Operator team consists of three or four Captains. Their responsibilities include a forty-hour Driver/Operator pump program with Texas Commission on Fire Protection, an eight-hour Engineer/Operator Program (90% of all current Engineer/Operators have completed this training), the sixteen-hour NAPD Drivers Training Program (National Academy for Professional Driving). Other responsibilities include the writing and updating of the apparatus familiarity manuals, conducting annual hose testing, scheduling multi-company drills, scheduling Saving Our Own classes, training stations on new apparatuses when they are assigned to them, acting as water supply officers, testing of nozzles, hose and foam for the department, and managing the hydrant program.
Water Supply Officer
Composed of the three captains of the Engineer/Operator Team, their main function is to respond to all multi-alarm fires to act as a water supply resource for the incident commander and the crews at the scene. Acting in this consulting capacity, they diagnose water supply problems and create solutions to any water supply deficiencies. At the conclusion of each fire, the water supply officers file a report with the Fire Chief describing their experiences at the fire scene and are available for Post Critique Sessions. Lessons learned are recycled into the training process.
District Chief Ken Tyner has spearheaded a joint hydrant program with the City of Houston Public Works to identify, rename and map all the hydrants in Houston. Up to this time, Public Works had one nomenclature for the hydrants and the HFD had another. Upon completion of this program, Public Works will be better able to process our requests for repairs of the hydrants and a more reliable inventory of the hydrants will be in place.
Learning Resource Center (LRC )
The LRC is the department's source for books, magazines, periodicals, federal, state and departmental reports, audio and visual resources and other various reference materials as well as a work area for fire and EMS personnel. Resources can be checked out for use in the stations. The Learning Resource Center has recently added a section with information on educational opportunities to allow members to research the availability of educational programs. As new books or tapes are added to the resource center, a list is constantly updated and distributed to the members in the field.
The Field Training Officer Program allows Captains to provide probationary firefighters with their first year of specific skills training while assigned to emergency operations duty.
Field Training Officers - Responsible for ensuring proper documentation is maintained on all probationary firefighters, and monitoring the progress of probationary firefighters.
The District Training Officer Program is responsible for effectively and uniformly managing training conducted in the Houston Fire Department.
District Training Officer - Responsible for conducting and documenting training within their assigned districts and assisting the FTO when needed..
Responsible for ensuring that all classified personnel meet the state mandated training requirements, and that training programs are certified by federal, state and local jurisdictions. Under the direction of a captain, classes are developed for on-line distribution to the members. In addition, responsibilities include ensuring continuing education records are recorded promptly and accurately and assigning class codes to new programs as they become certified.
This office is responsible for the management and monitoring of issues concerning federal, state and local certifications for Houston Fire Department classified personnel. Personnel are responsible for compiling and organizing paperwork certifying all department training, maintaining care and custody of department training records, and serving as liaison to state regulatory agencies in all fire licensing issues.
Training Record Inspection
Under the supervision and guidance of a Senior Captain, this duty includes the inspection of Continuing Education and Risk Management training records at the fire stations. These records are inspected to determine that all Emergency Operation firefighters have received two hours of Continuing Education Training, one hour of Risk Management training, and twenty-four hours of in-service training per month
The captain Log-book is inspected to determine that entries have been made for all training classes, and apparatus and radio inspection. District Training Officers and Field Training Officers records are inspected. Checking FTO's records assure that probationary firefighters are obtaining sufficient and proper training.
Probationary Firefighter Phase Testing
This duty entails testing probationary firefighters' physical and mental abilities while they are in the early stage of being a professional firefighter. They are given from two to four phase tests, depending on the level of training they received while in fire school (fast track or regular trainee). Each phase test consists of a Fitness Test, a Physical Agility Course, and a Written Test.
The Fitness test includes:
1 ½ Mile Run (to be completed in not more than 11 minutes, 30 seconds)
20 Setups (must be completed in 1 minute)
10 Push-ups ( must be completed in 1 minute)
3 Pull-ups ( must be completed in 1 minute
The Physical Agility Course includes:
- Ladder Extension: Extending the Fly section of a 35 feet extension ladder. Member has 45 seconds to complete skill.
- Stair Climb: Member climbs six flights of stairs to the roof of the Drill Tower and back down to the ground. While performing this course, member has a fold of hose on his shoulder and is dressed in full gear with SCBA. Member has 2 minutes, 45 seconds to complete skill.
- Equipment Hoist: Member hoist (1) 50' section of fire hose from the ground to the stair landing of the 4 th floor of the Drill Tower. Member is in full gear with SCBA. Member has 22 seconds to complete skill.
- Portable Equipment Carry: Member carries a box of weights (75 pounds) to a distance of 100 feet out and 100 feet back to starting point. Member wears full gear and SCBA. Member has 45 seconds to complete skill.
- Rescue Attempt: Member carry or drags a 150 pound human-form-replica to a distance of 100 feet. Member wears full gear and SCBA. Member has 25 seconds to complete skill.
- Donning SCBA: Member must complete this skill in 45 seconds (this skill is required only for Phase 1).
- Pumper Hook- up: Member must complete this skill in 2 minutes (this skill is required only for Phase 2).
The Written test consists of a compilation of HFD Guidelines.
Coordinator of Field Training Officers
This duty consists of conducting a Field Training Officer orientation class for new FTO's and to provide updated information and changes to pre-assigned FTO's. The coordinator is available to answer questions for FTO's or to discuss any problems that the FTO's may be having with their probationary firefighters.
Structural Firefighting Refresher Training
Firefighters (staff personnel; injured; re-instatement) who haven't been assigned to Emergency Operation for one year or more must attend a 40 hour course in Structural Firefighting Refresher Training before returning to Emergency Operation. This course includes various subjects; for example:
- Review of SCBA
- Search and Rescue
- Incident Management System
- Radio Procedure
- Thermal Imager
- Videos of various subjects
- HFD Guidelines
- Bulletins; Orders; Training Bulletins
- Live Fire Training
Firefighters attending refresher training are given a written test (50 questions) before completing the course. Firefighters must pass the test before they are assigned to Emergency Operation.
The maintenance section is responsible for overseeing the daily maintenance of the facilities, equipment and vehicles assigned to the Val Jahnke Training Facility. A captain is responsible for maintaining an accurate inventory of all tools, equipment, fuel and supplies and ensuring that all are kept at an acceptable level; maintaining a log of ongoing projects and providing progress reports to the District Chief in charge.
The Wellness/Fitness Center houses various health and fitness equipment, cardiovascular testing equipment here at the Val Jahnke Training Facility. The goal is to improve firefighter fitness and stamina, thus improving job performance and promoting health and happiness. Through a partnership with the fitness staff, fitness programs are designed for our recruits that will follow them throughout their careers.
A Wellness/Fitness Coordinator under the Finance and Administration Division is responsible for providing direction to promote fitness/wellness programs for all Houston Fire Department personnel. This coordinator is responsible for maintaining fitness records for Houston Fire Department personnel, developing and training the fire trainee to improve physical strength and cardiovascular conditioning, holding nutritional seminars and procuring exercise equipment. This coordinator also maintains a fitness/wellness section in the Resource Center where books and videos are available for the use of our members.
A Fitness Trainer assists Houston Fire Department members in developing individual fitness programs, demonstrating the proper techniques for use of exercise equipment, assisting in trainee physical fitness training.