The fire service today is markedly different from the service that existed 100, 50, or even 10 years ago. Not only have the apparatus and techniques changed, but also the personnel and role of the fire service. With the advent of formalized education programs, a firefighter has been elevated from that of a mere doer to that of a technician. Increased demands for service have expanded the role of the fire service into areas beyond fire protection. New responsibilities include: hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, and advanced life support.
It is the responsibility of the Marin County Fire Department’s Training Division to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s fire service. Fifty years ago, department training was limited to the equipment and techniques utilized to combat wildland fires. Today, in addition to instructing numerous firefighting skills, the training program includes lessons on hazardous materials, urban, water and confined space rescue, rope rescue, advanced and basic life support, automatic defibrillation, and cardio pulmonary resuscitation.
As the professionalism of firefighters continues to evolve, career ladders that identify required skills must also evolve. Through the leadership and recommendations of the Marin County Training and Education Committee, the Training Division maintains career ladders for all positions. These career ladders identify training standards for all personnel and guarantee minimum levels of proficiency. Additionally, these career ladders have led to the development of many in-house training courses that include: a basic fire academy for new employees, a wildland fire academy for seasonal firefighters and other agencies, a water tender operations course, and an off-road driving course.