Sunday, February 12, 2012

Permission to Train?

I'm curious about something.

When I joined the fire department, the bylaws required a member to get permission to take any training class that would cost the department more than $50. The reason given was that there was a limited training budget, so they needed to be sure there was money available, and that some people would take expensive training, and then disappear, leave the department, never to be heard from again, and they wanted to keep that from happening.

I don't believe that requiring permission first WILL "keep that from happening," so I'm not much impressed by that line of reasoning. I do understand the bit about needing to be sure there is money in the training budget.

Since our department is small, and my desire for training is large, I started paying for much of my training myself, so as not to overwhelm the training budget. I knew there was no way the department could afford to pay for all the training I wanted, while still using the budget effectively to provide training for the whole company.

The bylaws were recently changed, and for reasons other than those previously given, the current requirement is that every member receive advance permission for ALL training, even if it doesn't cost the  company or the fire district any money.

The original proposal was that such permission, from the chief, and approved by the fire commissioners ( a process that could take several weeks, depending on when permission was requested, since the commissioners don't meet every week) was required before REGISTERING for any training.  We successfully pointed out that sometimes, opportunities for training come up very quickly, or schedules are not made available until the last minute, and a lot of training might be made impossible to attend if a person had to get permission basically before they even knew about the class. It was amended to the current bylaw, that permission (from both the chief and commissioners) must be received before ATTENDING any training, anywhere, even if the member is paying for all associated costs themselves.

I think this is ridiculous, and will act to DISCOURAGE people from training.

For one thing, why would any chief ever deny someone permission to take any class, or attend any training? For what possible reason would permission ever be denied? If the person is paying for the class themselves, there is no financial reason, at all. What other valid reason could there be?

For another, as an example, if I decide to go to EMS Today, at my own expense, to spend time in the exhibit hall, and I end up taking one of the free CME classes offered there... why should I be penalized for that? Why should I be put in the position of having "not followed the bylaws" and opened myself up to being reprimanded, and called before some disciplinary board? Does that make ANY sense at all?

And how does this play out for training classes online?
If I see a link on someone's blog, for some free online training, and it sounds interesting... do I have to wait until I can get permission, possibly for weeks, before I can click that link?

So I'm curious.
Do other places require permission(s) before attending training that you pay for yourself?
Has it ever been an issue?

Seems to me that agencies should be actively encouraging people to take advantage of available training, not throwing up roadblocks in their way.


  1. I hate to open a can of worms here but red flags are just sprouting up everywhere here. First of all no one. That's NO ONE! has to give you permission to take a public, or private course if you are paying for it! Now I am not in anyway related to a fire organization but and this is a big BUT I have always heard that grants are much easier for fire depts then EMS ( my boss's bitch about it constantly), especially after 9/11,and especially grants for education. That said, I think someone might want to check into why they are not applying for such grants or in the worse case scenario, where the money for education is truely going. Not accusing anyone in your organization but... something smells mighty, mighty fishy.

  2. That's idiotic. Nothing but a power trip.