Education & Training Resources



Welcome to Education and Training Resources! 


Our goal is to provide a forum of resources from which Communicators can draw valuable tools, tips and information in support of job performance objectives and standards. Core competencies (skills specific) will be explored as well as the changing and emerging issues that impact Fire and Emergency Services.

 This site will provide readers with monthly submissions on topics such as: 

  • Receiving and Processing Emergency Calls
  • Providing Logistical Support to the Incident
  • Maintaining Radio Communication
  • Processing Incident Documentation
  • Maintaining Emergency Communication Centre Equipment and Facilities
  • Maintaining Information Systems
  • Performing Public Relations and Public Education Activities
  • Performing Non-Emergency & Administrative Duties and Training
  • Maintaining Communication Centre Security
  • Demonstrating Commitment to Personal and Professional Development  

Training Committee Statement of Goals 

To provide a forum of resources from which Communicators can draw valuable tools, tips and information in support of job performance objectives and standards. Core competencies (skills specific) will be explored as well as the changing and emerging issues that impact fire and emergency services.

 Job Performance Objectives and Standards 

  • Receive and Process Emergency Calls
  • Provide Logistical Support to the Incident
  • Maintain Radio Communication
  • Process Incident Documentation
  • Maintain Emergency Communication Centre Equipment and Facilities
  • Maintain Information Systems
  • Perform Public Relations and Public Education Activities
  • Perform Non-Emergency & Administrative Duties and Training
  • Maintain Communication Centre Security
  • Demonstrates Commitment to Personal and Professional Development

 Long Term Goal – to support and assist with the implementation of the certification process for Communicators in the Ontario Fire Service

 Certification Requirements 

  • Awaiting NFPA info.....

 Level of Commitment : 

  • Creating submissions - 2 to 3 hrs monthly

Checking website/responding to inquiries – 30 minutes to 1 hour weekly





Ongoing Training

When looking at ongoing training for your centre on dispatching and radio communications, what topics make your priority list?

- Basic radio communications skills?

- Radio equipment knowledge

- Radio console knowledge and skill?

- Dispatch sequence?

- Response knowledge?

- Emergency radio procedures?

As mentioned in the last article on Call Taking Skills, review of the basic skills should be ongoing in Communication Centres. This may be formal training and review or included in training with more advanced skills. If you are reviewing your Department’s portable radio function, include some radio checks or the phonetic alphabet to ensure your Dispatchers are still on top of their basics. If your Communication Centre looks after the radio inventory for the Department, look at the equipment, either through regularly scheduled radio checks or using spare radios you have available.

Do the consoles in your centre have functions that aren’t used every day?  Some radio consoles may offer different set ups that are pre-programmed to be useful in different situations.  Can your Dispatchers remember these and access them quickly as needed?  Does your console offer the ability to patch channels together?  Are the patches preset or can they be programmed on the fly?  Your Department, and neighbouring Departments, should have a plan for Mutual Aid calls and radio protocols.

Dispatch sequence.  This describes the procedure expected for a standard dispatch.  This could include when to mark the CAD, picking the radio channel, activating tones or pagers and how the required information should be relayed.  Establishing a dispatch sequence for your Communication Centre helps ensure consistency in dispatches. 

Keep response knowledge in mind.  With CAD systems offering complex response rules to Fire Departments, knowing response rules has become more challenging.  Manual dispatch systems, ready to be used if the computers fail, should include the response rules as well, so Dispatchers do not have to rely on memory.  Training can include discussion of reasons for different responses to aid Dispatchers.

Emergency radio procedures should be included in regular training.  If Fire Fighters are completing their training and your Centre is able to participate, it will provide more hands on training.  Dispatchers should always be prepared to act appropriately if a MAYDAY is called.

Staying on top of radio skills ensures Dispatchers are confident and ready to do their part in fire fighter and public safety.

Please check back again for more articles.

Donna Beke


Training Points to Ponder:  Receiving and Processing Emergency Calls 

What makes your priority list when you look at ongoing training for on receiving and processing emergency calls at your centre?

·         Refreshing on Primary call taking skills?

·         Review Secondary call taking skills?

·         Working with Suppression crews to improve secondary call taking skills to better meet their needs?

·         Post-incident review with Communicators or with Suppression?

·         New and upcoming technology advancements?

·         Customer Service?

Let’s focus on a few of these.

Call Taking Skills

How do your senior Communicators accept ongoing training?  Anyone can fall into bad habits, and the longer these habits go on, the more difficult it is turn them around.  Regular review of basic skills is a tradition in the Fire Service.   And the Communicator’s basic skills are primary and secondary call taking skills.  Introducing a regular training activity to reinforce these skills is important, as is getting feedback from your senior Communicators.  Are your experienced personnel willing and able to share their experience to benefit the rest of the staff?  Give them a way of sharing, like soliciting feedback from training and see how much they cooperate. Perhaps start with interview techniques for different callers (hysterical or resistant caller, or children) and concentrate on the Communicators’ problem-solving skills to find the information needed from them.

Working with Suppression

If your training is provided by your Training Division, your Communicators may receive training alongside Suppression crews.  You can take advantage of this by soliciting input from responders to ensure your call taking and questioning practice is meeting their needs.  Conversations with Suppression or Training personnel, whether within your department or the external departments you serve, will let you know if you are meeting their needs.  Just ask.  You may have to dig a little, but the feedback can be invaluable.  Ask them what they would want to know while en route to a call.  If your Communicators use structured questioning methods, review the process with Suppression and ask if anything is missing from their perspective.

If you handle training within the Communications Centre, keep Suppression’s perspective in mind.


Customer Service

This can be tricky when processing emergency calls.  We need to ensure we are gathering the necessary information efficiently and accurately.  We need to treat callers with respect and work with them, while still controlling the call and completing the call taking tasks to ensure an appropriate response is sent. 

For Further Thought

This list is far from complete, and we’ve only scratched the surface.  We hope to have more articles in the coming months that address the points we didn’t cover, like new and emerging technology and post-incident review, as well as topics supplies by you, the reader.


So, what makes your priority list when you look at ongoing training for on receiving and processing emergency calls at your centre?


Effective Communications

 Emergency Service Communication is unique in structure as it plays a vital role in the provision of imparting information, specifically mandated to: 

  • Save Lives
  • Provide Rescue
  • Preserve Nature
  • Preserve Property
  • Provide Public Safety 

Communication is defined as something imparted or transmitted, therefore a Communicator is someone who gives a share of, reveals, and/or makes known their intentions. In order for this to occur a rapport has to be established with the caller, at call onset. It is imperative that the caller recognize they have the attention of a trained professional who will initiate a response to their emergency.   Voice quality is essential in this process as being aware of your tone, grammar and vocabulary is not only representative of your communication skills, but that of your Fire Department and the entire Municipality/City for whom you are employed.   Creating this rapport will result in caller reassurance and reduced stress levels. 

The emergency call taking process requires a learned behavior with the identification of caller profiles by incorporating appropriate communication styles. Taking control of the caller thru structured questioning is essential in preventing excessive information from presiding over the information gathering process. 




Confident, Controlled and Competent = Professional, Accountable and Responsible!