Description and evaluation of current fire service training materials development

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Phil Doughty

Second Advisor

Dana B. Hart


Fire service, Training materials, Instructional development

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Instructional Media Design


This study addresses the constant and compelling issue of on-the-job accidents and fatalities of firefighters. Line of duty deaths (LODDs) have remained essentially steady (100+ each year for the last decade) despite heightened attention to the issue and a seemingly decreased risk due to a significant reduction in the number of structure fires. LODD prevention is a central component of firefighter training and is linked to three key job performance factors: training, motivation, and work culture. Attempts to alter the trend of LODDs have included modifications in the training curricula and have had no real effect. According to fire service literature cultural change is required, including that part of the culture that creates training materials. The study addresses this concern by asking Does the process of design and development of firefighter training materials reflect competency-based methods? From an instructional and curriculum development perspective, the study can be viewed as a front-end analysis of practitioners' approach to training materials development.

The study was organized around commercial publishers of training materials. Data collection employed methods of non-participant observations and interviews and data analysis consisted of gap analysis with an evaluation of the training materials development practices as they compared with industry-validated curriculum and instructional development standards.

The study produced rich results with multiple theoretical and practical implications. First, it produced descriptive results about actual practices. Second, it applied theoretical principles of adult and vocational education, social learning, and human performance technology. Third, the study drew conclusions about gaps in the practices and formed a model for future instructional and curriculum development. Publishers and fire service institutions can employ this theory-based model to develop training materials that reflect relevant changes in the fire service and move to decrease the risk of LODD by improving the transfer of knowledge and skills during firefighter training.


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