Competence vs. compliance: Know the difference for firefighter training and discipline

To be competent in the profession is a skill; compliance will always be a choice

The trials and tribulations of the fire services require firefighters, at every rank, to use critical-thinking skills and move forward with decisive action. However, whether in the training environment, on the fireground or at the firehouse, issuesin broad terms – will arise. These issues will vary in scope, magnitude and consequence, but will ultimately come down to a simple matter of competence versus compliance.

This is the problem and solution for this discussion: A simple system can be used to prevent, address, correct and promote behaviors.

There is a critical distinction that needs to be highlighted here: Qualified does not mean competent. When we discuss competence, we should parse words. In fact, the distinction is so critical that OSHA has defined both:

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