The Council on Firefighter Training (COFT) has several projects underway. The Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit Program continues to expand and grow. The Training Task Force (TTF) work has yielded a wealth of information, and the development of a comprehensive Oklahoma firefighter training model quickly progresses. Additionally, utilizing information acquired from COFT fire service partners, COFT is busy analyzing data and exploring things such as the relationship between Oklahoma communities' per capita dollar loss and firefighter training. A new Recognition Program to denote a firefighter's level of completed training (via the use of a patching system) is currently in the works, and the Regional Training Advisors (RTAs) continue their work by visiting fire departments across Oklahoma, gathering and sharing information.
Now for a little COFT history... Recognizing the need for a fire service organization dedicated to firefighter training, the Oklahoma State Legislature passed House Bill 2372 in 2004 creating COFT. The legislature tasked COFT with five responsibilities:
- Identifying firefighter training needs and setting firefighter training goals for both career and volunteer firefighters.
- Interacting with the Oklahoma office of Homeland Security.
- Administering and maintaining incentive and recognition programs established for Oklahoma firefighters.
- Ensuring that the state has consistent basic and continuing education programs that include steps for all ranks or positions of career and volunteer firefighters, by setting minimum standards for career, recommended levels for volunteer, identifying training programs and courses required for fire service members to achieve those levels.
- Advising the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, as well as the Oklahoma Fire Service with an annual report.
In 2005 the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit Program began, and this program allowed volunteer firefighters to receive a state tax credit based on their completed training. In 2006 COFT formed the TTF committee of fire service representatives who met to assess Oklahoma firefighter training needs, and they have been working towards the development of an Oklahoma firefighter training model. In addition to the TTF, COFT maintained other committees, such as the Recognition and Incentive Committees, created to develop programs (in addition to the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit Program) to promote and encourage firefighter training.
In 2008 the RTA program began. RTAs acted as liasons between COFT and Oklahoma fire departments, and they acquired and spread information about training concerns and opportunities, grants, and COFT incentive and recognition programs. Each year COFT has submitted an annual report to the Governor, Speaker, and President Pro Tempore highlighting that fiscal year's work.