An interesting question was posed to me today - can a volunteer who participates in a one-person drill be awarded a point under the drill category?
My initial reaction was no - there is no such thing as a one-person drill. But then I stopped to think about it.
Article 11-A doesn't define a drill. It simply requires the drill be a minimum of two hours in duration.
Article 11-AA and 11-AAA define a drill to be "a skills practice or skills training session related to emergency medical service". Although these sections of the statute do not apply to a fire department LOSAP, it is reasonable to use this definition.
So the next logical question is, can a skills practice or skills training session be a single-person event?
The person who asked the question gave me several examples of skills a firefighter could practice on his/her own - things he felt were legitimate skills that need practicing for when they are needed at an emergency.
Like many things with the LOSAP point system, having proper controls is critical. In this case, allowing one-person drills seems to present an opportunity for abuse. So if a one-person drill is to be allowed, I suggested that the drill be supervised in some way, by an officer of the department being at the firehouse while the person is drilling. That seems to be a reasonable requirement.
The other thing to consider is if the term drill is defined elsewhere in NY State law. A quick search finds that under VFBL, coverage is provided "While, within this country or in Canada and pursuant to orders or authorization, attending or participating in any drill, parade, funeral, inspection or review in which his fire department, fire company, or any unit thereof, is engaged, including necessary travel directly connected therewith, as well as necessary travel to and necessary travel from such activity."
I take two things away from this section of statute. One, the statute seems to imply that a drill is something that the fire department, fire company or a unit thereof, is engaged. This makes it more difficult to support the idea of a one-person drill. But second, the statute says "pursuant to orders or authorization". Therefore, in order to be covered by VFBL, the drill must be authorized. This would then lead me to believe it is reasonable that all drills, including a one-person drill, must be approved in advance.
With all of this said, I can't conclude definitively that a one-person drill, provided it lasts at least two hours, would be ineligible for a drill point for LOSAP (or, to put it in a positive way, it seems possible a firefighter who participates in a one-person drill that lasts two hours can earn a drill point). But, I would urge caution when allowing them, and make sure there is supervision and that they are approved in advance.
If your fire department is allowing one-person drills, you should review this with your attorney before awarding the drill point.
Sharing my thoughts and insights on LOSAP, and occasionally other topics.