I’m working with a local college’s Conferences & Training department to edit a series of documents for the state agency Cal Fire. Each set of job certification standards that an employee or volunteer in the fire service can train for has to be updated every so many years, and it happens that in this round of updates, State Fire Training wants to refresh its standards and corresponding courses to better align with the National Fire Protection Association standards, for easier portability of professional qualifications across state lines.
So who better to call in for that task but a team of editors?
With a style guide 460 pages long aside my work station, I am plugging JPRs (job performance requirements) and RKSs (requisite knowledge and skills) into the various templates, along with anything else the OSFM (Office of the State Fire Marshal) wants to add, but not so much as to “bloat the standard.” I work on my own for a while and then take notes at meetings with people from around the state who represent fire academies, community colleges, rural and urban fire departments, volunteers, unions, and industry. One of the members on my cadre consults for LucasFilms.
As in many of my other editing gigs, with Cal Fire I am getting an insider’s account of a subject I previously understood only by several degrees of separation. And as with my other nonfiction work, I’m learning all sorts of fancy words I can throw around. But what’s different is that I get to sit down with the people who create, and ultimately will be end users of, the documents I’m editing. So when the acronyms and jargon get to be too much, I’m actually able to say, out loud: What does that even mean?! and get an answer in real time. Which is gratifying.
And with the interaction, interesting war stories come up, as well as inside jokes and satire. The following videos, which cadre members shared with me during our meeting breaks last week, are the equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” for fire fighters.