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3 Posts authored by: cgrant Employee

Lately there has been discussion about the topic of recertification in the fire service in some industry publications, and there seems to be some confusion or misperceptions about our recent activity. Here is the history and the current status.

 

In the summer of 2016, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Research Foundation), the independent research affiliate of NFPA, received a request to conduct a study on fire services professional qualifications and recertification requirements. The proposal asked for a review of the existing processes that are in place for emergency personnel to demonstrate their level of competency against a certain credentialing benchmark. It also requested recommendations for implementing and enforcing a proficiency system on a local, state, and national level.

 

The Research Foundation undertook this project in 2018. This overall effort entailed two deliverables: (1) The research report which has been available online since September 2019, and (2) the workshop proceedings which have now been finalized and are available on the Research Foundation’s website.


The research project


The contractor for this project was FireTox, LLC. They were selected through the Research Foundation’s open RFP process in accordance with our policies, and were chosen to conduct the research with a goal of identifying, comprehending, and reviewing the current fire service training and certification climate. As part of the project, approaches used by parallel professions (EMS, law enforcement, nurses, and teachers) were assessed and a continuing education model was developed. Fire service members were then surveyed to determine how implementation of that model would impact them and their organization.


Findings foster workshop discussions

 

The new research report was used to facilitate conversation between interested stakeholders and fire service representatives at an October workshop at NFPA headquarters.

 

The following was considered during the workshop:

 

  • The evolution, status and anticipated direction of the ProQual system and JPR development
  • Current practices for maintaining fire and emergency personnel skill proficiency in North America
  • Clarification of the relevancy and applicability of the processes adopted in parallel professions
  • Identification, prioritization, and assessment of processes that could be implemented for fire and emergency services personnel
  • The creation of a recommended action plan to provide guidance to the ProQual infrastructure to meet the needs for today and the future

 

The goal was not to reach consensus on any of the issues that were discussed. Instead, the objective was to gather threshold information that can be used as guidance.

 

This project and workshop did not, and could not, change any information in any NFPA standard. Changes can only be made to NFPA documents through the Standards Development process.

Columbus Workshop - Campaign for Fire Service Contamination

This past week in Columbus, OH a milestone workshop was held that is destined to have long-term influence on the fire service of today and tomorrow. This was the Workshop for the “Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control”, which is a one year research project administered by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. The workshop also included additional focus on two other related Foundation research projects: “Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study” and “PPE Cleaning Validation”.  

 

Why is this a big deal? Within the fire service, not using SCBA and wearing soiled PPE have long been considered badges of toughness and bravery. But for a growing number of fire service members, this perception has been deadly. Fire fighters who for years didn’t regularly wear SCBA or clean their personal protective equipment (PPE) after returning from fire fighting incidents have developed various forms of cancer and other long-term illnesses. This includes young fire fighters with far fewer years of contaminant exposure, as well as perceived clustering of rare forms of cancer.
 
The Columbus Workshop brought together approximately 60 people from diverse stakeholder groups. There were representatives from all parts of the fire service, researchers, regulators, health and safety officers, Independent Service Providers (ISPs), equipment providers, among others. This is an important issue, and there is a growing interest across the fire service to help positively move the needle.
 
The Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control is focused on instilling contamination control as an A to Z concept, similar to other sectors that already rigorously address contamination control (e.g., health care, military, nuclear power, etc.). This should not be something that is only an afterthought from the fire ground. The specific goal of the workshop was to inform the design of a proposed on-line, interactive, information clearinghouse, and to address the related tools that are being developed to assist the fire service in limiting the spread of harmful fire ground contaminants, with the ultimate goal of improving fire fighter long-term health.  

 

The workshop focused on optimum best practices, design of fire stations and equipment, applicable codes and standards, targeted literature database for researchers, and similar topics. For example, one presentation addressed the issue of fire station design and how it serves a pivotal role in contamination control and health and wellness of fire fighters. Fire fighters spend extensive time in stations that significantly magnifies their exposures. Presently, NFPA standards have minimal information on fire station design to reduce or eliminate exposure to contaminants.  

 

The Columbus Workshop was a whirlwind of rich information, progressive activity, and dedicated passion. In late summer, the Proceedings from the Workshop will be made available and posted at the Foundation’s web page at: www.nfpa.org/Contamination. This effort was encouraging and we are making progress, but the challenges remain enormous and in truth the work is just beginning.

Casey Grant - NFPA Responder Forum Keynote

I had the pleasure of speaking at the NFPA Responder Forum in Charlotte, NC yesterday. The Forum brought together representatives from 13 key fire organizations, subject matter experts, community leaders, and NFPA staff to address emerging issues.

 

My keynote presentation, titled "The Fire Fighter of the Future," was a one-hour presentation on smart fire fighting. I discussed the loss of civilian and first responder lives, property and economic stability and how it can be significantly reduced by exploiting new smart fire fighting opportunities. New technology, including cyber-physical systems, innovative building controls, intuitive fire-fighting equipment, and smart apparatus are revolutionizing emergency response. There is much to learn about collecting data from global sensors, processing the information centrally and utilizing the results locally. Smart fire fighting can help save lives and decrease injuries, improve fire fighter occupational health and safety, and enhance operational, fire prevention and protection efficiency.

 

My keynote was live-streamed during the event for all who pre-registered, and now the full video is available for free for users of Xchange. The following is a video preview:

 

 

You can watch the full hour long video for free if you are logged into Xchange.

 

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