Brigade Professional Qualifications
Vol 21 No 2
Many of you who are Company Officers or are in a position of responsibility concerning your Industrial Fire Brigade, often won-der if their training is meeting any recognizable standard. Perhaps your organization is considering an investment in training to a professional standard such as NFPA 1081. This multi-part article will discuss how you can make better decisions concerning training. It will discuss the notion of professional training qualifications and what NFPA means to you. We begin this month with discussing the Accrediting Bodies.
Before we begin to discuss the NFPA 1081 standard and professional training, it is important to understand that where and whom you choose to do your training may become important. Is the organization accredited? Knowing what this means can make an impact on where you want to invest your training dollars.
The Accrediting Bodies-Background
In 1971 the National Professional Qualifications Board was formed by the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) selected as the secretariat of the Board.
The board was convened to administer a consistent system of oversight of its respective members by providing accreditation to ensure compliance with professional qualifications standards and accountability. As with most fire service efforts, several years of growing pains and politics amongst the members that made up the board, eventually took its toll. In 1989, the members of the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations voted to disband the National Professional Qualifications Board.
In the summer of 1990, a new Joint Committee was created comprised of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Society of Fire Service Instructors, International Association of Arson Investigators, the National Volunteer Fire Council and the National Fire Protection Association.
The instability within the ProBoard had raised significant concern as to the viability and sustainability of a universal accreditation program. To that end the North American State Directors of Training and Education (later to become known as the North American Fire Training Directors Association) met in St Louis, Mo., in July of 1990 and passed a motion to form a new accreditation body that became the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC).
IFSAC is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of state and provincial fire training schools with the intent of ensuring that training and certification within member jurisdictions meet NFPA standards. At present there is no significant representation from the Industrial Fire Service Community.
IFSAC is divided into two Assemblies; the Certificate Assembly and the Degree Assembly. There are currently 58 state and provincial entities representing fire training accreditation within the Certificate Assembly. There are 27 entities that are members of the Degree Assembly that provides accreditation to programs that are within the realm of higher education. A number of these entities are community colleges that conduct accredited courses and programs as delegated authorities through the primary entity within their jurisdiction.
The ProBoard is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of various fire service organizations. At the present time there is no representation from the Industrial Fire Service Community.
A number of states and provinces are members of the ProBoard system. Mindful of the need to ensure sustainability of the accreditation process, many states and provinces are now subscribers to both accreditation bodies.
The current membership of ProBoard stands at 42 members. This is comprised of 24 state and provincial fire training entities and 18 other agencies that have been accepted to provide accreditations either within their respective jurisdictions or to programs offered through their association.
A Matter of Choice
Some of you are probably asking "which accreditation is best?" The long and short of it is that really doesn't matter. Some organizations choose to subscribe to booth and students are provided both an IFSAC and a ProBoard certificate. The primary responsibility of both accreditation bodies is to ensure that certification and credentialing is in accordance with the standards that have been identified as relevant and appropriate by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Both accreditation bodies strive to ensure that training and certification conducted by member entities is within rigid guidelines. All member entities consider accreditation the holy grail, and do their part to ensure they meet and exceed the guidelines. The accreditation bodies ensure that the training provided to students participating in fire-related courses is done consistently and ethically. As identified earlier, the only issue of potential significance is that none of the accrediting bodies at present have any representation from the Industrial Firefighting Community. In order to meet the needs of the Industrial Fire Service, future additions to the boards of these two credentialing agencies would be beneficial in aiding more Industrial organizations to move towards adoption of NFPA 1081.
In part II - we will discuss the NFPA 1081 standard in more detail.
Until next time, remember work SMARTER not HARDER!
Comments? Questions? Is there an Industrial Fire Training topic you would like to see covered in this column? Please email me at email@example.com
Attila Hertelendy is an instructor with the University of Nevada, Reno - Fire Science Academy and President and CEO of Great White Emergency Medical Solutions, Inc. a training and emergency response planning company. Come visit us at the IFW Conference at booths 413 and 414.