Article Archive
Action Training
Agrium Fire Chief envisioned innovative Action Training Series
Vol. 26 Fall 2011

A fire chief building a state-of-the-art training system for Agrium’s industrial firefighters at fertilizer plants in Canada answered the need for specialized multimedia training tools by proposing and then assisting in creating Industrial Fire Brigades, a new series by Action Training Systems. The series teaches to NFPA 1081, a national professional standard for industrial firefighters.


Responding to fires at a chemical plant that produces ammonia by the ton is not the same as responding to a house fire. Yet for many years, industrial firefighters at chemical plants, as well as at large petroleum plants, trained with materials that were really designed for municipal firefighters. Commercial training materials designed for their specialized needs just weren’t available.

No one was more aware of this than Agrium’s  (NYSE:AGU) Bruce Dziwenka in 2007, when he was building the training system for 150 industrial fire brigade members at two fertilizer plants in Alberta, Canada. Dziwenka was the Emergency Response Advisor for the Redwater and Fort Saskatchewan operations of Agrium Inc., a leading global supplier of fertilizers and other agricultural products. Like many industrial sites, Agrium’s plants store and use bulk quantities of flammable, combustible and hazardous materials. The plants’ primary product is anhydrous ammonia, hundreds of thousands of tons of it. The processes at Agrium’s plants also involve large quantities of acids, such as phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid.

If there is a fire, leak or spill, rapid on-site response by industrial fire brigade members can contain the emergency immediately, preventing incidents from escalating into emergencies that can endanger site workers, communities and the environment. 

When Dziwenka couldn’t find the student and instructor training materials he needed, he contacted George Avila, the president and CEO of Action Training Systems Inc., to ask if Avila had plans to make training materials for the industrial response sector. Action Training Systems is well known for making the Essentials of Fire Fighting, the leading multimedia series for training municipal firefighters. Dziwenka was already familiar with the company’s HAZMAT response training series. 

A year later, with Dziwenka on board as a technical adviser for the industrial firefighter training project, Avila and Action Training Systems launched content development for Industrial Fire Brigades, a new 23-part multimedia training series that teaches to the skill and knowledge requirements of NFPA 1081, Standard for Industrial Fire Brigade Member Professional Qualifications.

In addition to providing technical advice for content development, Dziwenka opened the gates for Action Training Systems to shoot industrial fire brigade training and equipment for emergency response at his industrial sites.

Finally, with the participation of many more industrial fire brigades across North America, the 23-part multimedia training series is on the market and is meeting the need for NFPA standard-based multimedia for many industrial fire trainers around the globe. “The series has ended up being exactly what I had envisioned,” says Dziwenka.

Industrial Fire Brigades: Incipient Level, the first series of 12 programs, helps train industrial fire brigade members to the incipient level, providing the basics of emergency incident management and the capability to extinguish small industrial fires while wearing normal work clothing.

Industrial Fire Brigades: Exterior & Structural has 11 programs teaching to the advanced exterior and interior-structural levels of NFPA 1081. This series provides step-by-step demonstrations in such training titles as SCBA, Access & Forcible Entry, Ladders, Industrial Water Supply, Foam Operations, Industrial Fire Control and Tank Hazard Control.

Other training systems include municipal firefighter training, EMS, HAZMAT, Fire Service Rescue, The Essentials of Fire Fighting and more. For more information, visit


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