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How Does Hazmat Training Make the Fire Service Safer and More Effective?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Emergency calls to a residence, retail store, or a commercial building could result in a situation with hazardous materials. Stored fuels, toxic chemicals, and public use of explosives can be a disaster waiting to happen anywhere, at any time. With the potential for the unknown, every firefighter should have hazmat technician training.

What Is Meant by Hazmat?

Hazmat is the acronym for hazardous materials. Various governing bodies across the globe use the term for varying toxins, chemicals, fuels, nuclear waste products, and agents (biological, chemical, radiological) to describe hazardous materials. Any substance that poses a potential risk to the environment, property, and the safety and health of living creatures, especially humans is categorized as a hazmat.

What Is NFPA 472?

NFPA 472, now referred to as NFPA 1072 training and certification, is the core program that deals with emergency response to hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction. The program covers safety, assessment, proper notification procedures, use of the Emergency Response Guidebook, and mandate of the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre.

What Is the Difference Between NFPA 472 And NFPA 1072? 

In 2019, the training program known as NFPA 472 transitioned to NFPA 1072. Those with the NFPA 472 certification do not need to update to the “new” training level as the NFPA 472 remains valid as a prerequisite for all future NFPA programs.

How Many Different Levels of Hazardous Materials Response Are There?

There are four principle response levels for any hazardous material emergency. Each level holds definite guidelines and training specifications.

Awareness Level involves discovery of said situation, securing the area for safety, recognizing the type of materials involved, and alerting the proper authorities for response. The personnel may be security guards, administration members, police, and fire personnel.

Operations Level response sees the emergency response team of firefighters notified of the situation. Depending on their experience, they may begin the defensive response to the hazmat incident or be directed to secure and evaluate for the responding technicians.

Technician Level response has certified hazmat technicians take control of the situation by initiating the phases of stopping the exposure of the involved material.  

Specialist Level engages the use of a highly trained hazardous materials response team for situations involving specific hazardous materials, including those listed as weapons of mass destruction.

The Importance of Hazmat Training

Being prepared for hazardous materials emergency response is key for firefighters, medical response teams, police, military, and other emergency responders. Years ago, this type of training was limited to select firefighters and military personnel. Today, the risk for hazmat scenarios is high across the country with the development, transportation, and use of hazardous materials.

A hazmat situation can occur at the local grocery store or gas station, gardening centres, and even office buildings. While these locations tend to use hazardous materials that are known to the local emergency responders, including the fire department, what is stored on someone’s private property can be an unknown hazard. Comprehensive training and knowledge with the management of potential situations is crucial to every fire department and emergency responders.

Mandatory Certifications for Firefighters in Rescue Operations

The Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) offers certified programs and courses to new and existing firefighters and emergency responders. The hazmat training programs prepare candidates for assessing, handling, and managing of hazardous materials and the situations that occur.

Hazardous Materials Officer Program

For those in positions of Hazardous Materials Group Supervisor and Hazardous Materials Assistant Safety Officer, this training program focuses on the knowledge and skills within these fields. The organizational team of the Entry Team Leader, the Decon Team Leader, the Site Access Control Team Leader, and the Safe Refuge Area Manager and their roles are part of the course.

Hazmat Scene Management

In a hazardous material emergency, it is crucial for responders to know how to assess and take control over the management of the situation. The Hazmat Scene Management training program provides knowledge for risk control and actions within safety and legal requirements. Firefighters, military and government personnel, and other emergency responders will have case studies, activities, and exercises to learn appropriate decision-making.

CBRNE Hazardous Material Awareness 

As the only accredited program in North America for those working in and around chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive environments, the CBRNE Hazardous Material Awareness training meets the internationally recognized standards of NFPA 1072. Security personnel and first responders will learn how to identify suspicious packages and hazardous materials and the appropriate steps to initiate the safety of the environment and people nearby.

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Awareness

As part of the NFPA 1072 awareness training, this course readies candidates for being first-on-the-scene of a hazardous materials incident. You will learn how to recognize potential problems and what action is needed to protect yourself and other involved parties. This course teaches how to collect hazard information and commence appropriate actions. 

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Operations

It is imperative that every first responder understands the sequence of events that lead to a hazardous material operation and the safe and legal techniques to use in such a situation. The NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Operations training involves learning about PPE, how to assess an incident, and identify involved materials. You will learn about decontamination and provide incident and product control within the situation.

NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Technician

Successful completion of the NFPA 1072 Hazardous Materials Technician course prepares candidates with the theory and practical experience of protection of property, the environment, and people. You will have the information to respond efficiently to incident command, acts of terrorism, post-operation activities, and be knowledgeable in legislation and media capabilities.

Be prepared for any emergency response by contacting FESTI today! Our certified instructors and team offer these and other courses at our active firefighting training grounds at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Register for a course or program by clicking here and complete the webpage registration. Or for more information about FESTI, contact us today.