The fire department and fire training officer's responsibilities are, first, to ensure safety and, second, to accomplish education and skill objectives. Training is one of the highest priorities of the Boiling Springs Fire Department.
The Training Officer responsibilities include being aware of and following the most recent training standards and guidelines, such as National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, providing a safe training environment, eliminating all potential training hazards, and adhering to current training requirements. In addition, it is the training officer's responsibility to make students aware of the lessons learned from other training sessions in which there were fatalities or injuries.
The training officer should review trade journals and analytical reports, such as those published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to be fully aware of the training fatalities and injuries occurring nationally.
Training is a vital part of fire department operations. Its importance is even greater when you consider the mission of the fire department and the inherent dangers of a firefighter's job. Firefighting and first-response fatalities average 100 each year, with more than 83,000 injuries occurring annually. Training is designed to prevent these deaths and injuries; but, unfortunately, improper and unsafe training also results in firefighter deaths and injuries.
Training fatalities average about 10 percent of line-of-duty deaths per year and more than 7,000 injuries. The deaths occurred during a broad range of activities, including apparatus and equipment drills, physical fitness activities, live-fire training, underwater/dive training, and classes or seminars. Many of the injuries sustained during training ended the firefighters' career.
The NFPA has published the primary training guidelines for training officers and departments. As examples, NFPA 1403, Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions (2007 edition), explains how to plan a safe live-burn evolution; NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments (2007 edition), addresses issues that affect firefighters' health and safety; NFPA 1002, Standard on Fire Apparatus Driver Operator Professional Qualifications, addresses issues that have been implicated in fatalities and injuries that result from driving apparatus or personal vehicles to and from incidents; and NFPA 1670, Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Rescue Incidents, 2009 edition, and NFPA 1006, Standard for Technical Rescuer Professional Qualifications, 2008 edition, provide those resources for safe training in dive rescue or technical rescue events.
The primary responsibility of the training officer is to create a safe training environment. If a training accident should occur, the training officer or the department's chief officers, including the fire chief, shall investigate and document those incidents and use them as learning tools to help avoid similar incidents in the future. Local, state, and federal agencies also may investigate incidents involving a fatality or severe injury. Often, these investigation results and documentations produced during the investigation are used during the litigation process and may be a factor in prosecuting or defending the department or training personnel.