Volume 1, Issue 4 of IAFC Lead Educate Serve Propane Emergencies
As we continue to build on our monthly articles pertaining to propane incident response, we wanted to place the focus on understanding the basic certifications that will be provided by this new propane emergency response program.
There is currently confusion and misunderstanding on this topic. The program that is being developed will allow attendees to acquire certifications for propane awareness, propane operations and propane specialist. Intended certification levels mirror those which are used in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 29 CFR § 1910.120 and within the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 470 document. By ensuring that both NFPA and OSHA standards are addressed in this new program we have been able to design a program that can be utilized by both the fire service and propane industry.
OSHA has identified hazardous materials specialists as individuals who respond with and provide support to hazardous materials technicians. Their duties parallel those of the hazardous materials technicians; however, those duties require a more directed or specific knowledge of the various substances they may be called upon to contain.
NFPA 470 has defined the term, “specialist” in the same way that OSHA has defined it. The hazardous materials specialist would also function as the site liaison with federal, state, local and other government authorities in regard to site activities.
In this case it is important to remember that OSHA identifies that there is a clear difference between an employee and a response specialist. An employee is someone who may be required to assist in a hazardous materials response incident. A response specialist is a person that has advanced knowledge of the hazards that are associated with a specific response area or is versed in the tasks that are required to mitigate a situation and works with the hazardous materials technicians. NFPA 470 Chapter 14 outlines the training competencies that are required for specialist employees that is in line with OSHA 29 CFR § 1910.120 requirements.
With that explained, it is important that the aspect of operations mission-specific training be clarified. The idea behind this is that there are some responders who are trained to the operations level that may have more specific duties and responsibilities within their response area. This means that they may need more advanced training to address some hazards and or threats.
Operations level mission-specific training provides for developing competencies and professional qualifications for operations level responders who are assigned mission-specific responsibilities at hazardous materials/WMD incidents which are beyond the competencies acquired at the operations level. In NFPA 470 the operations mission-specific content is contained in Chapters 8 and 9.
As an example, if a department does not have to manage marine responses due to not having any water within their response district, they would not train on that topic. With that said, there are still basic core areas of operations that all personnel are required to receive training on, and these training competencies and professional qualifications criteria are contained in NFPA 470, Chapters 6 and 7.
It is important for all responders to understand the changes that have occurred that pertain to NFPA 470 and be well versed in the OSHA requirements as this will help to ensure that no issues arise pertaining to specific training requirements for your job.