National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Live Fire Training

Although fires in burn buildings at training facilities serve an important function, sometimes the training is marginalized because of familiarity with the building and knowledge of where the burn pan is located. Live fire training in acquired structures is beneficial to departments because of the dynamic challenges that it poses to firefighters. Live burning in acquired structures allows for departments to deviate from the "routine training burn" and offer new and unique challenges that cannot be produced in a training building. The development and implementation of a sound National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1403 burn plan is essential in providing a safe training environment for firefighters. In a burn plan, parameters must be set for each operational period with objectives clearly stated and understood by all participants. This week's firefighter near-miss report details the adverse and dangerous outcomes that can happen without a coordinated NFPA 1403 burn plan.

"While overhauling a room in a live burn at an acquired structure, a firefighter in the attic displaced part of the ceiling causing the collapse of the ceiling onto a fire suppression crew below. One firefighter sustained minor injuries to the shoulder and a second was uninjured when the ceiling fell. Both were struck with debris. Proper communication between levels could have prevented the incident from occurring. While the injuries were minor, they could have been worse depending on the location of the firefighters in relationship to the collapse."

Taking extra time to communicate objectives and goals, as they relate to the training, can make all the difference when it comes to live fire training. Using a NFPA 1403 burn plan with pre and post briefings will help establish a "best practices" approach toward training in acquired structures. This report illustrates that the lack of a good communication plan with clear and deliberate objectives jeopardized the safety of personnel. Once you have read the entire account (http://bit.ly/zdN9i5),  consider the following:

  1. Does your department have a policy regarding live fire training in acquired structures?
  2. Does your department work with the city legal department to determine acceptable liability limits when training in an acquired structure?
  3. When training at an acquired structure, do you have a safety officer that does a preplan to identify potential exposure hazards, such as asbestos?
  4. When was the last time you and your crew reviewed NFPA 1403, prior to engaging a training evolution in an acquired structure?

Training in acquired structures is a luxury that departments can take full advantage of, as long as they follow a detailed NFPA 1403 burn plan. Unfortunately, without a plan, we unnecessarily put our firefighters at risk, without fully realizing the risk that is associated with training of this nature.

Have you avoided a near-miss because of proper planning and developing a NFPA 1403 burn plan? Submit your report to www.firefighternearmiss.com today to pass on your experience. For more on the value of firefighter near-miss reporting, CLICK HERE.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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