Product-Based Training Essential

By Dan DiRenzo

At the end of every year and beginning of a new year, there are always equipment purchases completed. Whether it is to deplete the remaining money prior to a year’s end or make a purchase from a new budget year, equipment purchases are rapid. Some purchasing decisions are based on a department’s current needs, whereas some are made because there is money left to spend. With equipment purchases, there must be a level of training associated with them prior to being placed in service. Departments must establish levels of proficiency and efficiency if they are looking to get the maximum performance to complete the objective. Equipment is often purchased and placed in service without adequate training to go along. All members must be educated on the proper operational procedures of all equipment carried in their cache—especially newly purchased equipment.

Training Levels
The type of equipment purchased leads to the type of training required. Training can come in various formats, levels, and delivery methods. Some equipment training is delivered by a manufacturer or dealer representative. These types of training may also come with training packages for departments to use to train their own members. There are pieces of equipment, especially equipment that deals with personal protective equipment (PPE), that mandates training be delivered prior to the issuance or use.

Some manufacturers may not mandate training be delivered prior to use but recommend it. This type of training can be obtained through authorized training agencies approved by manufacturers to deliver sanctioned training on their products. Authorized manufacturer training agencies are usually trained by the manufacturer on the proper use and applications of their products so they can serve as an extension of the manufacturer.

Manufacturers place mandates and training recommendations on products for liability protection and to protect the user. However, every piece of equipment purchased will not require a department to deliver a full training program. Some equipment training can be delivered by department members that have prior experience using a type of equipment. It can be delivered during company training or just an equipment review session. Many departments create training bulletins to be disseminated through the department advising members of the new equipment as well as to highlight critical operational concerns. This method allows members to familiarize themselves with the equipment at their convenience. Don’t think product-based training has to be intensive or in-depth. Depending on the piece of equipment, it could be as simple as putting it to use during a training event.

Always Review
All equipment will require some type of review or training regardless of its intended use. Although not all equipment requires product-based training, there are some pieces at the top of the priority list.

Personal escape systems, for example, have become a leading product requiring, mandating, and recommending authorized training for the user. This training is delivered to provide the manufacturer as well as the respective department with liability protection, documenting that the user was properly trained on the deployment and use of the personal escape system. The fire department personal harness is becoming widely used across the fire service now and added to firefighters’ PPE. Without providing the user with training on the many uses of these harnesses leaves the user in the dark on how versatile the harness can be for civilian rescue, firefighter rescue or ultimately self rescue.

As weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) incidents continue to rise, fire departments have been increasing their air monitoring capabilities. These meters require a background education on their use, operational modes, and detection abilities.

Switching gears to rescue operations, we have seen a change in hydraulic equipment as well as specialized equipment being implemented in our daily operations, including cutting torches, stabilization struts, and rigging equipment. This equipment, if improperly used, can cause further danger to not just the patient but also the fire service user.

It’s not only new equipment technology that requires product-based training. Let’s not forget our essential fire service equipment such as nozzles, saws, hand tools, search ropes, and so on. These are the fundamental tools that enable us to provide service on a daily basis. They too require product-based training.

Product-based training should be taken into consideration during any purchase. If the training is factored in from the beginning, it will make budgeting for the added cost that much easier. The level of training varies on the product purchased. Documented training on products purchased prior to being placed in service can pay off in the long run.

DANIEL DIRENZO is a lieutenant with the Cherry Hill (NJ) Fire Department, assigned to the Field Command Office. He is also a lieutenant/department training officer with the Bellmawr (NJ) Fire Department and a rescue specialist with New Jersey USAR Task Force 1. He is the managing member of Safety & Survival Training, LLC. He has been featured in Fire Engineering’s “Training Minutes” on personal harness use on fireengineering.com.

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