Are your firefighters taking their annual OSHA/PESH training, and if not, who do you think is going to answer for the lack of training if something unfortunate happens to one of your members? You, the Board of Fire Commissioners.
The pertinent OSHA/PESH requirements which require annual refresher training are those designed to maintain proficient firefighter knowledge, skills and abilities in according to 29 CFR (Code of Federal Regulation) 1910.156(c)(2) and increase overall firefighter safety in accordance with other applicable OSHA/PESH standards.
What is PESH? PESH is the Public Employee Safety and Health division of the NYS Department of Labor. The Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau (PESH), created in 1980, enforces safety and health standards promulgated under the United States Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and several state standards. Public sector employers include:
- Village governments
- Public Authorities
- School Districts
- Paid and Volunteer Fire Departments
The Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau responds to:
- Deaths related to occupational safety and health
- Accidents that send two or more public employees to the hospital
- Complaints from public employees or their representatives
The Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau also:
- Inspects public employer work sites
- Gives technical assistance during statewide emergencies
The OSHA/PESH required annual training for all fire departments both career and volunteer is conducted so that all members can demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in the topics required. Those topics include; Hazardous Materials/Emergency Response, Respiratory Protection, Blood Borne Pathogen, Right to Know, Workplace Violence and Fire Extinguishers (if required to use them) which most firefighters are required to do at some point of their career.
In addition to the above required training, OSHA/PESH Standard 29 CFR 1910.156(c)(2) requires that Fire Department Training Programs be designed to address annually the proficiency of each member’s knowledge and abilities as it relates to that member’s expected assignment. Such assignments may include Exterior Firefighter, Interior Firefighter, Apparatus Operator, Fire Officer/Incident Commander and Fire Training Officer. The annual refresher training should be comprised of current content and of sufficient duration so that each member can demonstrate knowledge and abilities in their assigned duties. It is important to maintain documentation of all training conducted to comply with these requirements While no specific time is allotted to the annual training or specific topics, this clarification is not intended to shorten the previously established timeframe, but to provide you with the flexibility to adjust the length of time spent on specific topics that your department feels are more or less necessary.
The OFPC Best Practices for Fire Department Training Programs document outlines subject matter that can be considered for annual refresher training for each member’s expected assignment. Fire Departments must document each member’s annual proficiency training to maintain knowledge, skills and ability proficiencies as related to that member’s expected assignment. This annual refresher requirement does not take into account special operations or activities that would exceed the requirements for this refresher training and should be considered separately based on the needs of the firefighters assigned to those activities.
Suggestions: In addition to subject area topics discussed in a firefighter’s initial training, additional topics for annual refresher training may include those listed below. It is also important to maintain an awareness of current fire service trends and advancements as they relate to your Fire Department and response area.
Some suggested topics may include:
- Hazard Recognition
- Fire Station Safety,
- Response Safety,
- Fire Scene Safety,
- Protective Clothing,
- SCBA Use,
- Tools and Equipment.
Summary: The overriding consideration when determining the appropriateness of fire service training intended to address annual firefighter refresher training is:
- Does the training relate to the expected duties and assignments of the firefighter;
- Does it provide a means to refresh or evaluate competencies the firefighter is expected to perform; and
- Does the training increase the level of safety for the firefighter.