Industrial fire brigades provide the first line of defense against fires at nuclear power plants, coal plants and many other industrial sites with industrial-sized hazards. Members of these firefighting forces at one of Nebraska’s nuclear power plants and coal-fuel power plant are shown in Industrial Fire Brigades, a multimedia training series by Action Training Systems. This firefighter training series teaches to the requirements of NFPA 1081, a national professional standard for industrial fire brigade members.
Given the current backdrop of global concern for nuclear power safety, training for the personnel that fight fires behind the gates of the nation’s nuclear power plants is paramount. Industrial fire brigade training gives these on-site workers the ability to prevent or safely extinguish the flames before they become disasters that affect their communities.
As Fire/Safety Lead of the Nebraska Public Power District, John Shrader is in charge of training the industrial fire brigades at Cooper Nuclear Station in Brownville, Neb., and Gerald Gentleman Station, a coal plant in North Platte, among others. He attributes much of the plants' successful track record to the training of his industrial fire brigades.
"We use the training to impress upon our fire brigade members, especially in the initial training, how quickly a small event can turn into a large event, and how prevention can really pay off down the road," he said. One challenge for Shrader and other instructors training industrial fire brigades has been that good classroom materials designed specifically for the needs of industrial fire brigade members haven't been widely available. "There's a host of manuals and other materials for municipal firefighters out there," said Shrader, "but industrial firefighting is very specialized."
Cooper maintains extensive training fields and a Learning Center equipped with a simulator. In the Learning Center, instructors can take control room crews through realistic training of an accidental plant shutdown. "They initiate simulated actions to the point where they break the plant. Then they take a break and when they come back they're at full power. With a fire, it's much harder to do that in the training room." With a new 23-part multimedia training series designed for training industrial fire brigades by Action Training Systems, that has changed. Showing fires and fire control by real fire brigade members is Industrial Fire Brigades: Incipient Level and Industrial Fire Brigades: Exterior & Structural. Shrader appreciates the quality of the content because his crews provided many of the demonstrations, which were shot on location at Cooper Nuclear Station and Gerald Gentleman station in 2009 and 2010. Industrial fire brigades at sites across the United States and Canada participated in the development of the series.
"The training is as close to reality as you can get it, but at the same time, it always emphasizes the safety aspects of the response – how to respond to dangerous situations," said Shrader.
Instructors can now run students through the training on DVD or computer-based training in a classroom environment before students begin hands on training. "Each video starts at the basic level, but as the video progresses the level of knowledge progresses as well," said Shrader. The programs teach specifically to the skill and knowledge requirements of NFPA 1081, Standard for Industrial Fire Brigade Member Professional Qualifications. The first series of 12 programs helps train industrial fire brigade members to the incipient level, providing the capability to extinguish small fires while wearing normal work clothing.