Topic: Emergency Response

Five reasons why high-stakes education has a role in safety

High-stakes education refers to learning and development that results in attaining a credential.  This credential may come in many forms, including: Traditional degrees and certificates from a higher education or professional institute (i.e., Masters, PHD, or Professional Certificate Programs, etc.) Professional licenses or qualifications that allow holders to perform specific tasks and/or roles (i.e., driver license, licensed electrician, or qualified electrical worker, etc.) Contemporary micro-credentials that signify an educational or performance achievement (i.e., digital badges that can be found on BADGR or Credly and shared online) Internal or external professional certification programs and designations with qualification requirements, rigorous examination, and continuing education and renewal requirements (i.e., NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialists, Scrum masters, Society of HR Management or Project Management Institute Certifications, etc.) Credentials can be used to prequalify candidates for jobs, projects, and promotions; bolster a company’s qualification for bidding on client projects; and in marketing campaigns to prove the company’s commitment to quality.  Regulators and employers have also used credentials to set the baseline for competency to improve performance and safety. High-stakes education and credentials help ensure that facilities, fire protection and life safety systems, and work safety programs are well designed, managed, and maintained.  This in turn keeps productivity disruption- and incident-free; lives and property safe; and operator and employer reputations free of citations, fines, and bad press. Here are five more reasons why high-stakes education are helpful within the NFPA Fire and Life safety Ecosystem™: Vigilance: Vigilance is the opposite of complacency, and complacency is the enemy of a safety culture. As workplaces and communities evolve, companies must be vigilant in their pursuit of best practices and emerging codes and standards related to safety. Training aligned with certifications developed by subject matter experts that require continuing education help to ensure that their people are getting the right training to pass a rigorous certification exam and maintaining that high bar through continuous professional development. Investing in people: The retirement of the baby boomer generation and the great resignation from the workforce have left many organizations with deep experience gaps. However, organizations can make up for some of this gap by investing in high-stakes education to consistently set and raise the baseline of knowledge and skills for less experienced professionals. An investment in high-stakes education is also an investment in the workforce, which leads to higher employee engagement, loyalty, and quality of their work. When organizations and individuals spend time and energy on high-stakes education, they become more invested in its outcome. There is a direct correlation between pride and performance for having achieved a credential through high-stakes education. Raising the bar: Employers do not want to suffer financially and reputationally for avoidable incidents. Clients do not want disruptions or rework caused by failed inspections. Code enforcers do not want to waste limited resources and time reviewing recurring non-compliant designs and installations. Credentials earned through high-stakes education and certification help skilled professionals to stand out among their competition and provide peace of mind to key stakeholders. Companies investing in high-stakes education for their workforce are signaling to internal and external stakeholders that safety is part of their brand promise and that they intend to get the work done right the first time. Compliance: Regulators demand formal training as part of safety programs. High-stakes education signals to regulators that the organization is serious about its compliance with regulatory requirements. While organizations should always complement external programs with internal education on policies and procedures, externally managed credential and high-stakes education help to alleviate internal resources for program development, maintenance, and management. Safety culture – Credentials that have regular recertification or renewal periods and continuing education requirements help to keep workforce knowledge and skills relevant. Professionals who maintain their credentials are keeping up with emerging issues, changes in codes and standards, and the latest best practices in their respective fields. These requirements promote ongoing learning and curiosity as part of an effective safety culture in today’s disruptive environment. Competent and skilled professionals are critical for any business providing services or operating with fire, life, and electrical hazards. By incorporating high-stakes education into the workforce safety curriculum, an organization is investing in its people, results, and future. Find out more on how NFPA training and certifications can deliver high-stakes education to your business and workforce.

2021 “Ecosystem Year in Review Report” Highlights Successes and Tragedies and Resources Needed to Help Improve Global Community Safety

Fire and life safety deaths, injuries, and losses may be unexpected, but they do not happen by chance, according to the newly published 2021 Ecosystem Year in Review report by the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute. The year 2021, says the report, was one of modest improvements and tragic setbacks that included massive wildfires, a fatal collapse of an elevated subway rail, and a hospital fire that all highlight how gaps in our global fire and life safety system can lead to tragedies. These and other examples illustrated in the seven-page report are the product of weaknesses in a community’s Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, a framework NFPA developed in 2018 that identifies the components that must work together to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, life, electrical, and other hazards. A lack of attention to any one of these elements results in greater risks and can create a significant safety threat. If just one element breaks down, people can be hurt. The Ecosystem is a key to understanding how decisions made over time can either exacerbate or control threats to safety. There are many steps to improving safety and more work to be done. But the key to reducing losses in the years to come is starting now to make these changes. Download the report to learn more. This year, the report is also available in Spanish and for the first time since the report’s inception, fire and life safety advocates can read the report in Arabic. Find additional resources and information about the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem on our webpage.  

“Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape™” is the theme for Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15, 2022

“Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape™” has been announced as the theme for Fire Prevention Week™, October 9-15, reinforcing the critical importance of developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly. In addition, this October represents the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week, the nation’s longest-running public health observance on record. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign capitalizes on its milestone anniversary, celebrating all we’ve accomplished in reducing the public’s risk to fire over the past hundred years. At the same time, the theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape,” addresses challenges that remain. According to NFPA data, home — the place people feel safest from fire — is actually where they are at greatest risk, with three-quarters (74 percent) of all US fire deaths occurring in homes. When a home fire does occur, it’s more likely to be serious; people are more likely to die in a home fire today than they were in 1980. A contributing factor is that today’s homes burn faster and hotter than they used to, minimizing the amount of time they have to escape safely. In a typical home fire, people may have as little as two minutes (or even less) to get out from the time the smoke alarms sounds. “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape” promotes potentially life-saving messages that can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. Developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly ensures that everyone knows what to do when the smoke alarm sounds and uses that time wisely. Following are key messages behind this year’s “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape” theme: Make sure your home escape plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities. Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily. Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet. Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night. To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, its 100th anniversary, and this year’s theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape,” visit www.nfpa.org/fpw.

E. Brené Duggins is named 2022 Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year

Congratulations to E. Brené Duggins, fire prevention coordinator/training captain at Holly Grove Fire Department in Lexington, North Carolina, for being named the winner of the 2022 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award. “Fire safety education remains a critical community need,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA. “With 20 years as a volunteer in the fire service, Duggins has committed herself to teaching her community to lead safer lives. She has also consistently supported her peers in addressing fire safety issues through the use of sound educational practices and today’s technologies.” Each year, NFPA confers the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award on a dedicated educator who works for a local fire department or fire marshal’s office in the U.S. or Canada and uses NFPA’s materials in consistent, creative ways. The recipient demonstrates excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community to meet their evolving fire safety needs. Duggins is being awarded a $1,000 honorarium, travel to the 2022 NFPA Conference & Expo, and an engraved Sparky statuette. The Holly Grove Fire Department will also receive a $1,000 donation to support public education activities. During her 20 years as a volunteer in the fire service, Duggins has shared her passion for technology and education not only in the state of North Carolina, but across the U.S. and Canada, teaching the public as well as fire service personnel how to enhance their own programs through the integration of technology. Furthering her commitment, Duggins has started “Ms. D’s Virtual PD”, a virtual professional development training program that combines live training sessions and on-demand training opportunities for public school and fire service personnel. She is well-regarded among her fire and life safety education peers for her dedication to not only serving her community, but helping others do the same. In addition, she is the chair of the NC Eastern Region Fire and Life Safety Educator Association and the second vice chair of the North Carolina Fire and Life Safety Educator Association State Council. Duggins officially received recognition for her award at the NFPA Stars at Night gala on Sunday, June 5. The event honors the brightest stars in fire and life safety.

Women in STEM panel discussion provides support and inspiration for women pursuing their professional goals

At the Women in STEM education session, a panel of female leaders from various fire and life safety organizations discussed the influence women currently have on the industry and the future anticipated changes for women in the fire safety world. The featured panelists included Chief Trisha Wolford, fire chief, Anne Arundel County FD; Tonya Hoover, deputy fire administrator, USFA; Danielle Antonellis, founder & executive director, Kindling; and Diana Jones, senior director of technical programs and development, International Safety Equipment Association. Jones made a special presentation performing a re-enactment of Frances Perkins, who served as a factory inspector in New York when the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire broke out. Perkins went on to become the U.S. secretary of labor from 1933-1945, fiercely advocating for safer working conditions and employee protections. From there, the panelists answered attendees’ questions, providing insights and perspectives from their own experiences over the years, along with their approach to facing challenges and struggles. Key messages included the importance of recognizing your vulnerabilities and embracing rather than fighting them. “We all go through struggles to get where we want to be,” said Hoover. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’” The presenters also encouraged women to not assume that when someone treats them poorly it’s because they’re a woman. “It could be one of many reasons,” said Wolford. “And let’s face it, some people are just jerks!” Hoover’s advice was to deal with someone in the moment, then move on and let it go. The presenters also encouraged women in the fire service not to limit themselves. Determine what your unique skill set is and where you can bring the greatest good. When asked what can be done to attract women into executive officer positions, Wolford said she makes sure the women on her staff have the support to reach whatever role they want. Being a mother, for example, should not set limits on professional opportunities. The honesty and straight-forwardness of the panels’ insights and perspectives made for an inspiring event that hopefully encourages more women to confidently pursue their professional goals and passions in the world of fire and life safety.

Electric vehicle safety training at NFPA C&E helps firefighters safely mitigate EV incidents

While electric vehicles (EVs) continue to grow in popularity on our roadways, with dozens of new models coming out each year, many fire departments remain untrained in knowing how to safely and effectively handle EV incidents. To help first responders better understand the risks associated with EV incidents and how to safely handle them, an Electric Vehicles Safety Training was hosted today by Jason Emory with the Waterbury, CT Fire Department at the NFPA Conference & Expo® in Boston. Firefighters received essential training and learned tactical considerations needed to safely respond to these types of incidents. Topics covered during the two-hour session included an introduction to electric EVs, scene size-up and management, vehicle identification, immobilization, high voltage system shutdown methods, occupant rescue, and post-incident recovery and disposal considerations. If you weren’t able to attend today’s EV training, don’t despair! The NFPA Electric Vehicle Safety training program is available online. In addition, NFPA recently received a grant from General Motors so that volunteer and under-served fire departments can access the online training for free for one year, as volunteer and underserved departments often don’t have the resources to receive the needed training. About two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. fire departments are served by part-time or volunteer firefighters, according to NFPA data. NFPA offers a wealth of resources on electric vehicle safety and training. For more information, visit https://www.nfpa.org/EV.
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