IAFC, DOT Piloting Free Hazmat Training

The Electronic Learning Community is now available to provide high-quality training for emergency responders. Its first course concerns responding to situations involving hydrogen fuels.

A free hazmat training tool named the Electronic Learning Community has been unveiled by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, which developed it with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. (DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration provided funding.). IAFC says the site gives agencies a way to deliver high-quality training flexibly and inexpensively to emergency first responders, in particular underserved volunteer responders who may not have the time or resources to receive training on hazmat -– and, specifically, hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell incidents.

A Hydrogen Response Considerations course is the pilot for the ELC concept and is open to anyone.

IAFC and DOT have an ongoing partnership in place to expand awareness of critical information and issues related to hazmat and to improve preparedness for hazmat response for firefighters and other responders. ELC is a means of testing an online distance learning approach for training the volunteer first responder community, according to IAFC.

The use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel is rising. "Hydrogen training, however, is competing with a variety of other first-responder training, therefore it must be robust in order to cover various learning styles and keep users engaged," according to the association's May 8 announcement. "Training also must be NFPA 472-compliant to further make it worthwhile as a possibility of recertification hours for responders. It is imperative to stay ahead of the curve to comply with federal law mandates. Utilizing the standards of NFPA 472 as a framework, hydrogen training can be developed with a focus on providing awareness level training for the federal requirement can occur while saving lives."

More courses will be added as the need arises, and the site eventually will address additional alternative energy sources, emerging technologies, and other issues important to responders.

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