IAFC's Near Miss Reporting System Begins a New Chapter

Program Manager Laura W. Bell described the scenarios as "bite-sized training" tailored for what chiefs say they need now.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs' Near Miss Reporting System (www.nationalnearmiss.org/) has begun an exciting new chapter that makes its content much more useful as training tools, something that was part of the mission for Laura W. Bell, the system's program manager, when she joined IAFC in June 2013. "It will add another dimension to what we offer in terms of training—actual immersive training," Bell said.

The system launched in 1995. Some 5,000 reports have been entered to date that describe how near misses occurred when departments responded to fires, hazmat incidents, auto extrications, medical calls, technical rescues, and more. The system's recent relaunch is taking submissions to another level, with the reports being turned into realistic scenarios. Jonathan Mackintosh of Westminster, Colo.-based AlphaTRAC gave me a demonstration of the technology that takes a trainee through six steps in decision-making when evaluating a sample incident (the steps are characterize, recognize, analyze, customize, dramatize, and utilize). "We're actually along the way teaching a decision-making process," he explained. Often there are several good options available to a trainee, but one usually rises above the rest, and top-notch decision makers will find it, he said.

Bell described the scenarios as "bite-sized training" tailored for what chiefs say they need now: Something their personnel "can do on their phone, almost," she said. Fire chiefs were telling IAFC that they valued the system's weekly emailed near miss reports but also said they and their personnel didn't want more emails; they wanted an engaging way to utilize the material in their training.

Bell said the goal is to make the system's website a center of excellence for firefighters' health and safety, "a place where you get the latest and greatest training," she added. "We're a national platform to share those experiences. The dissemination can spread like wildfire."

She said IAFC is also partnering with the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, which posts incident reviews on its website to inform the wildland fire community.

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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