The North County Fire Protection District board approved sole-course contracts for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and expanded incident command training.
Because both expenditures were funded by an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) award, the contracts were approved on the same 5-0 vote Feb. 19.
The agenda item covered two of the three subjects of the $351,477 AFG funding NCFPD received earlier this year from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration; the grant also funded power lift gurneys for the fire district’s paramedics operation.
The Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department, whose administrative matters are handled by NCFPD, received AFG funding for SCBA equipment in 2011. “We worked with them to do a full evaluation and determine what would be the best breathing apparatus for us,” said NCFPD fire chief Bill Metcalf.
That seven-month evaluation involved demonstrations by six manufacturers along with a wear period which used each apparatus in a variety of scenarios. Mine Safety Appliances Company, which was founded in 1912 and subsequently expanded to provide safety equipment to other industries, was the preferred SCBA manufacturer. Rainbow purchased 18 SCBA units from MSA.
In addition to the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department, several adjacent fire departments also use SCBA units manufactured by MSA. “It made sense to make it the same breathing apparatus,” Metcalf said.
“All of our operations are now equipped with the most current self-contained breathing apparatus which meet the most up-to-date standards,” Metcalf said.
All NCFPD battalion chiefs and captains have already completed the on-line portion of Blue Card’s Hazard Zone incident command training program, although only four of them have earned certification following a 24-hour manipulative scenario-based component. The AFG funding will allow for certification of all officers, for training of incident command trainers, and for the rest of the fire department to begin the on-line portion.
“The grant allowed us to complete that training,” Metcalf said.
The 22 current NCFPD officers will renew their existing subscription to the Blue Card Hazard Zone Command Training and Certification Program while 35 new NCFPD staff members will be enrolled in the initial 50-hour training series. Three NCFPD staff members will become in-house trainers and administrators after attending a six-day “train-the-trainer” course and three days of command simulations.
The sole-source contract with Blue Card allows for all NCFPD staff to be trained using the same materials, standards, and manner. “If we’re going to do command training everyone’s going to need to be trained the same way,” Metcalf said.
The AFG award has a local match requirement. The total cost for the projects is $390,529, and line items in NCFPD’s budget will provide the district’s $39,000 match.