4/19/2011 12:00 AM
TEEX's Emergency Services Training Institute (ESTI) and Knowledge Engineering Center (KEC) are developing the curriculum and online campus for a hydrogen fuel training program housed within the National Hazardous Materials Fusion Center.
This effort is part of a proof of concept between the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), with support from the Department of Energy.
The introductory course is targeted to volunteer firefighters, but will be available to all emergency responders who may respond to a hydrogen or hydrogen fuel cell incident. Volunteer fire departments are among the primary target audiences for the training due to their limited resources, especially time and funding. Hydrogen fuel has different properties than other common fuels and requires different techniques for incident response.
According to an IAFC report, there are about 800,000 underserved responders who staff over 80 percent of America's fire departments. Hydrogen is gaining momentum as an alternative fuel, and online hydrogen training needs to be robust, effective and interactive to cover various learning styles and engage volunteer first responders while providing the content and competencies needed. While IAFC recognizes that there will always be a hands-on component to emergency response training, research shows online and distance learning is more convenient, reduces training costs and improves learning outcomes, the report states.
IAFC is funding the eLearning project through a grant from RITA through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The agency works to protect the American public and the environment by ensuring the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials by all transportation modes and ensuring the preparedness and response communities are primed to deal with hazardous materials.
This online training system will provide volunteer and combination fire departments a viable training capability to ensure they are able to stay current on trends and issues relating to hazardous materials response and help them meet the competencies in NFPA® 472. It will also provide others, such as law enforcement, health and industry, with the knowledge to keep their communities safe. The IAFC is working with other key organizations such as the Department of Energy, the National Fire Academy, and others within the hydrogen or response field to ensure the accuracy of the course content.
"The United States is a leader in the production of hydrogen fuel and H2 vehicles, so it is vital that responders know how this fuel behaves and how to respond to an emergency involving hydrogen fuel," said Aimee Smith, Business Development Coordinator with Knowledge Engineering.
"We're excited about working with the ESTI curriculum team on this project and continuing our relationship with IAFC," she added. "Based on the success of this initial program, we hope to develop a larger online resource center and additional courseware for IAFC."
ESTI curriculum coordinator Aaron Bridge said the online course is expected to be completed in summer 2011. The TEEX Knowledge Engineering Center will deploy a customized version of its FreedomLearn learning management system to house the courseware and host the course for IAFC.