Responding to a chemical spill of any size presents its own special hazards and risks. One of the tasks of Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and State Emergency Response Committees (SERCs) is to help provide training programs for emergency response and responders. Volunteer fire departments make up 85% of the fire departments in America, and getting the correct training and equipment is always a problem.

LEPCs and SERCs are also chronically underfunded, and in the case of some LEPCs, may not even exist. A telephone survey indicates 3.2 million responders need training, much greater than earlier estimated. There are responder training opportunities on the Internet:


The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) offers free training, Go to the association's homepage at and click on HAZMAT, or just click on

The IAFF provides training by firefighters for firefighters, more or less peer training. Much of this is funded by grants from NIOSH (60%), EPA (18%) DOE (14%) and DOT (8%). The training is federally funded and FREE.

IAFF has produced 17 training programs to date, including all levels of training required by the Occupational Safety and Health regulations, and even some "Special Hazard" programs. The program components include texts, 35mm slides, videos, transparencies, handouts, and more. Since 1991, IAFF has directly trained over 20,000. Another 700,000 have been indirectly trained using IAFF materials.

IAFF's training is "defensive," not "offensive. It is designed to protect the health and safety of emergency responders and firefighters dealing with chemical emergencies. It involves the integration of safety principles designed at protecting health, first responder operations, and defensive skills.

IAFF's training uses direct training and instructor training, and course distribution, all free of charge.

The IAFF uses the Internet to advance its training. Case studies have been posted there, and course updates can actually be downloaded and inserted into courses that have been previously supplied, updating the older curricula. There is also refresher training available. A multimedia approach is used now also, including CD-ROMs and Powerpoint Presentations.

The future directions of IAFF's training include course updates, first responder awareness, and technician level training. Domestic Preparedness (Weapons of Mass destruction/Terrorism) training is also being prepared.

IAFF wants to expand its direct training, and has a special Recruit Training Initiative to train new firefighter recruits early in their careers. This IAFF training is FREE, and provides 24 contact hours of a highly informative and interactive training program. It provides basic defensive skills in hazmat operations, and exceeds the requirements of OSHA 1910.120 and NFPA 472 standards. This Recruit Training Initiative includes the provision of two top-quality instructors who have received extensive training in all aspects of Hazardous Materials Training for First Responders curriculum; and includes all the materials (text, slides, videos) needed for the training program at no cost to the sponsoring department. Up-to-date, revised, materials are sent every two years. The package includes field-tested pre and post course exams. This course strongly emphasizes health and safety principles for firefighters and paramedics.

Other programs offered by IAFF are Confined Space and EMS.

State of Oregon-Sponsored Web Site

The state of Oregon has created a Web Site with the information, knowledge, and training to meet the needs of HMEP grantees. This web site is being developed and funded as a 'grass roots' effort by the State of Oregon's Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The intent is to provide HAZWOPER training and information for all states currently receiving funds under HMEP. The site invites planning professionals to review the site and email comments and suggestions and help them make this site more responsive to the needs of planning professionals.

The site provides:
Training: Online Course/Examinations and a Catalog of training materials. Regulations: The latest up-to-date OSHA, NFPA, DOT, and EPA regulations. Important Links: Links to FEMA/HMEP and other important web sites for information critical to safety personnel. Discussions for Professional Planners: Join a discussion group and interact with instructors, industry experts and other HAZWOPER personnel. Opportunities to Download: Download free courseware and other information, including MSDSs and Worker Right-To-Know materials. HAZOPS Refresher Training Certification: Refresher training and testing for Hazardous Materials Operations Level, NFPA 472 and 29 CFR 1910.120(q)8.

This site even allows training and training administration in its databases. The site's HAZMAT Operations Level Refresher course and competency test meets 29CFR 1910.120(q)8 and the NFPA 472 Standard (Operations Level).

Administrators can direct their students to this Web Site, which will train and quiz the students at their convenience, and keep a record for the administrators. Access to the course and the test results are provided via an authorized login/password. There are plenty of quizzes. The Web Site can quiz and re-quiz the same student on the same module, scrambling the questions and answers so that the only way to actually pass the quiz is to understand the material. The script even has voice support--it reads to you. The site offers twelve modules and a comprehensive final exam. Each examination is unique, with questions drawn randomly from an Operations Level Question Database.

This training and administrative tracking is quite a useful service, especially for resource-poor LEPCs and volunteer firefighter organizations in frontier and rural areas. Time spent on the road to a distant training can now be spent at an Internet site, available 24 hours a day. Firefighters can refresh their training while at the station waiting for a call. If they must close out and respond, the site will save their work where they left off.

The Web Site address is:

National Fire Academy Web Site

The National Fire Academy maintains a Web Site on the FEMA site at

Through its courses and programs, the National Fire Academy (NFA) works to enhance the ability of fire and emergency services and allied professionals to deal more effectively with fire and related emergencies. The Academy's delivery system is diverse. Courses are delivered at the resident facility in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and throughout the Nation in cooperation with State and local fire training organizations and local colleges and universities.