Firefighters are responsible for keeping the public safe from a variety of hazards, but how do these emergency responders keep themselves safe?
The city of Pittsburgh's Bureau of Fire was recently awarded a $571,500 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Authority to further train the city’s firefighters.
The money will be used to bring every firefighter in the bureau up to the same level of safety training, said Public Safety Department spokeswoman Sonya Toler.
“Think of this as continued education studies for our bureau firefighters. And what this grant in particular will do is make sure that all of our firefighters have the same standard of training,” said Toler.
Toler says most fire departments are forced to stagger their training for budgetary reasons, with some personnel receiving additional education before others. According to Toler, this grant will allow the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire to be one of the most highly trained forces in the country.
“More so than actually combatting fires, there are other things that a firefighter has to be aware of to protect his or her self. And those are the kind of things that this training will focus on,” Toler said. “There will never be a matter where the firefighters are called out and one person on the truck doesn’t have the same amount of knowledge about how to combat the situation as the others.”
Toler said the bureau applied for the grant after realizing that there were deficiencies in the current training.
“We saw after an internal assessment that not all of our firefighters had the same level of skill to prevent what we call ‘in the line of duty’ injuries,” Toler explained.
One example she gave of situations that require special safety education for firefighters was split-level homes, or buildings that have multiple floors underground.
“That takes special training, in some cases, to understand how to combat the fire, depending on where it is in a structure like that,” Toler said.
The total cost of the training is $635,000. The city will contribute $63,500, or 10 percent, as part of the grant agreement.