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Industrial Training Programs

OSHA Regulations for Emergency Fire Plans and Fire Brigades

Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1910.38 (29 CFR 1910.38) requires an employee emergency plan and fire prevention plan. This requires specific information such as emergency escape plans, procedures for employees who remain to operate critical plant equipment, accountability procedures, reporting a plant fire, and an alarm system to notify employees of an emergency and alert emergency team members.

Section 1910.156 describes minimum requirements for the organization, training and personal protective equipment for fire brigades. Each industry must have a statement or written policy establishing what type fire brigade and fire emergency plan it has. The employer with a fire brigade must have an organizational statement which establishes the basic organizational structure, the type, amount and frequency of training to be provided to the brigade, the expected number of members, and the function the fire brigade is to perform in the workplace.

OSHA regulations outline fire brigade requirements but do not require emergency response and the type fire brigade an industry can provide:

1. No fire brigade. Should a fire occur, procedures outline who is to be notified to sound the alarm, and employees will evacuate the plant in accordance with the plant emergency evacuation plan. The off-site fire department will be promptly notified. No employees will fight the fire evacuation plan. The off-site fire department will be promptly notified. No employees will fight the fire.

2. Incipient fire brigade. Those employees who have been properly trained to use fire extinguishers and/or small hoses up to 1 1/2" to fight small incipient stage fires. These employees must be trained to recognize when a fire is larger than an incipient fire or when smoke creates a safety hazard to personnel, and they must not fight the fire but shall evacuate the area. The employer is not required to provide protective clothing and SCBA for the incipient fire brigade members, and the incipient brigade members shall not use protective clothing or SCBA when fighting a fire because they have not been trained to do so. An initial training and education program commensurate with those duties and functions members are expected to perform shall be provided before they perform fire brigade emergency activities. The fire brigade team leader and instructors shall be provided with training and education more comprehensive than that of the general membership of the brigade. Training must be performed frequently enough to assure each member is able to perform the members¹ assigned duties and functions satisfactorily and in a safe manner to not endanger fire brigade members or other employees. All incipient brigade members shall be provided with training at least annually. Plant policy must designate the incipient brigade and its duties and responsibilities.

3. Interior fire brigade. Employees have been properly trained to fight fires inside buildings. Training must be provided as outlined in item 2 above, except quarterly training sessions are required and the annual training should include interior live firefighting. This training shall also include an initial training program that includes basic firefighter training and operating under strenuous conditions and fighting live fires. The employer must ensure that employees on the fire brigade are physically capable of performing the duties which may be assigned. Training must be adequate to ensure employees can safely function and perform their brigade responsibilities. Brigade members must be trained on the hazards of the facility and be made aware of changes to the plant. Firefighting protective clothing and SCBA shall be provided for interior fire brigade members and shall be worn when fighting fires. This personal protective clothing and SCBA equipment shall meet the requirements for firefighting as outlined in the regulation.

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Jonathan Jones,   State Fire Marshal
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South Carolina Fire Academy
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