FRITA’s Post Deployment Reviews

18 March, 2014 at 6:49 pm

March 18, 2014 – FRITA’s Post Deployment Reviews.

Our 2014 deployments represented a milestone as FRITA partnered with the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) Fire & Safety Division to provide certified and standardized training to fire service personnel in El Salvador, Colombia, and Panama.  In both El Salvador and Panama, FRITA instructors facilitated the practical evaluation and written exam components of the JIBC Basic Fire Fighting Certificate, which allows departments to demonstrate that their fire fighters possess the minimum fire fighter skills within NFPA 1001 and receive certification from the JIBC.

The Basic Fire Fighting Certificate also provides credit toward NFPA 1001 Fire Fighter-I for subjects completed and evaluated through the Basic Certification process. To achieve the Basic Fire Fighting Certificate, individuals must successfully complete the applicable written examinations and practical evaluations administered by the JIBC, Fire & Safety Division through this unique partnership with Fire Rescue International Training Association (FRITA).

In addition, FRITA once again administered the One World Scholarship program for four recent graduates of the JIBC Career Fire Fighter Pre-Employment Certificate Program (CFFPCP). In its 5th year, the One World Scholarship offers a full scholarship annually to four CFFPCP entailing three weeks in-country, the final ten days of which is spent alongside FRITA instructors. For the previous four years the program was held in El Salvador, 2014 marked the first time the scholarship program ran in Panama.

As a registered non-profit focused on delivery of standardized training, FRITA welcomes the participation and involvement of fire fighters from fire departments big and small. Efforts are undertaken to support those who become involved. As an example, in 2014 twelve FRITA instructors were enrolled in the JIBC Basic Fire Fighting Certificate Train-the-Trainer program at no cost. Ongoing Train-the-Trainer courses will be held for additional instructors seeking to evaluate in FRITA destination countries.

Planning for 2015 has already begun with Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama requesting FRITA assistance. For further information, visit our website www.frita.ca and like us on Facebook (Fire Rescue International Training Association).

Panama:

FRITA’s 2014 Panama deployment was led off with the two week in-country portion of the JIBC One World Scholarship. The students and two JIBC/FRITA instructors departed January 28, and traveled through central and western Panama learning all about the Panamanian Fire Service (BCBRP), Panamanian culture and history, and learning Spanish.

Most importantly, the team spent five hot and exhausting days preparing 30 new BCBRP recruits for their evaluations in the JIBC Basic Fire Fighting Certificate program.  Without the expertise of this team and these valuable training hours, these new recruits would have found the specific techniques and concepts of the NFPA standards a significant challenge. The 30 recruits were handpicked from the over 200 new candidates undergoing basic training as they prepare to join the ranks of the BCBRP. Under the leadership of their Training Officer Alejandro Bonilla, this group bonded to become a highly motivated, supportive, and ultimately successful team. This ended up earning them the reputation of being the “A Team” of the entire recruit class.

On February 7th, the remaining Canadian fire fighters arrived to conduct the practical evaluations and proctor the written exams for the Basic Fire Fighting Certificate, bringing the team to nine. While several recruits required their remedial, or second chance, in order to achieve the standard, they all showed the determination and perseverance required to pass the practical evaluations. This was no small feat as many of the requirements and evolutions were introduced to them only weeks prior to the testing period. The written exams are currently being graded and we are hoping for a similar success rate.

This inspiring program has laid the foundation for the growth of the partnership between the BCBRP, the JIBC and FRITA in the years to come.  2015 will see another group of BCBRP recruits receive the Basic Firefighting Certificate and plans are underway to carry forward the successful candidates from this year’s class to NFPA 1001 Fire Fighter-I certification in 2015.  This would be the first recruit class in Central or South America to receive training and certification to NFPA standards. Something FRITA, the JIBC, and the BCBRP can be justifiably proud of!

Colombia:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On February 13th, four Canadian fire service instructors deployed to the Atlántico Department of Colombia as members of the Fire Rescue International Training Association (FRITA) inaugural deployment to this nation. The Atlántico Department is the third smallest of the country’s departments (Similar to a state or province) but its population of 2,272,170 makes it one of the most densely populated, incorporating 23 municipalities.

Over the course of the ten day deployment, the FRITA team travelled to several fire stations, met with key fire service officers, Colombian government representatives, and representatives of regional and international organizations, such as AREMCA and the European Union.

Based out of the city of Barranquilla, the team utilized the fire station in Campo de la Cruz as the training hub, given its central location for many of the smaller municipalities in the region. Participants, apparatus, and equipment from the towns of Sabanalarga, Sabanagrande, Malambo, and Barranquilla all converged on Campo de la Cruz for the 5 day/40 hour training course. Topics covered followed the JIBC Basic Fire Fighting Certificate program, with additional training focused on wildland fire suppression tactics and structural firefighting strategies. The program culminated with several live-burn simulations, entailing wildland firefighting, structural fire suppression, and victim rescue utilizing ladder and rope skills.

With media and dignitaries present, the final day demonstrated that the Colombian fire fighters have a keen desire to learn and apply their newly acquired skills. Through ongoing partnership and collaboration, FRITA will be returning in the near future to assist in the professional development of volunteer and career fire fighters that will help these dedicated Colombian fire fighters continue serving and protecting their communities.

El Salvador:

On February 13th, seven Canadian fire service members arrived in El Salvador to evaluate practical skills and facilitate the written exam components of the JIBC Basic Firefighting Certificate Program. The Cuerpo de Bomberos de El Salvador (National Fire Service of El Salvador) had worked to prepare 24 senior officers, fire station commanders, and upcoming training officers for this process. This included having a fire fighter from the USA attend and deliver a training course following the NFPA 1001 model, which provided the students with a great practical background, as the JIBC program is derived directly from this standard. In fact, the JIBC basic Firefighting Certificate Program provides for the opportunity to ‘bridge’ over to NFPA 1001 with addition of additional certified training around EMS and HazMat. The El Salvadoran fire service is certainly looking into the future as this being an option.

Of note during the trip, members of the national government at the level of cabinet minister attended the FRITA program to observe, and more specifically to attend the formal announcement that a National Fire Service Training Academy is being established. The FRITA program being the first recognized component of this new endeavour. This is a significant step forward for the service as they work to standardize both training delivery and qualifications across the country.

2014 is the seventh year that FRITA members have been deploying annually to El Salvador and it marks 20 years that fire departments in Metro-Vancouver have been extending a helping hand. It is obvious, that moving away from the donation of retired PPE and apparatus and working with our partners to develop sustainable training programs is having a lasting impact in El Salvador and among neighboring countries, as interest is being shown in Guatemala, Belize, and Nicaragua for the Basic Firefighting Certificate Program. It is rewarding to see the partner agencies take on their own internal training programs that seek to meet NFPA 1001 standards, and for FRITA to be able to support these efforts through testing and certification.

Finally, as fire fighters need to play as hard as they work, the team this year had the opportunity to attend many social events; from dinner at the Canadian Ambassador’s residence, watching the Gold Medal hockey game alongside our El Salvadoran counterparts, to a day at the lake with the team and local family and friends. The long history of friendship between Canadian fire fighters and those of El Salvador has resulted in positive change. With the support of fire fighters from across Canada who continue to donate their time and expertise, we can continue to help keep our brothers and sisters safe, through training and education as they strive to serve their communities and nation.