- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
January 7, 1985
Mr. Ronald G. Mowery
Local No. 1455; IBEW
1820 South Hanley Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63144
Dear Mr. Mowery:
This is in response to your correspondence of December 12 concerning requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for fire brigade instructors.
The many fire brigades covered by the OSHA fire brigade standard (1910.156) vary widely in type, function, and size. The OSHA requirements for fire brigades, therefore, are performance-oriented to provide enough flexibility for the employer to organize a fire brigade which best reflects the needs of the workplace. Consequently, OSHA's training requirements for instructors are minimum, general type requirements. They are not divided into different levels of competence such as Instructor I, II, III, and IV as defined by the National Fire Protection Association standard (NFPA-1041).
The appendix to the fire brigade standard contains guidelines which should help you better understand the intent of OSHA's fire brigade training requirements. A copy of the OSHA standards are enclosed, and I have marked the appropriate pages for your information.
The following information is in response to your specific questions.
1. The minimum acceptable standards for instructors should be at least equivalent to Instructor I (NFPA-1041).
2. The instructor candidate need not be, or have been, a full time member of a fire department for five years. However, fire department experience (either volunteer or paid) would be helpful, and is certainly recommended.
3. Although OSHA's requirements are not specific with respect to teaching methods, we would recommend that tests be routinized.
4. While we do not see any advantage for a pass/fail determination being made at an administrative level, there are no OSHA requirements against it.
5. It is acceptable to OSHA to have fire brigade candidates pass a standardized set of physical, emotional and mental evaluations.
6. It is acceptable to OSHA to have these evaluations performed at an administrative level.
7. It is acceptable to OSHA to have an Instructor III act in an administrative or supervisory capacity and have the actual skill instruction performed by Instructors I and II.
I hope this information will be helpful to you. Please contact Mr. Glen Gardner of my staff (202-523-7225) if you need further information.
Barry J. White
Director, Directorate of Safety
December 12, 1984
Mr. Robert Rowland
Assistant Secretary of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20210
Dear Mr. Rowland:
Local Union 1455 represents employees who have historically had the responsibility for training other employees in fighting incipient fires. We have recently been advised by the employer that they plan to train employees to fight interior structural fires as fire brigades. During the course of our discussions in this regard, a number of questions were raised concerning O.S.H.A. requirements and acceptable practices for compliance with 29 CFR 1910, Subpart L, Section 1910.156 and 1910.157. In this regard, I would request an official response to the following:
1. 1910.156(2),(c) states, in part, "Fire brigade leaders and training instructors shall be provided with training and education which is more comprehensive than that provided to the general membership of the fire brigade." As we are attempting to determine what additional training or education would be required to qualify our current inci- pient fire fighting trainers in order to allow them to train fire brigade members in fighting interior structural fires, I would like to know the minimum acceptable standards for such instructors.
2. In order to qualify as an Instructor I or Instructor II, must the candidate be, or have been, a fulltime member of a fire department for a minimum of five years?
3. If Instructors I and II are used to teach brigade candidates specific skills and then administer and grade oral, written and manipulative performance tests, should these tests be routinized so as to prevent such instructors from manipula- ting the results?
4. Is it acceptable for a course pass/fail determination to be made at an administrative level based upon the sum of the various specific skill testing mentioned in item #3 above?
5. Is it acceptable to have prospective fire brigade candidates pass a standardized set of physical, emotional and mental evaluations to determine their suitability and capacity to perform the Interior Structure Brigade duties?
6. Is it acceptable to have such candidate evaluation performed at an administrative level?
7. Is it acceptable to have an Instructor III act in an admin- istrative or supervisory capacity and have the actual skill instruction performed by Instructors I and II?
Your assistance in this matter is most appreciated.
Very truly yours,
Ronald G. Mowery
Local No. 1455
International Brotherhood of
1820 So. Hanley Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63144