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.

June 20, 2012

Mike McCreary, Director
Gulf Coast Emergency Response Training Academy
1351 Salco Road
Axis, Alabama 36505

Dear Mr. McCreary:

Thank you for your letter dated October 4, 2011, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a clarification of OSHA's Fire brigades standard, 29 CFR 1910.156(c)(3).[1]. This constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence.

Your scenario and questions are paraphrased and our responses follow.

Background/Scenario: In your letter, you state that you field questions from customers and potential customers who incorrectly believe that the schools mentioned in 29 CFR 1910.156(c)(3) are the only schools that OSHA recognizes to fulfill the training and education requirements for fire brigade members. Further, you state that you understand that these are merely examples of schools that meet the training and education requirements for the standard but that many employers believe that these are the only schools that will enable them to comply with the standard. In addition, you state that the Gulf Coast Emergency Response Training Academy is of the same size as the schools listed in the standard. Finally, you express concern in that the Gulf Coast Emergency Response Training Academy is at a competitive disadvantage to the schools referred to in the standard.

Question #1: Are there any other OSHA general industry standards that list examples of acceptable schools?

Answer #1: No. There are no other OSHA general industry standards that list examples of acceptable schools to assist the employer in selecting a training institution that will comply with the training and education requirements of the OSHA standard.

Question #2: Is there a baseline requirement that would allow an industrial training academy, such as the Gulf Coast Emergency Response Training Academy, to be listed along with those mentioned in the standard?

Answer #2: No. Fire brigades covered by OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.156 vary widely in type function, and size. OSHA's requirements are performance-oriented to allow the employer to organize a fire brigade which best effects the needs of the workplace.

In the preamble to OSHA's fire brigades final rule, published in the Federal Register, 45 FR 179, on September 12, 1980, Page 60674, OSHA states: "the standard uses the training programs provided by several recognized institutions as models, and requires that employer's program be of a quality similar to those programs. Of course, the employer may send employees to these schools for appropriate training. As an alternative, training programs developed by other institutions or the employer may be used if they are of similar quality."

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that OSHA's enforcement guidance is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. Such guidance could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry and Agriculture Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.

Sincerely,

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs


[1]29 CFR 1910.156(c)(3)
The quality of the training and education program for fire brigade members shall be similar to those conducted by such fire training schools as the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute; Iowa Fire Service Extension; West Virginia Fire Service Extension; Georgia Fire Academy, New York State Department, Fire Prevention and Control; Louisiana State University Firemen Training Program, or Washington State's Fire Service Training Commission for Vocational Education. (For example, for the oil refinery industry, with its unique hazards, the training and education program for those fire brigade members shall be similar to those conducted by Texas A & M University, Lamar University, Reno Fire School, or the Delaware State Fire School.)