Free Electrical Safety Training For Fire Fighters Breaks The 1/2 Million Dollars Mark

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The Inland Empire Labor Management Co-op Committee have now provided over a half million dollars in electrical safety training to 1,800 firefighter at 22 separate fire stations at no charge. Each year several dozens of first-responders are injured on the job due to electricity. Often times a first responder such as a firefighter or police officer arrives at a scene and are unaware of the circumstances and potential hazards.

Bob Frost, Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local 440

NECA contractors and the unions in the area are concerned about their safety, we care about our community

In response to this information, The Inland Empire Labor Management Cooperation Committee (IELMCC), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 440 and 477, along with support from Southern California Edison, are sponsoring a series of informative classes devoted to electrical safety for first-responders to emergency situations.
Bob Frost, Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local 440 attributes the decision to have IELMCC pick up the cost of the training to the fact that one cannot put a value on safety. He proudly stated: “by reaching out to [local firefighters] we’re making them aware that the NECA contractors and the unions in the area are concerned about their safety, we care about our community, and we’re doing this as an outreach to them.”
Bob Frost as well as Mr. C.J. Hamilton one of their safety instructors spoke with Southern California Water and Power’s Dwight Cromie about their new cooperative endeavor to educate local first-responders here in the Inland Southern California region about the electrical dangers often present at the scene of an accident or fire.
According to Frost, most firefighters or police officers aren’t aware of the potential electrical hazards and circumstances that may be present at any given scene they are called to. “Our electrical safety program started off as being a training for the first-responders on how to deal with solar panels.” Frost shared, “When we started talking to the firefighters about what they needed for training, it went a little deeper into the arc flash training, and dealing with downed power lines.” According to Frost, a fairly recent tragedy involving a downed power line that led to the death of nearly an entire family in the Southern California region definitely served as a motivator in spreading the information about the unknown dangers present in electrical situations.
Since beginning the endeavor, training has evolved into having one of IBEW’s top instructors, C.J. Hamilton, reach out to all the first-responders in the community as an opportunity to give safety training in order to save lives. “We talk about just three simple things: downed power lines, arc flashes, and arc blasts, and that takes up the complete three hours.” Hamilton shared that 99% of the firefighters who attend his courses have never heard of an arc flash or arc blast, a frightening statistic given their frequency of exposure to the phenomenon.
So how is it that nearly all of Hamilton’s attendees have never even heard of an arc flash? According to Frost, when firefighters are trained, information about dealing with electrical issues is only touched on amongst many other items. “The training that we’re doing goes in-depth into how to deal with power when you come up to it…this is just to make [first-responders] fully aware of what they could run into”. Hamilton stressed that the courses are not training classes, but rather awareness classes for first-responders to know what electricity can do. “We’ll give them the information they need, but they need to make that life and death decision [when they show up on a scene.]”

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