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Academy leads the way in BA Instructor training

The Training Academy at Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has introduced a new Breathing Apparatus Instructor (BAI) course to train both its own staff and personnel from other fire and rescue services. The course is aimed at delegates who are required to plan and deliver safe and effective breathing apparatus training.

This in-depth course teaches delegates everything they require to become a skilled and confident BA instructor. The course allows delegates to learn experientially, by running their own exercises where they receive feedback from the course instructors and the other course attendees, allowing each student to confidently run exercises of their own. Students learn through practical exercises, theory based instruction, E-learning and assessments.

The course is designed to emulate realistic scenarios and is very hands-on, so as well as sitting-in on lectures presented by the instructors, delegates also deliver lectures to their fellow students. Successful completion of the course will lead to a Skills for Justice Level 3 Award in Breathing Apparatus Instruction. This award consists of two mandatory units, which include breathing apparatus instruction and delivery in the use of breathing apparatus.

Learning Outcomes
On completion of the course candidates will be able to demonstrate the required level of competence regarding:

  •  Breathing apparatus set instruction
  •  Delivering a breathing apparatus session
  •  Entrapment and set-removal training
  •  Completion of legislative documents
  •  Conduct a constructive and meaningful debrief

In order to take part in the course students must be competent BA wearers and physically fit to undertake scenario-based training. Personnel attending this course should have or be working towards a qualification in teaching, for example Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) or an equivalent. Integral to the course is an assessment philosophy that provides evidence of the candidate’s individual attainment and there is an initial assessment of theoretical knowledge. Instructors continually assess delegates throughout the course with the aim to ensure all students are progressing and developing their practical skills in a safe and effective manner, and that their theoretical knowledge continues to increase. Prior to the assessments, candidates will be made aware of the required standards.

Main topic areas of the course include:

  •  Breathing apparatus procedures and equipment
  •  Physiology of respiration
  •  Heat and humidity
  •  Principles of safety
  •  Risk assessment
  •  Training and exercise planning
  • Restricted access including set removal

During the restricted access exercise the students are paired off and briefed to enter the smoke chamber on a specific search pattern. They are to navigate their way into the chamber adopting the techniques discussed during the theoretical input. They will then make their way through the tunnel complex to the restricted opening, perform the correct set removal, make their way through the opening, don the set and make their way out.

The course has been designed to give a qualified breathing apparatus wearer the necessary skills and awareness to design, organise lead and instruct a BA session. It will emphasise the skills that are necessary to complete a meaningful BA lesson. The main aim of the course is to give each candidate the ability to plan, resource, deliver and review a BA session in a safe and effective manner.
Course designer Adrian Sellick says: “I have been on breathing apparatus instructor courses that only teach you about BA sets, in addition to this, our course teaches delegates how to become a competent instructor. We want our students to walk away and feel confident to run their own training session, which is why our delegates are given the opportunity to plan and implement their own exercises throughout the course.”

The ethos of the course is centered around firefighter safety, which is emphasised greatly throughout. On 2nd February 2005 during a rescue in an apartment building in Harrow Court, Hertfordshire, two firefighters died in the fire. One of the fatalities was as a result of becoming entangled in cables during the rescue. Sadly, this is not the only recent example, entanglement has become a major issue for the fire service and therefore raising awareness and teaching delegates how to best deal with entanglement should be a part of all BA related courses. Entanglement is covered in this course and other relevant health and safety issues are highlighted as firefighter safety is of paramount importance. This five-day course provides in-depth information in order to cover every reasonably foreseeable danger in relation to breathing apparatus wearing.

The DSFRS course teaches students how to train their own FRS staff in BA wearing for respiratory protection and provides best practice for entering and exiting a smoke filled building, having carried out tasks in a safe and efficient manner in line with TB197. It is useful to be aware that there is a document entitled “Breathing Apparatus Command and Control Procedures – operational Guidance” – issued in the UK by the Office of the Chief Fire & Rescue Adviser on behalf of Communities and Local Government, which is undergoing consultation and may well replace TB1/97 in the future.

All students on the course have the opportunity to participate in a hot fire exercise, the aim being to provide students with an experience of breathing apparatus procedures, firefighting and casualty rescue in a simulated incident, while working in heat and smoke.

Delegates are given a real life simulation exercise to undertake. On successful completion of the course and subject to passing all sections, delegates will have demonstrated a high level of knowledge of breathing apparatus procedures and techniques. They will have the competence to describe technical and operating principles of a breathing apparatus set and will be able to risk assess, plan, prepare, conduct, supervise and analyse practical and resource management exercises.

A recommended follow on to this course is the DSFRS Training Academy PPVI (Positive Pressure Ventilation Instructor) and CFBTI (Compartment Fire Behaviour Instructor) courses.

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