This ongoing feature provides information on free resources accessible to first responder departments nationwide. This includes training, equipment, and funding opportunities that focus on rural and small to midsize communities.
National Fire Academy Online
The US Fire Administration under FEMA provides professional training to firefighters through the National Fire Academy (NFA) both at its main site and through a sponsored off-campus program. Students now have the option of gaining NFA continuing education units (CEUs), obtaining college credit, and completing NFA prerequisites through a free online program offered on the Academy website. The courses offering credit are 0.1 to 1.5 CEUs each, as listed along with the topics and class description in the course catalogue. Classes can be accessed at any time and are self-paced.
The NFA offers CEUs for these classes through the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), at the ratio of one CEU for every ten hours of course time. CEUs can be accessed under the “Reports” section of NFA Online under Easy Links once students log in to the page. College credit for completed courses is offered at the discretion of individual institutions rather than NFA itself, and interested students should check with their program of study prior to taking the classes offered on the site. Recommendations on credit equivalencies for this program are provided by the American Council on Education College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE/CCRS); students may register and request a transcript for these approved classes from ACE on their website.
In order to take NFA courses, students must create an account with the site and register for a FEMA student ID; students who have obtained an ID during any training by a FEMA agency should use the same number to ensure the proper tracking of records. Registration can be completed by filling out the brief online form provided here. Courses will become available within an hour of account creation along with a site tutorial.
The courses provided in the NFA Online program include:
• Awareness of Command and Control Decision making at Multiple Alarm Incidents (1.5 CEUs): “The topics covered in this pre-course include: classical and naturalistic decision making, strategies for managing safety concerns at expanded emergency incidents, pre-incident preparation, resource allocation, effective use of on-site communications, set-up of an incident command post and post incident analysis.” The course is also a prerequisite for the six-day in-person NFA training “Command and Control Decision Making at Multi-Alarm Incidents.”
• Testing and Evaluation in Water Supplies (0.6 CEUs): This course includes instruction, reference materials and a mastery test focusing on decision making, prediction, and student response. Topics covered are “testing and evaluation of available water supplies for water supply systems; on-site storage systems; and rural areas not served by a water supply; determining water supply for automatic sprinklers, standpipe systems, and for fire suppression activities.”
• “Coffee Break” Series in Fire Protection (0.2 - 0.3 CEUs): Each of these units is a compilation of one-page training notices designed to provide training that fits within the busy schedule of firefighting professionals. Topics include fire protection systems, building construction, codes and standards, inspection techniques, hazardous materials, and administrative tips, divided into collections worth 0.2 to 0.3 CEUs per set.
• National Fire Incident Reporting System Self Study (1.2 CEUs): “NFIRS is the comprehensive method for detailed tracking of fire, emergency, and related incident responses.” This course provides an introduction to the data collection system, modules, conversion, and coding exercises.