The "New Normal" of Fire Safety Training

Mike Bradshaw

Now is the time to move your team to online training for fire safety.

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Keeping up with fire safety training during the pandemic is more important than ever. While many industries face the profound new challenges of COVID-19, protecting life and property from the threat of fire remains our priority. Deadly fires continue to break out.

A recent hospital fire in in Brazil resulted in two deaths and the evacuation of the facility. In late October, a massive warehouse fire in Sumpter, South Carolina took two days to extinguish. Fortunately, there were no deaths reported. The reliability and responsiveness of fire protection systems during a fire cannot be comprised, pandemic or not. Ensuring staff are up to date on fire protection systems, installation techniques and systems integrations challenges can help mitigate the risk of a fire. But there are other reasons to make sure you and your team of fire protection specialists keep up with their training.

Why Focus on Fire Protection Training Now?

For much of 2020, many of us were forced to change course, address the pandemic and react to massive shifts in how we work. Now that we have been living with COVID-19 for almost 9 months, the commitment to training staff on fire protection shifts focus to the future. Continuing to train – or even upping the pace of training – positions your team to be proactive and better able to address client concerns.

While most fire protection engineers have a broad background in fire and life safety, many pursue areas of specialization. For example, before the pandemic struck the owner of a regional installer shared that one of the obstacles to the company’s growth is that their sprinkler specialists are not as well versed in fire alarms. The owner’s response was to begin cross training the team.

Owners invest in their employees and employees invest in themselves when they cross train. Companies who focus on growing staff skills during the pandemic are better positioned to remain resilient.

Training in the “New Normal”

Government regulations, professional standards and company policies require that fire protection specialists complete training. In the new normal, we still must get the job done – but are forced to do so in a different way. What options do we have available to us now? Are there practical alternatives to meeting this challenge?

Only two things are needed to run online training programs efficiently and effectively.

  1. A Learning Management System (LMS) to distribute web-based training modules to your team and clients and to produce training records organized and reportable. Many LMS’s today are cloud-based, easy-to-use and affordable. If you are using spreadsheets to manage your training programs now, checking out an LMS might eliminate a perpetual headache even in normal times. Its usefulness will continue into the new normal.
  2. An online meeting platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams or WebEx, to name only a few options, are a substitute for face-to-face instructor-led training events. Trainees sign up for these events online and their attendance is recorded automatically when they sign on

Taking the Next Step

There’s nothing new about online training. It’s been around for a couple decades. The same is true of web-based meeting platforms. What is different is that both solutions have come of age. The supporting technologies have matured. Both are supported by game-changing improvements in the web’s infrastructure. High speed Internet is now widely available. Online communication is one of the rarities in industry — it is better, faster and cheaper than the product it replaces. Now is the time to move your team to online training. The benefits will last longer after the pandemic has ended.

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