What is in this article?:
- Blue Card Program Changes Look of Incident-Commander Training
- Who Can Use it
Red Cards are synonymous with wildfire training achievement. The founders of the Blue Card hope the program will achieve similar stature in structural firefighting.
(Appeared in print as "The Blue Standard")
For years, Red Cards have been synonymous with achievement in wildland firefighting training. Now, Alan Brunacini is hoping Blue Cards will become similarly coveted and respected in structural firefighting.
While there are structural-firefighting certifications at the state level, no nationwide system exists to certify or standardize incident-commander training. NIMS is suitable for large-scale disasters, but isn’t easily applicable to routine, daily responses.
The idea for the Blue Card system originated while Brunacini still was an assistant chief and acting operations chief. “After we explained the [incident command system] to them, to the battalion chiefs said ‘That’s nice but what do you want me to do when I’m the incident commander?’”
Brunacini believed that a good question should get a simple answer. That answer would become the 8Functions of Command. “We had to have a functional answer, so we created the answer to that question with a system that was really tactical. Then we wrote it in the original Fire Command.”
That system was included in Fire Command, introduced to the structural fire service in 1985. The textbook quickly began to change the way departments across the U.S. fought fires.
After Phoenix Firefighter Brett Tarver was killed in a supermarket fire in March 2001, Brunacini updated Fire Commandto include the results from Phoenix’s testing. His notes became the companion to the 8 Functions of Command. The revised edition added a nine-part DVD series, an instructor’s guide, a student workbook and a second textbook, Command Safety. This updated package became the basis for the Blue Card Incident Command Training and Certification program.
Blue Card is designed to be applied to local incidents and disasters. “If you have a Type-1 event, you would use Blue Card,” Brunacini said. “NIMS and Blue Card complement each other. I call this 'baby NIMS' because Blue Card is something you can use every day. NIMS is so large scale, most wonder, “What am I going to do with it?’”
How it Works
There are three main components of the Blue Card program: the online program, the three-day certification lab, and the three-day train-the trainer program.
The 50-hour online course teaches the cognitive portions of the Fire Command curriculum package. The idea stemmed from courses at the Command Training Center, developed after Tarver’s death. There, Nick Brunacini was a division chief, while John Brunacini was assigned to the CTC as technical support.
“It’s not a typical online program because it’s simulation-based,” John Brunacini said, adding that there are an estimated 200 different burning buildings in the program. “If it was me and the first time I saw it, I’d have my whole crew going through it with me.”
After completing the online program, students begin the three-day certification simulation lab for the evaluation/testing phase of the program. The evaluation portion incorporates the Standard 8Functions of Command; regional standard operating procedures; tactical operations templates for five occupancy types; and high-fidelity structure fire simulations.
The three-day train-the-trainer program includes each simulation’s key teaching and evaluation points, in addition to all instructor support materials, 12multi-position simulations.