The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) at WVU has been awarded a new grant for nearly $1 million to spearhead first responder training by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Al Ebron, NAFTC executive director, explained that his organization has a goal of bringing critically needed alternative fuel vehicle first responder safety training to state fire academies across the country and providing the knowledge to safely and confidently respond to accidents involving the vehicles.
"The next generation vehicles that use alternative fuels and advanced technologies are just as safe as conventional vehicles, but different," Ebron said. "Therefore, it is critical that our first responders are properly trained to understand the differences, so they can safely respond, without any hesitation, to an accident involving these vehicles."
"The grant will also enable us to offer 8,500 scholarships to firefighters in remote locations so they can take the Advanced Electric Drive First Responder Safety Training online course," Ebron added.
The project also includes a reconfiguring of the NAFTC's Quick Reference Guide (QRG) for access by computers on fire apparatus and emergency equipment vehicles.
He said the new FEMA grant will allow the NAFTC to bring the First Responder Safety Training for Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicles it developed to 12 state fire academies across the country.
"The QRG is a tool for emergency personnel who need to access information about alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles at an accident scene," Ebron explained. "It is currently available as a free iPhone/Android app or as a hard copy."
He said that in addition to the valuable training the grant will enable NAFTC to provide, the scholarships it will make possible are critically important on local levels because of the traditional funding shortages local first responders face when tackling training needs.
"This grant will allow us to help firefighters get this important training free of charge," he said.
The NAFTC first began its First Responder Safety Training program in 2005 and has been instrumental in the training of thousands of firefighters and other first responders since.
The project will provide curricula, training, and professional development to State Fire Academy personnel, which will help meet their training needs as they provide professional development and training to the firefighters they serve.
The training features a suite of modern technology products for electric drive (hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, and fuel cell electric), biofuels (biodiesel and ethanol), gaseous fuels (natural gas and propane), and hydrogen vehicles, including instructor manuals, presentations and other training materials, and participant manuals.