Evaluating competence

Published:  01 January, 2009

At the cutting-edge of industrial fire training a systematic approach and some world-class facilities are required. With 35,000 students per year going through Falck Risc’s gates in Rotterdam, it must be doing something.

Rotterdam is a truly international city, and apart from having one of the largest ports, it also consists of a huge industrial area where every self-respecting oil, gas and chemical company owns facilities and storage complexes. It goes without saying that an area of this calibre requires a world-class training facility, and IFJ visited Falck Risc, based in Maasvlakte-Rotterdam in October, where it met marketing manager Richard Mildenberg. At the same time, the institute’s industrial training team demonstrated how this high-tech training facility stays at the cutting-edge of industrial fire training with its live fire simulators.

Falck Risc sees over 35,000 students from all over the world passing through its gates every year, and Mildenberg explains that the institute delivers competence-based training in four different areas, and these are offshore, maritime, public safety and industrial. All training courses are accredited by the leading industry associations such as NOGEPA (NL), OLF (NO), OPITO (UK) and around 200 people are employed on the facility in Maasvlakte-Rotterdam. Worldwide mother company Falck Nutec operates specialised training centres in over 12 countries.

The training location in Maasvlakte-Rotterdam covers an area of over 4.5 hectares, and the company has built a wide range of training simulators, ranging from process installations, large surface fires, a block of flats, ships, trains, trams, a motorway, offshore escape pods, to an ultra deep swimming pool for survival at sea training complete with a helicopter crash simulator.

According to Mildenberg it is quite a challenge to simulate a liquid fire in a realistic way. “To create the highest realism possible on the storage tank fire simulator we use a mixture of propane and white spirit to fuel the simulator, which creates the greatest resemblance to a running fuel fire, while limiting emissions into the environment.”

Environmental credentials are high on Falck Risc’s agenda, and the training centre has installed one of the most advanced fire water run off systems in Europe. The closed sewer system can handle up to 40,000 litres a minute, and the water gets treated in a settlement tank, where microbes break down the harmful substances in the fire water. The clean water is then recycled back into the installation.

It is very important, however, that the right training foam is used for the system to work properly, and Mildenberg recalls an occasion where a fire brigade which came to train at the facility brought its own foam, which killed all the microbes in the recycling system by accident. Luckily enough Falck Risc was able to restore the balance in the tank very soon after the incident by decreasing the foam solution in its training foam.

An emergency organisation can have up to four levels within its structure all of which can be trained and assessed at Falck Risc. This methodology ensures that for all levels of the incident organisation the correct capabilities are trained. Mildenberg explains that the Dutch government has set out national standards for competence, to which operational firefighters and officers of all levels are assessed. Falck Risc has developed a competence-based assessment system. This appraisal system enables the instructor to identify the competences of the firefighters during practical exercises. Certain learning goals outlined under the commission of the government have written scenarios attached to them to match the national standards for competence as closely as possible. This means that 90 per cent of the everyday situations can be carried out for training and assessments.

The core element of the assessment system is the way the competences of the student are evaluated and registered. All competences relating to a specific practice card are noted by qualified Falck Risc assessors. Each competence is judged as either sufficient, or ticked as requiring more attention. In this way all strong and weak points are highlighted and they are entered in the automated system. Subsequently the client receives a written report for each student including the general recommendations of the assessor and an easy-to-read graphical representation indicating their personal competences. This report can serve as the basis for a personal development plan on which the client can base further training for that employee. The criteria for the new competency-based exercises can be recorded and so used to measure performance and competency of every firefighter.

The company even has a dedicated Emergency Response Team (ERT) for maritime and offshore incidents, which consists of a group of Falck Risc instructors who are on call night and day. “This team of highly-skilled professionals can get anywhere in the world within 24-hours to assist with calamities or hazardous goods incidents. The team’s intervention can mean the difference between damage limitation control and a total loss.

In addition, the experience that team members gain during these incidents is used in the training sessions they deliver,” concludes Mildenberg.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Renka´s Fire Engine No. 1

Firefighting, fast, safe, everywhere. Michael Renka GmbH, based in Germany, is a manufacturer of firefighting vehicles, pumps and rescue equipment.

Waterax - We move water

Trusted by wildland firefighters around the world, WATERAX sets the industry standard by developing innovative, portable fire pumps and water-handling equipment designed to withstand demanding applications and rugged environments.

Big Water Flow for Industrial and Municipal Firefighting Applications

Protecting the lives of the public and firefighters while limiting the structural damage caused in large scale fires is our primary mission

We are committed to improving lives and doing business in the right way

We have a unique mix of capability and culture that we refer to as 3M Science and we strive to develop products that improve people’s daily lives in a multitude of ways.

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.