148th Fire Department Trains with Local Partners

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka
  • 148th Fighter Wing

The 148th Fighter Wing Fire Department and community partners took part in a Blue Card training program from Jan. 10-14, 2022. Blue Card is an incident command training system that trains fire department officers how to standardize incident operations on scene. The training is primarily for fire department officers, however, the terminology, tactics and strategies will affect the entire organization once implemented.

The Blue Card training program provides fire departments with a training and certification system that defines the best standard command practices for common, local, everyday strategic and tactical emergency operations conducted on National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) type four and five events. “This training and certification program produces Incident Commanders that make better decisions that will potentially eliminate the lethal and or costly mistakes that cause injury, death and unnecessary fire losses in the local response area,” said John Vance, Blue Card Lead Instructor.

One of the biggest advantages of Blue Card is that it teaches common operating language, so organizations who utilize Blue Card can seamlessly operate together on any incident. “The need to standardize incident operations is apparent in our region, training with our mutual aid partners is the first step in moving forward so all fire departments are on the same page when it comes to an emergency,” said Nick Downs, 148th Fighter Wing Fire Captain. The 148th Fighter Wing Fire Department hosted the event which was attended by Duluth Fire, Chanhassen Fire, Hibbing Fire, Cloquet Fire and Virginia Fire.

Blue Card follows NIMS guidelines and is endorsed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. When an incident is not set up correctly, the incident will drive the responders and this puts responders at a dangerous disadvantage. “It is important for quick and structured incident command to be set up so responders can guard against the incident driving them,” stated Vance.

A major objective of the Blue Card training program is for individual departments or regions to quickly manage the certification and evaluation program themselves, while customizing the system to the local topography, resource levels and Standard Operating Procedures. This allows users of the program to standardize command and communications.

Blue Card has been around for years, the idea to adopt and use the system in our region was brought forward by the Duluth Fire Department leadership. Blue Card training is about 40 hours on-line and an additional 40 hours of in class time consisting of both lecture and incident simulations. Blue Card was pioneered by Chief Alan Brunicini, formerly the Phoenix Arizona Fire Chief as a way to improve incident operation and firefighter safety.