Courses prepare Soldiers for future; provide skills, professional credentialing
August 7, 2014
The U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School on Fort Leonard Wood has received their re-accreditation through the International Fire Services Accreditation Congress in accordance to the 2013 National Fire Protection Association standards.
Partnering with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., the CBRN School received its initial accreditation for their hazardous materials awareness, operations and technician classes in 2007.
"At first, it was focused toward the firefighter HAZMAT. But in 2010, they allowed us to go on our own to develop our test materials, which then allowed us to restructure our content," said Barbara Kilthau, Education and Training Execution director. "Now, the focus is on Army training as opposed to a firefighter."
Kilthau said, in the beginning they were dealing with approximately 400 students and now have an annual course load of more than 4,000.
"Army training is structured and standardized for a reason. What one Soldier receives, another Soldier who comes behind him a year later should have the same standard of training," Kilthau said. "This is just another layer of standards that we meet."
Peter Schulze, USACBRN School deputy assistant commandant, said having the IFSAC accreditation demonstrates a recognized level of professionalism and competence in the ability of CBRN Soldiers and leaders.
"Being accredited by IFSAC adds another dimension of quality that is recognized internationally," Schulze said. "For the school, it adds credibility as an accredited institution. For the student, they receive a certificate/seal that is recognized by the emergency services community."
Keeping in line with the Soldier for Life program, the school is helping Soldiers prepare for their futures, whether they continue their military career or separate from the service, by giving them skills and credentials that will transfer to the civilian sector.
"This and future CBRN School certification programs support the Assistant Secretary of the Army's Manpower and Reserve Affairs ASA memo authorizing and encouraging 'the Army to conduct programs for professional credentialing of Soldiers,'" Schulze said.
The accreditation team evaluated eight areas of the program to grant the reaccreditation for the awareness, operations core, personal protective equipment, technician and incident command levels of HAZMAT certifications.
"When the team came out, we were found to have no deficiencies in any of the eight criteria areas," Kilthau said. "It just solidifies for you everything that you've done with all that is going on. It was pretty much an incredible feat."
The eight criteria are certification program administration, general administration of written and skills testing, written test banks, written/skills test grading, test security, test proctors/evaluators, written tests and skills tests.
Kilthau said the school also received the Institution of Excellence accreditation through TRADOC.
"The biggest thing for us is having these people come from the outside and look at you," Kilthau said. "You can sit there day by day, and it becomes such a routine. But, when somebody from the outside validates 'yeah, you're doing it right, and you're making a difference,' that's a good thing -- I welcome it."