Assessment of confined space entry and rescue training for aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) members in the United States. Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION: Fire and emergency service workers, including Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting members, may be called on to perform confined space entry and rescue operations. The purpose of the present study was to develop a comprehensive and valid understanding of the present state of confined space entry and rescue training effectiveness and resultant compliance or use of best practices among trained Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting personnel. METHOD: The study used a convergent, parallel mixed-methods approach. Qualitative data (n=20) were collected via semi-structured interviews at four locations. Data were coded, analyzed and super-ordinate and sub-ordinate themes were derived. Quantitative data (n=158) from Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting members were analyzed. RESULTS: Interviewees believed there is a lack of standardization in training, but believed training should not be completed in the same format every time. Several participants (50%) desired more realistic training. Other concerns were associated with staffing, personal readiness, and resource adequacy. With regard to survey outcomes, most respondents reported that their organizations completed confined space training (69.8%), but only 55.3% indicated this training was conducted as a full-scale exercise and nearly 40% indicated that rescue practice was not performed despite standards mandating annual rescue practice. Following training, 55.4% indicated training evaluation information was not presented. CONCLUSIONS: Participants mostly agreed their training effectively addressed OSHA requirements, such as how to test the atmosphere, the need for and use of personal protective equipment, how to identify pertinent permit information and methods to retrieve victims in limited space. Some gaps exist between current training practices and established training requirements and standards. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting organizations need to bolster aspects of their training, particularly with regard to standardizing training efforts, practicing rescues, providing evaluation feedback and written materials and providing adequate resources.

published proceedings

  • J Safety Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, T. D., Herron, R., Le, A., Wilson, J. K., Marion, J., & Vicenzi, D. A.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Smith, Todd D||Herron, Rene||Le, Aurora||Wilson, John Keith||Marion, James||Vicenzi, Dennis A

publication date

  • December 2018