In 2019, a team was assembled consisting of Cherokee County Fire Chiefs Thomas Capps, Chad Davis, Ryan McElwee, and Shane West to evaluate ways to improve the fire department’s incident command policies, procedures, and training with the goal to implement a standardized incident command system. Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, supported the team’s recommendation to implement Blue Card Command.
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 System (NIMS) Type 4 & Type 5 events. NIMS is a standardized approach to incident management developed by the United States Department of Homeland Security. The program was established in March 2004, in response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, issued by President George W. Bush. It is intended to facilitate coordination between all responders. A NIMS type 4 event is a minor incident that can usually be resolved within a day with onsite resources and support from other facility personnel. Type 5 events are small incidents that can usually be resolved in a few hours with onsite resources.
This training and certification program produce 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. The certification process requires successful completion of a 48-hour online program and 3-day simulation lab. Certifications are good for 3 years requiring 36 hours of continuing education.
Chief Kevin Lanier joined the team in 2020 to assist with the implementation of the Blue Card Command system. All team members attended training in Phoenix, Arizona, to become certified instructors.
The department also plans on providing all Chief Officers and Captains with Blue Card Command certification. All other certified firefighters will receive Blue Card training without certification.
The team of chiefs created the new Incident Command Training Center based on Chief Ryan McElwee’s vision of a dedicated location where the department could implement Blue Card Command training as well as permit personnel to use the facility year around to develop and improve their incident command skills. Cherokee Fire Station #6, located at 3396 Land Road, in the Clayton community was selected to be the location of the new Incident Command Center. Station 6 personnel, Fire Logistics, Fire-IT and Cherokee County Property Maintenance all joined the effort and were a crucial part in making the Command Training Center a success.
The Incident Command Training Center is designed to train personnel on how to manage structure fire incidents, motor vehicle accidents, mass casualty incidents, as well as Hazardous Material events as incident commanders (IC). The new center provides enough space to train up to 12 students per day engaged in class room instruction, group discussions, as well as simulation labs where students practice performing incident command skills.
All Blue Card Command simulation training will include initial certification and recertification. Plus, practice will be conducted at the command center, too.
Last Tuesday, Michael Davis, son of Battalion Chief, Chad Davis, was recognized for his efforts in creating what has become the prized center piece of the training center, a customized aerial style podium built for instructors to utilize during classroom instruction. Fire Chief Tim Prather, Assistant Chief, Eddie Robinson, Field Operations Chief, Shane West, Shift Commanders Kevin Lanier and Ryan McElwee, Battalion Chiefs Thomas Capps and Chad Davis, Station 6 Commander Captain Donnie Arp and Captain Nathan Roper were in attendance.
Michael attended the structural plate and pipe welding program at Georgia Trade School in Acworth, Georgia. According to Michael’s dad, Chad, “The Incident Command Center instructors agreed that a podium similar to the one located at the fire training center in Holly Springs which is designed to look like an aerial ladder was the style that would best fit the Incident Command Training Center. I discussed the project with my son and he wanted to help. The ladder was upcycled from an out of service ladder, Michael and I built the base and front from plywood. Burning the wood with a torch was the first step of the finishing process. FAO Marc Burger, Station 20 A-Shift, sanded and applied the finish to the wood. Michael designed and began building the podium from photographs I had sent him. Plus, he sent me photos of the project on a daily basis.”
Field Operations Chief Shane West thanked everyone for gathering to officially recognize and thank Michael for his contribution to our Incident Command Training Center. Chief West said “Michael, we want to thank you for accepting our podium as your class project. The results are remarkable and it’s perfect”. Fire Chief Tim Prather thanked Michael and added, “Because of your hard work, you are part of this command training center and will be from now on.”
West went on to say that the training center project could not have pulled off without the support of the Fire Administration and assistance from Fire Logistics, Fire Information Technology (IT), Cherokee County Property Maintenance, and several others,” added West.
Battalion Chief Thomas Capps also thanked all of the personnel at Station 6 for their assistance with putting the training center together.