Web-Based Fire Safety Training for Board and Care Staff

Period of Performance: 05/01/2008 - 04/30/2010

$203K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Harrington Software Associates
Warrenton, VA 20186
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The purpose of the proposed research is to reduce the incidence of fire-related deaths and injuries in board and care facilities for the elderly through the development and distribution of a comprehensive and validated web-based training program. Older adults in small residential board and care facilities are at a particularly high risk of fire death and injury because of their characteristics (decreased mobility, dementia, high medication use, sensory losses, and weaker respiratory systems) and environment (residents outnumber the staff; lack of sophisticated fire protection systems, and lack of staff training). Training is critical for owners, operators, and staff of small residential board and care facilities because they are responsible for all facets of fire protection, including inspecting for hazards, buying/testing/maintaining fire protection equipment, developing a fire emergency plan, interacting with the fire inspector and training residents. However, traveling to off-site locations for training is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive because it requires leaving the residents with back-up caregivers. Web technology is currently underutilized despite the great promise that it offers and the enormous need for training that exists. Web-based training can reduce many of the existing barriers for delivering training, allowing providers to complete the program at their own facilities to receive continuing education credits from their state licensing agencies. A comprehensive, interactive web-based fire safety training program will give caregivers the knowledge and skills they need to prevent a fire and to respond correctly in a fire emergency. The program will include interaction, animation, video, graphics and narration to create a media-rich learning environment. The Phase I pilot study demonstrated the effectiveness of a prototype web-based training module on the topic of fire emergency planning. Study participants who completed the training significantly improved their scores from pre- to posttest when compared to a control group. Participants indicated on the course evaluation that the computers were easy to use for training (97%) and that they would like to use computers for future training courses (97%). Phase II will expand the research to include the development of two new web-based training modules on the topics of identifying and eliminating fire hazards and installing, testing, and maintaining fire safety devices. Researchers will evaluate the program in a national field test. This proposed project supports the National Institute on Aging's mission "to improve the health and well- being of older Americans". Considering the risk of fire death and injury, the research is critically important to residents, facility owners, and staff. Older adults in small residential board and care facilities are at a particularly high risk of fire death and injury. This project will seek to reduce the incidence of fire-related deaths and injuries through the development and distribution of a comprehensive and validated web-based training program.