If you have been providing rescue services within the fire service industry for any amount of time, you have probably heard someone turn down a training opportunity by saying, “No, I won’t be there. I already took that class.” Perhaps maybe you have even said those words. I have personally heard them many times and they are some of the scariest words I have heard, especially in the context of technical rescue training.

Technical rescue skills are extremely perishable, and no two real-world incidents are alike. Continuous training, even if it is doing things “you’ve done before,” is critically important to maintain those skills and build up your experience level. Short of responding to real-world incidents, taking and retaking classes is one of the best ways you can develop as a technical rescuer. There are also countless ways to accomplish any given task, so learning from the perspective of different instructors can be invaluable.

But don’t just take it from me, check out what some NFPA standards say about continuous training.

NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health, and Wellness Program (2021)

Chapter 5.3.3

“Members shall practice assigned skill sets on a regular basis but not less than annually.”

Chapter 5.5.1

“The fire department shall develop a recurring proficiency cycle with the goal of preventing skill degradation and potential for injury and death of members.”

Chapter 5.5.3

“The fire department shall provide an annual skills check to verify minimum professional qualifications of its members.”

NFPA 1006 Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications (2021)

Chapter 1.2.7

“Technical rescue personnel shall remain current with technical rescue practices and applicable standards and shall demonstrate competency on an annual basis.”

NFPA 1670 Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents (2017)


“The AHJ shall provide for the continuing education necessary to maintain all requirements of the organization's identified level of capability.”


“An annual performance evaluation of the organization based on requirements of this standard shall be performed.”

What about the rescuers that are not fire service-based? Many other national standards also state annual training and/or skill verification is required. For example, OSHA and ANSI require them for private industry rescuers providing confined space and fall protection rescue services.

Please contact me if you or your agency needs formal refresher training or an annual skills evaluation conducted by an independent, objective evaluator! Stay safe,

Bill Elder
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC