Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chemical Security Academy

A little over a month ago one of my readers asked me if I had heard of the Chemical Security Academy. He had heard that this was the training program that all of the CFATS inspectors had to go through. I had only heard of the name (and I cannot even recall the context). I started checking around and yesterday got a nice email from Sue Armstrong at the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division at DHS. She provided a very nice outline of the program.

Trained and Certified Inspectors 

According to Ms Armstrong the purpose of the training is to produce “a trained and certified cadre of Inspectors who are conversant in CFATS and their authorities, familiar with the chemical industry, processes, and safety issues while onsite, and who are ready to assist industry in complying with CFATS, including support for Site Security Plan (SSP) development.”

Inspectors fitting this description should be a welcome addition to the DHS family and should be well equipped to fulfill their rolls at high-risk chemical facilities. Since there is really no pool of qualified chemical facility security personnel for DHS to pull from, they have had to hire people with a wide variety of backgrounds.

They have pulled a variety of people with security backgrounds from DHS (ICE, FSPS, TSA, Secret Service) and other agencies. They have also added to this mix a variety of personnel with experience in and around high-risk chemical facilities, including chemical manufacturing, emergency responders, hazmat responders, and agriculture. This mix of backgrounds, combined with the extensive training program should provide a well rounded inspection force.

Training Program Ms Armstrong describes a rather extensive training program for these inspectors. It starts by bringing all prospective inspectors up to speed on general physical security procedures. This is done by sending them to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to attend the Federal Protective Service’s Physical Security Academy. Here they should learn the basics of physical security; how to use video surveillance and detection devices, the use of barriers and fences to control access, the role of security personnel, and the coordination with first responders and emergency response personnel.

Once they have completed this basic background development they begin to learn about chemical facilities and their security. In twelve weeks of classroom, hands-on, and on-site training they gain familiarity with, among other things:
CFATS Physical Security - Basic Physical Security – CFATS Specific Other Federal Regulatory Programs - Familiarization HAZMAT Certification HAZMAT Research and Emergency Services Familiarization Chemical Facility and Chemical Operations Familiarization Safety and Personal Protective Equipment
Moving Forward 

While everyone will have ideas for additional training and information that might make these inspectors more professional there is only a finite amount of time available. Further, the first official inspections have not yet happened so no one really has a good handle on how this process is going to work on the ground.

As the inspections begin the inspectors will gain experience at working at the wide variety of facilities that have been declared to be high-risk chemical facilities. The lessons learned from these inspections, not just the results, need to be analyzed. That analysis will need to be fed back into the training development process to keep this inspection force well trained and effective.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Personally I am really getting to like your blog. :)

Imagine adding the IST component into the laundry list of duties and skills to the already "green" inspectors, no pun intended. I guess the real test is coming soon with Site Security Plans.

Of initial 2008, 156 FTE:
95 have been hired/are on board
(45 are Area Commanders/Inspectors; 50 HQ)
2009 hiring adds Inspectors to total of 223 FTE (149 Area Commanders/Inspectors and support in field/74 HQ)

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