Hazardous Materials Training Program

California Specialized Training Institute

The California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) is considered the nation’s premier training venue in the area of hazardous materials response training and education. California’s requirements for Hazardous Materials Technician and Specialist certification are the highest in the nation, and CSTI’s comprehensive hazardous materials courses meet or exceed national training standards.

CSTI’s hazardous materials training facility at San Luis Obispo can replicate any scenario a responder may face in a real-world incident, and a system of certified field training facilities, owned and operated by local agencies, provides additional venues for first responders to train statewide.

CSTI is authorized under California Government Code §8574.20 (e) to provide a single coordinated standardized curriculum to train and certify hazardous materials outreach instructors. These individuals extend our training reach to provide training in CSTI’s certified curriculum to thousands of responders each year.

Hazardous Materials Outreach Forms, Curricula, and Support Material

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CSTI is now accredited by Pro Board®

In September 2019, CSTI became Pro Board® accredited for the following classes/levels:

  • Haz Mat First Responder Awareness (FRA)

  • Haz Mat First Responder Operations (FRO)

  • Haz Mat Incident Commander (IC)

The mission of Pro Board® is to establish an internationally recognized means of acknowledging professional achievement in the fire service and related fields. Pro Board® certification and placement on the National Registry provides an individual with credibility and a sense of accomplishment, and the certification is transferable between participating states & provinces. There are over 70 agencies accredited by the Pro Board® across North America and around the world.

CSTI Outreach Instructors now have a choice: they can teach the traditional CSTI FRA, FRO or IC courses and provide a CSTI certificate, or they can teach the Pro Board® version and each student will receive a CSTI certificate with a Pro Board® seal and their names will be placed on a national registry. Since State Fire Training (SFT) is also accredited through Pro Board®, SFT will recognize reciprocity for CSTI Pro Board® certificates.

For further information on how to teach a CSTI/Pro Board course through the CSTI Haz Mat Outreach program, please click to view the folder "Pro Board Certified Courses".

Can Pro Board Certification be Added to a CSTI Class Certificate?

It depends on when the CSTI class was taken:

​November 20, 2003 through March 12, 2013


​See below for more information

​March 13, 2013 through September 25, 2019


​CSTI was not Pro Board accredited during that time

September 26, 2019 through current date


​CSTI became reaccredited by Pro Board, and offers two versions of classes: CSTI certified or CSTI/Pro Board certified. If someone takes the "non-Pro Board" version, they cannot add Pro Board certification at a later date.

However, Pro Board "conversion" classes may be offered in the future. See below for more information.

Additional information:

​November 20, 2003 through March 12, 2013 - During this time, CSTI was a Pro Board accredited agency for the following CSTI Haz Mat courses: 

  • Haz Mat First Responder Awareness (FRA)

  • Haz Mat First Responder Operations (FRO)

  • Haz Mat Technician

  • Haz Mat Incident Commander

  • Haz Mat Industry Technician

If a person wants to add Pro Board certification for CSTI classes taken during that timeframe, they should email their request to the CSTI Haz Mat Outreach Coordinator at hmoutreach@caloes.ca.gov and include a copy of their CSTI certificate.

CSTI will process that person’s request, and they will then be emailed a Pro Board Application for Registration of Certification (Form COA-7). They need to complete the form, email it to Pro Board, and pay a fee of $17.50 per certificate to Pro Board.

​March 13, 2013 through September 25, 2019 - During this time CSTI was not Pro Board accredited, so any CSTI classes taken during that time are not eligible for Pro Board certification.

​September 26, 2019 through current date - During this time, CSTI became reaccredited by Pro Board, but only for the following levels:

  • First Responder Awareness (FRA)

  • First Responder Operations (FRO) (with Mission Specific PPE and Product Control)

  • Incident Commander (IC)

There are now two versions of each FRA, FRO or IC class offered through CSTI:

  • Class certified by CSTI


  • Class certified by CSTI and Pro Board®

If a person takes the "non-Pro Board" version, they cannot add Pro Board certification at a later date. That is because the two versions are different. The Pro Board version requires more class time and involves certification testing.

In the future, CSTI may offer separate "conversion" classes in which a CSTI certificate can be "converted" to a Pro Board version. These courses will:

  • Take into account the material that was previously taught in the CSTI certified course.

  • Add additional instruction to ensure all requisite knowledge and skill objectives are met, in accordance with the applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard.

  • Provide a cognitive examination and manipulative skills examination in accordance with the most recent applicable NFPA standard in order to test the job performance requirements (JPR)s.

Hazmat Refresher Training Requirements

Who, what, when and how.

California Emergency Management Agency (CalOES)

California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI)

Hazardous Materials Section

© 2013 CalOES/CSTI

The subject of refresher training for hazmat responders is frequently misunderstood. Although the applicable paragraph in the OSHA regulation is straight forward and clearly worded responders are often given conflicting and incorrect information.

This can lead to unnecessary or improper training—wasting scarce training dollars. This document seeks to explain this subject and give responders guidance on how to meet the refresher training requirement. If you have any questions or comments you can contact me at the phone number or email address listed below.

Vance Bennett, CalOES/CSTI



© 2013 CalOES/CSTI

Refresher Training—CalOSHA Hazwoper Regulation

The OSHA regulation on Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Hazwoper) is found in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulation §5192. This regulation addresses waste site cleanup, operations at treatment, storage and disposal facilities (TSDF) and emergency response.

This document discusses the requirements of Title 8 §5192(q), Emergency Response.

The regulation states: (8) Refresher training.

(A) Those employees who are trained in accordance with subsection (q)(6) of this section shall receive annual refresher training of sufficient content and duration to maintain their competencies, or shall demonstrate competency in those areas at least yearly.

(B) A statement shall be made of the training or competency; and if a statement of competency is made, the employer shall keep a record of the methodology used to demonstrate competency.

That’s it. Do it, document it.

This regulation doesn’t specify any minimum duration for this training. It doesn’t have any requirements for course content. It doesn’t even require a refresher class. And no, your certification doesn’t expire if you don’t get refresher training.

Refresher Training—OSHA Policy

There is a directive from OSHA that tells their compliance staff how to enforce this regulation. They also publish letters of interpretation that answer specific questions about the regulations.

The directive is CPL 02-02-073, Inspection Procedures for 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65, Paragraph (q): Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Releases. It “…updates policies and provides clarification to ensure uniform enforcement of paragraph (q) of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER), 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65, which covers emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard.” They have published several letters of interpretation on this subject in the past. Most have been incorporated into this directive.

 © 2013 CalOES/CSTI

CPL 02-02-073 provides the following guidance about refresher training for hazmat emergency response: (I’ve inserted comments after each paragraph. They are in italics.)

“Provisions for employee training must be incorporated into the ERP (Emergency Response Plan). This might include a general outline of the training to be completed for each of the various levels of emergency responders addressed in the ERP, or a reference to the location of the training manual. The plan should also address a schedule for required annual refresher training.” Your agency must have an official policy on how they will conduct refresher training.

“Time spent by emergency response employees reviewing incidents can be credited toward their refresher training requirements under 1910.120(q)(8).”

You don’t need a class! You need “training” and this is not just semantics. It’s an important distinction.

“Compliance Safety and Health Officers must evaluate the adequacy of emergency responder training…by interviewing the employer, employee representatives, and employees who may be involved in an emergency involving hazardous substances in order to determine their ability to perform their designated response roles and responsibilities.”

Yes, they will ask. If you can’t give adequate answers to these questions then press hard, four copies. (Tell this to your training person if they deny your request for refresher training.)

“OSHA's intent is that employees should complete their refresher training within twelve months of their initial training, although sometimes courses may be missed due to unavoidable circumstances. In such an event, employees should take the next available refresher training course. However, there should be a record in the employee's file indicating why the training has been delayed and when the training will be completed. If the employee has gone without refresher training for more than twelve months, the employer must evaluate whether the initial comprehensive training needs to be repeated.” You have to do it once a year. Your certification doesn’t expire if you don’t get the training.

© 2013 CalOES/CSTI

“Refresher training may be given in segments throughout the year so long as the required training has been completed by the employee's anniversary date. Time spent by emergency response employees reviewing incidents can also be credited toward their refresher training requirements.”

You have to do it once a year but you get to pick when you do it.

Reviewing past incidents counts as refresher training? Yes (i.e. you don’t need a “class”).

“The employer must have a "statement of training" or "statement of competency" for annual refresher training or competency for all employees trained in emergency response.”

The job’s not done until the paperwork’s finished!

OSHA published an interpretation letter after they issued CPL 02-02-073.

It says:

“It is important to note that training required under 1910.120(q) is dependent upon the anticipated duties and functions of the responder. Training and competencies must be consistent with each employee's anticipated role. For example, while the course topics you outlined could be suitable for operations level or HAZMAT technician refresher training, they may not provide proper refresher training for personnel assigned as incident commanders, i.e., individuals who assume control of the incident scene.”

What must your refresher training include? It depends. Depends on what? It depends on what you do. Can you attend a one-size-fitsall training session? No. It must be tailored to “…the anticipated duties and functions of the responder.” Generic refresher training won’t cut it.

Refresher Training—FAQ

What training do you need? It depends on what you do.

How often should you receive this training? Annually.

What must this training include? It depends on what you do.

Does OSHA require you to receive refresher training? Yes.

Do you need a “class?” No. (A 24-hour class? No.)

How long must the training be? It’s up to your employer.

© 2013 CalOES/CSTI
Refresher Training—Summary

Yes, you have to do it. How long it takes, when you do it and what

it must include are up to your employer. There is no requirement for

minimum hours nor is there a standard course. If anyone tells you

otherwise they are simply wrong.

An employer has four options for conducting refresher training.

1. Conduct formal refresher training (i.e. a class).

2. Document response activities (i.e demonstrate competency.)

3. Participate in exercises (i.e demonstrate competency.)

4. Review past incidents.

​Resource Links

Cal OES Fire & Rescue, Hazardous Materials Section
Local Emergency Planning Committee
Hazardous Materials Outreach Training Program

Codes and Regulations

Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response

Title 8 California Code of Regulations §5192

Hazardous Substances Emergency Response Training

 Government Code §8574.19


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