Firefighters: Behind the Wheel
A skilled firefighter who drives a fire truck would have to be able to handle a 50,000 lbs. vehicle as it rounds a corner to get to its destination.
Fire trucks also tend to be 40 feet long or more. All that weight and length amounts to a heavy piece of equipment.
While many states would require someone who drives a truck as large as a fire truck to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), Emergency Services has often been exempt from such requirements. Are too many fire departments allowing untrained drivers behind the wheel? Perhaps fire departments could look to other sources for guidance on how to train their fire truck drivers.
The Commission of Accreditation on Ambulance Services (CAAS), NFPA and insurance providers can help Emergency Services understand their requirements for adequate driver training. It is a bad idea to allow an untrained driver behind the wheel of a fire truck.
Safe Driving Tips
VFIS Emergency Vehicle Driver Training program provides several tips for fire departments that want to develop driver training programs at their locations. Drivers will be prepared to handle emergency calls without the risk of more vehicle accidents while on duty.
Fire departments should understand the problem. From 1992 to 2011, ambulances were involved in an annual estimated mean of 4,500 motor vehicle traffic crashes. Choosing the drivers is also an important step. The driver needs to be someone with a great driving record and an acquired skill set through regular training.
Next, fire departments should create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for safety requirements and training schedules. Fire truck drivers need to know what is expected of them and how to maintain safety while driving in the truck.
Make sure that drivers get adequate sleep and understand the laws and regulations for emergency vehicle driving. Trucks also need to be maintenanced on a consistent basis.
By ensuring that drivers are adequately trained, fire departments can protect their firefighters from suffering vehicle accidents, property damage, injury, and death.