Safety 101 - Lesson 19

The National Volunteer Fire Council diligently worked with the United States Fire Administration and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation on a comprehensive program to enhance volunteer fire department emergency vehicle operational safety. With VFIS serving as project management, the initiative developed a series of "Best Practices in Emergency Vehicle Safe Operation". These "Best Practices" are actually quality improvement initiatives for your emergency service organization.

The 10 point program developed in this effort represents known practices, practical tools and techniques to create an approach that will help you manage risk and loss to which you are exposed.

The following chart "10 Best Practices in Emergency Vehicle Safe Operation" describes the key components of this program.

To assist you in the assessment and implementation of these Best Practices for your organization, the NVFC has created a comprehensive self-assessment tool, which will allow you to look at each of the Best Practices and their major sub-components, define them, determine if you have them in place, determine if they are effective, and if you need assistance, the assessment tool provides sources for you to research. This tool can be found at the NVFC website,, and look for the icon or Emergency Vehicle Safe Operations for Volunteer and Small Combination Emergency Service Organizations.

Within this project you will find:

  • Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle Safe Operations
    • Self Assessment Chart
  • Behavior Management/Motivation guidance
  • Standard Operating Guidelines for
    • Backing Apparatus
    • Collision Investigation
    • Driver Qualification
    • Drive Selection
    • Drug and Alcohol Policy
    • Emergency Vehicle Driver Training
    • Highway Safety
    • Incidents in Private Vehicles
    • Intersection Navigation
    • Limitations on Warning Devices
    • Motor Vehicle Record Check
    • On the Quiet Response
    • Priority Dispatching
    • Reflective Striping and Safety Vests
    • Regulatory and Statute Compliance
    • Routine Maintenance
    • Safe Driving Award Program
    • Seat Belt Policy
    • Speed Limitations
    • Traffic Preemption
    • Vehicle Design and Construction
    • Vehicle Inspection
    • Vehicle Safety Program Management

Similar to business fleet safety programs, this information is designed for you to modify your emergency service organization operations, as appropriate, to improve your organization's vehicle safety efforts. The components in this program represent "best practices" in areas of operation that have resulted in injury, death, property damage, and loss of use of equipment. It is representative of career, combination, and volunteer emergency service organizations.

The NVFC has posted the information for you to use. We encourage you to access the website and use it.

Lesson #19
"Best Practices" establish performance expectations, serve as benchmarks, and define quality improvement initiatives for your emergency service organization.

Safety 101 - A new series from the technical and administrative perspective, designed to help you reduce emergency responder injuries, illnesses, property loss and death!

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Dr. William F. Jenaway, CSP, CFO, CFPS is Executive Vice President of VFIS and has over 30 years experience in Safety and Risk Management, in the insurance industry. Bill is also an adjunct professor in Risk Analysis in the Graduate School at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He was named "Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year" as Chief of the King of Prussia, PA, Volunteer Fire Company, and is the author the text Emergency Service Risk Management.