Vehicle Rescue Instructor Safety Guidelines - Part 3

SUBJECT: Safety During Vehicle Rescue Practical Skills Training
TOPIC: Implementing Safety Guidelines for Practical Skills Vehicle Rescue Training
OBJECTIVE: Develop and implement safety guidelines that address applicable NFPA standards for use when conducting practical skills vehicle rescue training sessions.
TASK: Develop and implement comprehensive safety guidelines for conducting practical skills vehicle rescue training using the sample guidelines and checklist presented in this series of articles.

Safety Officer

  • Identification to the participants of the assigned Safety Officer(s) who is readily identifiable at vehicle rescue training exercise.

The assigned Safety Officer is responsible for maintaining a safe working environment at all times before, during and after the practical skills session. The Safety Officer(s) has the final authority in any matters relating to safety of personnel, vehicle rescue tools and equipment, and the acquired vehicles.

Safety Officer(s) will position themselves so that they can observe as much of the activity taking place within the training as possible. The Safety Officer(s) will not be assigned other duties that may distract them from fulfilling their assigned safety responsibilities.

Manufacturer recommended safety practices for specific rescue tools and equipment shall be adhered to while being used at any vehicle extrication session. Use of tools beyond their normal recommended operating capabilities or in an unsafe manner will not be permitted under any circumstances.

  • The command word "stop" will be used by any team member, safety officer or training instructor if the need arises to immediately halt any actions due to a safety concern. The stop command immediately halts all activities inside the hot zone when a condition is observed that does or could potentially endanger any personnel inside or outside the hot zone. Once the stop command is used, the hazard or safety concern must be corrected before further training activities take place.
  • When an acquired vehicle is placed in a side or roof-resting position, the Lead Instructor shall explain any additional safety precautions that must be taken by participants when working in, on or near this vehicle.
  • The Safety Officer shall inspect any vehicle in a position other than on its wheels on a level surface prior to its use and shall determine that no unusual risks or safety concerns are present.
  • When teams are working with side or roof-resting vehicles, one Safety Officer shall be stationed at one end of the vehicle to monitor any unexpected movement of the vehicle. A pre-established danger or evacuation signal will be known to all participants working in, on or near this vehicle.

Safety Equipment

  • Identification of and instruction in proper use of safety equipment for safe and effective operations at vehicle rescue training exercise documented.

The Lead Instructor will determine the amount of safety equipment needed, including fire extinguishing capabilities, emergency medical supplies and personnel.

Mayday Signal

  • Description of how to report that a true emergency exists understood by all participants and documented.

The word "Mayday" will be used by any team member, safety officer or training instructor if the need arises to notify participants that a true emergency situation or condition exists. The Mayday report immediately halts all activities inside all zones on the training ground. Once the Mayday call is given, the Lead Instructor shall be notified and an appropriate response to the emergency shall be initiated. After a Mayday report, only the Lead Instructor can authorize that any further training activity can take place.

  • Description of the designated standard operating signal and procedure to immediately evacuate members from the training area hot zone.
  • Description and demonstration of the process to account for the safety of all participants when an imminent hazard condition has been discovered and an evacuation declared.

Equipment Accountability

  • Description of procedures required for inventory control and accountability of all tools and equipment.

Personal Protective Clothing

Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used by all participants, the Safety Officer(s), Lead Instructor and support instructional personnel while training evolutions are in progress. Agency guidelines shall determine the criteria for level of protection required. Appropriate PPE is determined by agency guidelines, but must include requirement for helmet, eye protection, gloves, upper and lower body protection, and protective footwear for all participants. The use of respiratory dust masks is recommended during tasks such as laminated glass-cutting assignments.

Description of protective clothing and equipment appropriate to the tasks expected to be performed during vehicle rescue training exercise. The following personal protective clothing and equipment is required for each individual participating in the hands-on practical rescue evolutions:

  • Head protection. Fire department helmet or OSHA-compliant industrial-style hardhat.
  • Eye protection. Eye protection must consist of OSHA-compliant safety glasses or goggles with side shields. NO flip-down helmet face shield can be used alone as eye protection. Safety goggles or glasses must be donned by all participants when within the hot zone.
  • Body protection. Fire department-style turnout coat with bunker pants. Wildland brush-style jacket, long-sleeved coveralls or jumpsuit can be acceptable in lieu of structural turnout coat if this level of protection complies with departmental protocols.
  • Foot protection. Fire department boot or steel-toed work boots used with bunker pants. Steel-toed high-topped work boots are acceptable in lieu of rubber firefighting boots when used with bunker pants.
  • Hand protection. Structural firefighting gloves are acceptable. Leather-palmed work gloves are acceptable. The new generation of extrication gloves available from several manufacturers are also permitted.
  • Hearing protection. Hearing protection should be available for use by all participants. Typically, a box of disposable ear plugs is provided by the host agency. It can also be the responsibility of the individual participant to obtain adequate hearing protection.

All participants or observers will be inspected by the Safety Officer or Lead Instructor for compliance prior to beginning any practical session.

  • Demonstration of the care, use, inspection, maintenance and limitations of any and all protective clothing and equipment assigned or available for use documented.
  • Explanation of requirements that all personnel wear and use appropriate personal protective equipment while working in known or suspected hazardous areas during technical rescue training exercises documented.
  • Standby EMS Resources
  • Identification of EMS Sector location documented.
  • Confirmation of presence of medically certified personnel with appropriate equipment standing by at the training exercise in the event of medical emergency to participating personnel.
  • Medical capabilities must be on site and immediately available to handle any injuries. Any and all injuries to participants while taking part in the practical training should be quickly attended to. Written reports will be made on all injuries and on all medical aid rendered.

Ronald E. Moore, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is the Forum Moderator of the University of Extrication section of the website. Send your extrication questions or concerns to Ron directly at Answers are posted on the U/E Message Center of