Thread: Driving skills

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    Default Driving skills

    Just a recent observation of headlines indicates to me, that we should probally review our driving skills.What are the requirements for your department to drive? What experience and knowledge nust one posses to drive? and now the one to start controversy What can be done to prevent accidents like the ones that occured on Los Angelos, and Pennsylvania?
    What is the IAFF,NVFC,IAFC, NFPA and others doing?
    Why are we losing more firefighters to vehicle accidents then to onscence activities?

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    Every 3 years every member must complete EVOC, both written and practical.

    Each member wishing to drive must complete a course designed for each apparatus that they want to drive.
    * Driver Operator Pumper
    * Driver Operator Aerial
    * Driver Operator Tanker
    * Driver ARFF

    Anyone involved in a accident of their own doing (Backing into somehting, etc,) is placed on a 3 month probation and during that time if any infraction occurs, then that Fiefighter can have their driving responsibilities taken away, along with points against their licence.

    To prevent further accidents, I think each person needs to really stop and think about arriving at the scene of the emergency, not how fast they can get there. Time is everything getting to an emergency, but creating a second emergency by out of control maneuvers, flying through intersections, trying to look cool to the pretty blonde on the side of the road, or the #1 reason, trying to be first on scene is creating a monster that will soon bight the FD by laws restricting how fast we drive and in what manner we do it in.

    All ready military installations have be enforcing the 10mph over the speed limit both on their PD and FD's during response.

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    What are the requirements for your department to drive? What experience and knowledge nust one posses to drive?
    One of the first things taught in my department is to drive the truck. As soon as a member is voted in, before even being issued a pager or gear, they can begin training on the trucks. The rookie will get in one of our trucks with one of the paid guys and be shown how to crank the truck and get it in gear. Then he needs 40 hours experiance behind the wheel. So every few days the new guy will show up and beg a paid man to ride with him so he can get some wheel time. We will take the truck out for a few hours and drive the streets. The newbie gets to learn the streets and the feel of the truck. The paid guy gets to be driven around and get car sick. (well, after a couple hours I do)
    There are a few straight aways where we can get the truck up to some realistic speeds and use the lights and sirens without panicing very many people. After 40 hours the Chief can sign the new guy off to drive all the trucks in the fleet, which IMHO sucks because he may have spent the entire 40 hours on only 2 or 3 trucks and not operated the other 3 or 4 trucks in our fleet. Also, this 40 hours doesn't include any pump operations. I would perfer a more realistic training program of 6 hours on EACH truck to include pump operations.
    After 40 hours and the Chief signing off this guy can respond to a page, without bunker gear, and pick up one of the trucks from any of our 3 stations and roll to a scene but once there have no idea how to get water out of the truck or how to hook up hoses to supply other trucks at the scene. Many fire departments teach BASIC fire skills before moving onto driving the trucks. The common rule is that if you pull up on scene in a truck you are responsible for getting it into operation. Our officers figure that as long as he gets the truck there someone else on scene can take over operation of the pump or other tasks.
    Everytime someone mentions how dangerous it is to be a firefighter I think of how we do things and I think, the fire is the least of my concerns lately, brother.

    Be Safe,
    Steve aka cellblock

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    This topic has always been amazing to me. If I drive a moving truck, dump truck or any other commercial vehicle over x pounds (varies state to state) or one that has air brakes, I am required to have a Commercial Drivers License. Most fire trucks weigh in significantly heavier that the CDL lower limit, are driven under more stressful conditions, yet require no CDL. In my opinion, this is bad policy. I understand not wanting to up training requirements more, but the front page of firehouse these days shows this problem needs to be addressed. I have a few questions to all of you I would like to hear answers to:

    1.) Does your state require an Emergency Vehicle endorsement on a license? We speak always about the blue light argument, and not to drag that one through the dirt again, but wouldn't requiring certain proficiencies clear that up? People are rightly concerned about the safety of it, so rather than providing volunteers a permit for their lights, license them on their use!

    2.) To any engineers, do you possess a CDL? Why or why not?

    The problems we see are far too often the results of drivers who are not accustomed to large vehicles. I mean no offense to those who are injured or killed operating the apparatus, as it is not their fault, and some are indeed well trained. But we have failed drivers as a whole I believe. As drivers, we should know how to properly compensate. the stopping distance of each vehicle, and its weight. I am just as guilty as the others, there is too much I do not know as a driver. How was I trained? Much like cellblock described, almost all I know were given the "here's the truck, this is the siren, now drive for 50 hours." I believe firefighting training is very regional, as styles are different- basic driving skills should not be.

    Sorry if I offended anyone, just something that always stumped me

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    We require a class B CDL with a tanker endorsement, also within your 1st year you have to be able to drive and pump our 4 first out trucks.This done by the training officer on each individual truck. Once a year we have a driver training program where we drive through cones, the serpentine, alley dock etc. and then we practice driving around town.

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    EVOC in VA is a joke. Class lasts a day and a half. My org spends a couple months precepting drivers after they get their EVOC cert.

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    Thumbs up Here Too..........

    Orangehopeful - Nothing to offend anyone in your remarks. In a Volunteer organization, there are jobs to be done, and not always enough qualified people to cover every slot on every call. Although I am a Chief, I end up driving when needed. I have a Class B CDL issued by the State of Maryland, and I have been driving Apparatus for 43 of my 46 years in the the Fire Service. I learned this business from my late Father, and, like him, I haven't broke anything yet. Several things are fueling the dramatic rise in accidents involving Public Safety Vehicles in recent years. 1. Faster, more responsive Apparatus. If you didn't yield quickly to our 1945 Mack, no big deal, we weren't catching up to you very fast anyway. Now, a few seconds to make a move, or there could be a problem. 2. Cars and Trucks have a lot more distraction built in. Soundproofing, Loud Pipes, (Flowmasters on my pickup, for example) Supersize Stereo, with bass stuff that sounds like a passing thunderstorm.And don't forget Cell Phones. 3. A whole thread, No, make that a whole forum, could be devoted to clueless drivers. When I went to high School, I took Drivers Ed. Because I had to. Period. Now, the school system does not have a Drivers ed program at all. You are on your own. The Commercial Driver Training Classes do not touch on Emergency Vehicles at all. We are contemplating going after legislation, or a rules change by the State Motor Vehicle Administration to REQUIRE training on how to react, and what to do when an emergency vehicle approaches, for Student Drivers. And don't forget that there are Insurance Industry studies that all reach the same conclusion, that 15% OF ALL DRIVERS TODAY ARE NOT CAPABLE OF DRIVING. Everyone knows a couple of folks that have two left feet, or are incapable of reacting quickly, or are unable to stay focused, or.... you get the idea.

    Apparatus Drivers are a different breed today, and that's our fault. Kids (no disrespect intended) want to drive, they are qualified on paper, so they begin with parking lot time, turning, backing, etc. My generation had driving time on Farm Trucks and other big vehicles, almost all of which had stick shifts. Now, you get Student Drivers who have never driven anything bigger than a Toyota. (Without the Lightbar) They've never seen, much less driven a stick shift. Most of them cannot back up using mirrors, I can't back up without a Mirror. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is Train, Train, Train. We have a good Training program, with multiple steps to go thru, to be cleared on each vehicle. So far, we're having a good record with it.
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    Mr. Woods is correct about the different drivving experience. I grew up working on my grandfathers farm....so I was driving dump trucks and stuff like that at 12 yrs old. Not much to hit in the middle of a field. I see a major difference when I train new drivers at the department....its second nature to me. For some who have never droe anything bigger than their Honda Civic, its intimidating.
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    Hwoods is dead on. I was fortunate enough to have a father who was a drivers ed teacher, so I was driving on a farm at age 14. I was pulling a 27' travel trailer on the interstate at 15 (with learners permit). Not quite the same as a fire engine, but I learned to look and plan ahead, and read traffic. I also ride a motorcycle and have learned to expect the other drivers to do the stupid thing. That's just survival.

    The biggest issue I see is drivers thinking that they have to race other companies in. I don't know how many times I've heard drivers say that they were in a hurry to beat company XYZ in. I've even had drivers tell me that they were not going to let me beat them in when I was coming from our sub-station. This was from one of our more experienced drivers. The only time I think about hurrying to beat someone in is when I'm waiting for others to show up. Once we start rolling, I'm too busy thinking about traffic, my route, where the hydrants are, and the other things I responsible for to worry about racing another piece in.

    As for our departments procedures, we require EVOC, Pump operators training, and a CDL. On top of that, the hardest part is the driving test given by our Chief Engineer. We require 6 months of driving on the smaller apparatus before you can start on the tanker or truck.

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    Default Re: Driving skills

    Originally posted by kjohn23
    and now the one to start controversy What can be done to prevent accidents like the ones that occured on Los Angelos, and Pennsylvania?
    hmmm, I'll start this controversy. first off, ALWAYS use a backer. ALWAYS. not just when you start driving, not just when you are on scenes, not just when you are backing up on a blind road. ALWAYS. and if you can't see your backer, you stop, and if you can't see your backer, then you need to stop the engine and not move again until he/she moves to a position where you can make direct eye contact with him. also, no more riding on the back step, especially when backing up. yes, we sometimes do it while pulling forward to pick up 5 inch hose, but in that case there really isn't much of a chance of being run over by the engine, and the engine is usually moving slower than 5mph. but never when backing up.

    As for CDLs, yes, I would agree that they are a good idea. In New Jersey, you do not need a CDL to drive a fire truck during emergency operations. however, you do need one for non-emergency driving (parades, trainings, returning from an alarm, etc)
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    Lightbulb Sudden Thought................

    Am I the only one to think part of the "Increase" in Accidents is not really an increase? With much better communication, including the Forums, accidents that were never heard of beyond the locale where they happened are now Nationwide News. Some years back, accidents happened and no one else knew? A possibility.
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    hwoods that is very possible, we know more of what is happening in the country.Still why are the same mistakes being made? Why are we backing vehicles with out a spotter? Is that the way we are teaching?
    Not at my academy, not even the instructors move a vehicle without a spotter.
    I do not think a 2 day EVOC class is egnough training it is a start.
    It should be drummed into our heads that training is never finished, training should be ongoing. I have been involved in the fire service for 20 plus years and still training as much as I can.

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    In my department your not allowed to drive or touch a truck till the end of your Proby period. For cadets/juniors that is 6 months and for people who are walk in or new applicants it is 12 months. After your PROBY period is up you will begin to train with either your company officer or a company MPO. I am on a engine company and the way it works is that once a week we have MPO training. Usually a bunch of guys come down and do hose training and you have to drive them to the field/park, hook the engine up, operate the pump, and drive it back under the supervision of a already certified officer/MPO. Now they teach you everyhting for many weeks and occassionally at other times take you out to parking lots or driving to get the feel of the truck. After that they have a pump and motor test where they have you drive for a little while and do some pumping at a company training and then they give you the OK. Then you are able to drive anytime for the company. There is no CDL required or anything for it here.
    Mike
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