Go fast and make a lot of noise so the public thinks you are doing your job. That type of thinking, however, doesn't cut it any more. You might have taken the time to read any of Mike Wilbur's columns on Emergency Vehicle Operations, you may have seen a picture of an overturned fire truck in your local newspaper (we have many on hand) or you may have heard about an accident involving a fire apparatus or chief's car. If so, you should have figured out there is a problem.
Arrive alive. Return home the same way you left. These are some of the slogans we've used to raise awareness about a serious problem. You can't do anyone, including your family, fellow firefighters or the public, any good if you don't arrive at the scene. I read recently that the sirens we use on emergency apparatus are good for only 250 feet. How many car commercials have you seen that tout the quietness of the ride? Add the radio, CD player, the driver wearing headphones and a driver talking on a cell phone, and the public doesn't hear us.
Mike Wilbur and others have stressed that seatbelts, whether they are user friendly or not, are your best way to survive an accident while responding to an alarm; see page 94 for Mike's Emergency Vehicle Operations column. Not perfect by any means with the gear we have to wear and equipment we have to or choose to carry, seatbelts are now being examined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Considerable time and money will be spent to examine the problem of crew cabs and seatbelts in protecting firefighters. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) wants to reduce firefighter deaths. Try putting on the seatbelt on your next response. We will keep you updated on the important seatbelt issue.
Two years ago at a Firehouse Expo seminar, Mike Wilbur was reviewing photos of recent fire truck accidents when the driver of a truck involved in the crash he was showing on the screen asked whether Mike and the audience would like to hear the story first hand. We present his account in Forum, starting on page 14. Anyone who drives a rig or rides on a rig should read it. Similarly, Mike Smith reflects on apparatus safety in his Stay Safe! column on page 50.
Also this month, we present the latest in new apparatus features and designs in our annual Apparatus Showcase, which begins on page 58.