Online Vehicle Safety Program
By Bob Vaccaro
By now, all of us in the fire service have heard or read about the various safety initiatives that have been taking place all around the country. Whether it be the Near Miss Reporting System, the Firefighter Safety Initiatives, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), IAFC, IAFF, National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), FirefighterCloseCalls.com, ResponderSafety.com or apparatus manufacturers, all have one common goal: to prevent firefighter injuries — not only on the fireground, but also while in transit to and from alarms. Crashes involving privately owned vehicles responding to and returning from emergencies is now the leading cause of volunteer firefighter on duty fatalities, according to the USFA.
One excellent program that I recently came across is an online training program that was produced by the USFA and the NVFC. It is entitled "Emergency Vehicle Safe Operations for Volunteer and Small Combination Emergency Service Organizations."
What does this have to do with fire apparatus and my column? Plenty! I have always been an advocate of safe driver training when it comes to fire apparatus as well as the proper and safe design of vehicles. This program covers both aspects and much more.
The site allows you to download self assessment charts, and gives you sample SOPs for a myriad fire apparatus topics, such as vehicle design and construction, vehicle inspection, routine maintenance, limitations of warning devices, seatbelt policies, traffic preemption, intersection navigation, and about 20 other topics.
It encourages you to consider key points when developing your own individual SOPs. It was not meant to just have you copy all of the SOPs as written. As you all know, you must customize to your own response district. This program gives you all of the basic background that you need as a chief fire officer to train your members in driver training and the overall safe operation of your emergency vehicles.
The Web site also comes with a built-in PowerPoint presentation that gives you behavioral management and motivational objectives to set up your own programs. Another beneficial feature of the program is that it cites the proper NFPA standard covering the area of safety under review. It really takes the agony out of researching all of the necessary information and puts it right in front of you.
If setting up a safer driver training or vehicle operation program is a priority for your department — and it should be — then take a look at the National Volunteer Fire Council's site and get started. www.NVFC.org