The cab of the engine with SCBA properly installed and no loose equipment.
While everyone is probably well into working on their New Year’s resolutions, I for one have given up making any. Number one, they only last maybe about a month for me. Number two, most are probably unrealistic. However, I try to set some goals on what I want to accomplish for the year. If you are a fire officer or chief officer, you might want to establish some goals also. Especially when it comes to apparatus safety.
To start with, you might want to update your standard operating procedures or guidelines, which hopefully you already have in place. If not, I strongly suggest you start planning to write some.
Not to sound like a broken record but seat belt usage should be a number one goal for all members. Also, having an apparatus backing procedure in place with proper spotters at all times, having your firefighters wear reflective vests at accident scenes, proper scene lighting, and apparatus blocking at incident scenes, etc.
One of the biggest areas of concerns that I hear around the country is driver selection and qualification. Try to put into place a driver qualification program. While some states require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to driver an apparatus, just as many do not.
If your department is a volunteer department hopefully your county has a driver training program with EVOC, send as many people as you possibly can. If not, develop your own in-house program with records kept and hours of training. Develop a driver training committee. Maybe one of your members who has a CDL could help you out with training. The course should include but not be limited to so many hours for on road driving, pump or aerial operation, emergency response, backing procedures, etc.
Driver selection is another area of concern in volunteer fire departments. Do you let an 18-year-old firefighter who maybe only has two years driving experience driving a POV get behind a multiton fire apparatus or do you make the age 21?
Having your department’s insurance company perform motor vehicle report checks on all drivers no matter what age at least annually would also help. It would enable you to see what type of drivers they really are away from your apparatus.
Adaptive response is an idea that has been picking up speed around the country. Basically, you predetermine the type of response your drivers perform before they leave the fire station. Every alarm does not need a code 3 response, including automatic alarms, wires down, flooding conditions, a chief on the scene reports everything is under control, and other types of minor incidents. This can always be changed if conditions prevail and ordered by a chief officer on scene.
Remember to slow down and stop at intersections at all times. You can never determine how another driver on the road will react when you approach with red lights and siren.
Make sure all your equipment is secured on your apparatus. Especially in the cab where radios, handlights, thermal imaging cameras, and in some cases tools are kept.
Finally, have a good apparatus maintenance program performed by a qualified EVT if possible with proper records kept and maintained. Perform the maintenance in accordance with manufacturers specs.
I hope I have given you some food for thought. If you have all of the items these in place, great. If not, it’s time to get to work.
Let’s make 2017 a safer year for all firefighters around the country.