National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Keep your head on a swivel

Today's fire apparatus is bigger, heavier, handles smoother, and therefore it takes time to develop proficiency in driving and operation. Consequently, fire department training divisions develop unique and innovative means to assist drivers and operators with learning the dimensions and characteristics of the apparatus. From mnemonics to adjuncts, "tools" are created to assist drivers in mastering the operating parameters and features of the equipment. As this week's featured report describes, driver training exercises, and operations with new apparatus require the same level of attention as any other fire department operation where man and machine interact.

"Our F.D. recently took delivery of a new mid-mount tower ladder. During E.V.O.C. training with the ladder, a broom handle was zip-tied to the bucket of the tower and stuck out on the driver's side so during driving operations, the drivers can visualize how far back the bucket sits…a new driver jumped in the seat to place the apparatus at the starting point. The training captain moved a cone to allow the apparatus to pass. After the apparatus had passed and began its turn to move to the starting point, the training captain returned the cone and began to walk forward, not taking account for the bucket, which had not passed him yet. The captain was struck in the…"

Whether you are staying "in tune," or "situationally aware," or, as lacrosse players are told, "keeping your head on a swivel," this week's report presents another timely and well written submittal to improve firefighter safety. Reviewing this experience can better equip everyone involved in driver training with another reminder to ensure safety elements are in place to maximize learning and minimize risk. After you have the full report (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

1. When new apparatus arrives, does your department complete a "train the trainer" program with the manufacturer's representative, or are all members directly trained by the manufacturer's rep?
2. How many hours of driver/operator training are required for new apparatus delivered to your department?
3. When a new type of apparatus goes in service (e.g., first aerial, new pump, air service truck) is there a recertification requirement to ensure competence?
4. Is there a safety officer assigned to your department's training section?
5. Who monitors safety during your department's training activities?

Have a driver training near miss? How about an incident that was only a near miss because of a good driver training program? Submit your account to today so all drivers get their crews and equipment home tomorrow.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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