USFA Conducts Follow-On Meeting for Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative

Washington D.C. – The second meeting of the United States Fire Administration (USFA) “Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative” was held on August 22, 2002 in Kansas City, MO. Thirty-one subject matter experts attended the meeting, representing twenty-three national-level fire service organizations and allied Federal agencies.

“We’re pleased that we were able to hold this meeting in Kansas City, right before the Fire-Rescue International conference,” said R. David Paulison, U.S. Fire Administrator. “This enhanced experts’ attendance at the meeting, and enabled them to attend the conference to network and spread the word about Emergency Vehicle Safety and what needs to be done to improve it.”

The meeting was the second phase of the USFA’s project, which is intended to reduce the number of firefighters killed and injured while on duty. The Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative is a partnership effort of the USFA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the DOT/Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office.

Participants focused on prioritizing the recommendations to reduce firefighter fatalities identified at the National Forum on Emergency Vehicle Safety (the first phase of the project, held in June), and identifying and developing “best practices” based on mitigation techniques and technologies.

Recommendations discussed at the Kansas City meeting centered around three primary areas of concern: Legislation, Standards and SOPs; Training; and Technology. Specific recommendations included:

  • Develop model legislation for fire apparatus operators and civilians alike, based on information from the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances and the Model Uniform Traffic Code.
  • Develop model SOPs and enforcement criteria.
  • Develop model procedures for marking highway emergency scenes, based upon current standards and requirements (DOT, American National Standards Institute (ANSI), International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), etc.).
  • Encourage the use of reflective markings inside vehicle compartments and the interior aspect of vehicle doors.
  • Develop a layered (modular) training program that includes specific training for all levels of an organization on their responsibilities related to emergency vehicle safety. Modules would be developed for responders, driver/operators, company officers, and chief officers, as well as emergency vehicle technicians (mechanics), instructors, educators, and local government officials.
  • Develop and implement a legitimate proficiency testing process to assess the performance of drivers.
  • Develop a Certification/Re-certification Program as an extension of the layered training program and proficiency testing process. It could be based on the Commercial Drivers Licensing (CDL) process and should be similar to the Red-card program for Wildland certification.
  • Assess opportunities to expand use of traffic control devices to enhance responder safety.
  • Conduct research to assess the effectiveness of:
    1. orange or yellow seat belts
    2. seat belt extensions and brightly colored seat belt buckle receptors.
    3. seat belt lights at the officer’s position and above an occupied but unbelted seat.
    4. remote control exterior mirrors.
    5. lateral acceleration warning devices.
    6. vehicle visibility enhancements on apparatus.
    7. retro-reflective enhancements to Personal Protective Equipment, including traffic vests
  • Implement an awareness campaign to help motivate emergency service personnel about the seriousness of the emergency vehicle safety issues, and the need for change of behavior and attitude. This motivation must take place at all levels.

“Responding to or returning from incidents is the second leading cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities,” said Paulison. “It is our intent to identify ways to reduce those numbers.”

Further information about the National Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative may be found on the USFA web site at www.usfa.fema.gov/html/inside-usfa/vehicle.crm.

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