Motorsports Fire Safety

The recent Daytona fire and response makes this class very apropos. Instructor Carl J. Haddon centered this class around NFPA 610, Guide for Emergency and Safety Operations at Motorsports Venues

Haddon’s class centered around what NFPA 610 offers, and what it doesn’t offer. “NFPA 610 is a ‘guide’, as opposed to a ‘code’ or ‘standard,’ “ says Haddon. “NFPA 610 is a 68-page guide written for motorsports firefighters and for motorsports facility owners, race promoters, and management. The committee wrote this guide to assist facility owners, operators, promoters, and emergency management personnel in developing and implementing a system that provides for effective emergency operations at motorsports facilities and events.”

According to Haddon, NFPA 610 helps the aforementioned personnel to develop a “Plan” or “Plans” and offers suggestions for many things from Motorsports firefighters PPEs and firefighting equipment and agents to all levels of EMS and mass casualty preparedness planning forms. What NFPA can’t take into consideration is that race cars and motorcycles and boats and planes don’t always get the memo about what the “Plans” are, and what the “forms” say. Training for motorsports events is one of the most challenging assignments that a training officer will ever have.

“In structural firefighting, we typically have burn buildings and acquired structures to do live fire training in. In auto extrication, we can, in most areas, at least go to junkyards and create real extrication scenarios for training,” says Haddon. “In motorsports, it’s pretty much all on the job training, with vehicles travelling around you at a higher rate of speed than you see on the highways or freeways, and oh yeah, you traditionally have thousands, (if not millions, if covered by TV) watching (and criticizing) you work.”

“My class will cover the basics of NFPA 610, but will primarily focus on firefighter training for motorsports venues and events. Emphasis will be placed on things like: understanding that racing is a business and where we fit into that business, situational awareness, Lookouts, alternative firefighting/rescue tactics and agents, and expecting the unexpected and training for it. We will use the 2012 Daytona 500 incident and other notable racing incidents to critique.”

Haddon adds, “To the extent that I can in the time allotted, this will be an interactive class, where (hopefully) brother firefighters and instructors will not only learn from my 30 years of experience in motorsports safety, but will also learn from the experiences of other firefighters in the room.”

Haddon says he would like students to leave my class with a better understanding and a broader view of what’s required to stay alive, keep themselves and their crew safe, and a few more tips for how to do a great job while assigned at a racing facility.

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