I am looking for some input from person's outside my company on the Driver Training SOP that I am proposing to the body for adoption in two weeks. Please keep in mind that the current Driver Training Program is over ten years old, vague, and at most not even worth the paper it is printed on.
Some within the Company claim that SOP's like the one I am proposing will leave us with no drivers and eventually no volunteers at all. Regardless of what happens on the adoption of this or any future SOP I will firmly stand my ground and continue to try and bring my company out of the 1980's & and 90's.
The attached SOP is roughly six pages so if you have a few minutes please check it out and give me some input good or bad or even any questions. I have pretty much started from scratch on this one. From my stand point the days of joining and automatically the first thing you can do is drive are long gone.
The draft driver training program is a really good start. I agree, that someone shouldn't just join the company and the first thing you can do is drive. I feel that in it's current draft that the SOP would lead to a serious lack of drivers in the coming years, (just my opinion). Here is why I think that.
Upon acceptance to the program the candidate will need to provide proof of a current medical exam (physical) and also pass a hearing and eye sight exam and be found to be of good health, either by their personal doctor or one provided by the company.
This is a little extreme. Unless you are requiring a CDL for your company members, a physical and eye sight exam are not necessary. Most fire departments require a current drivers license. So what are you going to do if a member isn't in good health, are you going to kick them from the active roles just because they wanted to drive?
5.4.1 Utility 29
1. Five hours of drive time with an authorized instructor.
2. Satisfactory completion of a written exam on the apparatus and equipment.
3. Satisfactory completion of predetermined driving course.
4. Completion of EVOC if not already accomplished.
Is this Utility 29 a standard pickup truck or the same size. If so, does a person need 5 hours of blowing through fuel to say that they can drive a vehicle that any grandmother in the Commonwealth can just go to a lot and buy and drive. EVOC should be mandatory, only if the person is to run it with lights and sirens.
5.6 Driver/Operator Recertification
All certified drivers are required to become recertified annually for the vehicle/vehicles the driver is certified to drive. Throughout the year the operation of all company vehicles is documented by incident reports and activity reports. That time will be compiled per vehicle and must be equal to or greater than the required five hours per vehicle. The requirements to recertify will be based on the amount of time and performance in the previous year, but must be equal to the requirements of initial certification.
All company drivers are required to maintain current EVOC certification (within five years). Every two years there will be a driver’s exam issued by the current insurance carrier of the company which is a requirement to maintain status as a driver. All drivers are required to have an annual physical consisting of overall health, hearing, and eyesight. Recertification for the ensuing year may begin in November and must be completed annually by March thirty first to maintain certification. Upon completion of recertification a new drivers certification card will be issued to the driver and be valid until the end of the calendar year.
This just seems to be a little extreme, again the physical and eye site requirements. If your insurance carrier is really requiring all this certification, maybe it is time to find a new insurance carrier. Knowing how a few volunteer fire companies work, and the driving requirements of each, I'd say that your requirements are the most stringent I have seen for both volunteer or paid department.
Thanks for the input. I would have to agree that five hours is probably to much for a standard pick-up, and I will probably end up changing that to either one hour or even 1/2 an hour due to the fact that with lights and siren it is still technically an emergency vehicle. Lets face it there are people out there with a drivers licence that You wouldn't want to drive a bicycle.
As far as the physical; that was put in to eliminate an age limit and age discrimination. If you pass a general pre-employment type physical than you should be able to operate any of our trucks regardless of how old you are. It is not a requirement of the insurance company. Like I stated I put this in so as not to deter anyone who is older by setting an age of lets say 65 to drive a truck.
Asst 29... You have saved the training program using .docx as the format. I'm using a Mac, tried to download a converter but no luck. You need to save it as a word document that has a file that ends in .doc to enable anyone to download your draft program.
My only comment at this time is to get away from using the term Standard Operating Procedures. Instead, more folks are going to SOG's instead, or Standard Operating Guidlelines (SOG's). The SOG concept is less restrictive and easier to defend in court. Guidelines verses Procedures... Everything else is the same but you are not binding our company officers to absolutes. Just a thought... CB
1. Remember SOG or SOP's can be used against in you in court . Try avoiding the words procedures, and standards.
2. I would worry about any other firefighter being a "authorized trainer" . Stick with officers as authorized trainers and don't burden fellow co-firefighters with the responsibility of oversight.
3. 5 hours is a lot of time behind the wheel. Depending on your area be sure this is really appropriate
4. You make no distinction between driving and emergency driving which I find a little surprising
5. 18 yr olds can drive Utility 29 but you have to be 21 to drive anything else? That seems a little odd to me. Age and experience does have some merit but not sure it is that black and white.
6. Seems like you are requiring more than the state does to issue the license , ie physicals. I usually take the opposite approach if the state (the regulatory authority for issuing drivers licenses) doesn't require it then why should I
7. You definitely mix driving and operation together. This may be appropriate for your situation so that teh driver is competent when they get there but does it belong in the driving SOP?
8. Would a 20 yr veteran of another FD have to go through all of this if they were brought on board.
9. Something like this seems like a good thing but I would likely have 2 drivers left in my department if I required all of it.
Your suggestions are well taken. I understand what you are getting at with the whole SOP/SOG and at this point we currently have SOP's and as I take this for approval I will be looking to just have it called Driver Training Program. As far as the distinction between driving and emergency driving I did not want to include any specific driving regulations/rules as this is geared more towards driver training if that makes any sense. I will more than likely if this is adopted follow it with emergency driving regulations.
You raised a good point with the 20 year veteran and that was not even a thought and I will have to add something along those lines.
-Why require pump 2 and then an additional 5 hours of hands on for engine operator? Couldnt you get away with show proof of pump 2 certification and then just give a practical test on your training nite? pump 1 is 16 hours and so is pump 2 if they havent got the hang of it after a certified state instructor has taught them for 32 hours is the additional 5 really going to help?
-For the Rescue why does the operator need to be certified for BVR, they shouldn't be near the tools thats the crews job. Not that we do all right but our operators are required to stay near the truck to hand out tools and to turn on the motors for the preconnected tools. Instead of a tool operation test how about a tool location and what its used for test.
-try using a committee of trainers. we use 5 trainers and prosepctive operator has to have approval of three to get past the driving part. This would help elimante personal conflicts and/or a friend just helping him out because he's a nice guy.
-take your hours up. we specify 10 hours but the first 2 must be in a parking lot doing a version of the CDL skills test for backing, alley docks..etc. If they are going to scratch something you can bet it will be a cadiallac after a smells and bells call.
- which evoc a state certified test or one from your insurance company? VFIS teaches the exact same course as PA Fire Academy but is not state certified. Also watch because the PA dept of Health is proposing a 3 year rule for ambulances and squad operators so that becomes a new state standard for emergency drivers. Again this is for lawsuit purposes if the state standard becomes 3 years for EMS who generally drive in emergency mode more frequently than the FD why is yours more lenient-just something else to worry about!
- If you use multiple trainers develop a form for them to use to monitor the drivers you have. Require an unanounced evaluation of each operator up to 3 times a year. Any time a trainer is in the truck whether responding to a call or going to a parade when they get back to the station they fill out the form and turn it in to the chief. If no one knows when the form will be filled out they tend to drive more under control. You also gain the benefit of now having a paper trail to say that he has been evaluated on a consistent basis and documented good driving habits are much better than just driving the truck a couple of hours a year to calls.
-for expierenced operator just joining your department add a statement along the lines of " with a letter from their previous chief stating that they were an operator for x number of years, and proof of completion of required pump I and/or II are qualified to have a check ride with the trainers to become certified"
-might also consider that type of statement to waive driving hours for licensed and expierenced CDL driver. If someone applies with over 600,000 miles of expierence operating a vehicle 70 ft long and weighing near 80,000lbs I dont think it will take him long to adjust to a little old fire engine.
These are some the requirements for our department(doesnt mean the work for everyone or that they are perfect). If you make them to stringent to fast your members will rebel against them, so you might want to consider a defined phase in period-in two years from SOP/SOG going into effect all operators will be required to have an EVOC, that sort of thing. Good luck in the coming fight we have been doing this same thing for the last 18 months with by-laws and DOG's(Department Operating Guidelines) and some people have been kicking and screaming the whole way, but they do make the changes a little at a time.
Thanks for the reply. The reason for pump 2 and additional time is because of the fact that we utilize CAFS on the engine. I tried to make it a progressive training program which is were BVR fits in for the rescue. Yes the operator should be with the truck but the concept there is to try and achieve an overall team effect.
I was not aware of the proposal from the DOH. If that is the case I will definitely make a change with that. We will be using the state EVOC, VFIS is not our carrier. I have not developed any of the tests as of yet due to the fact of not knowing if anything will be adopted. I have a driving evaluation form though that I have gotten a few months ago and was planing on using them. Before I take this to the body for approval I am going to add a section for so called grandfathering of members coming from other companies as well as the members of our own that have been driving with no issues, and CDL licence holders.
My plans are to have this adopted but not to go into effect until Jan 1,2010 giving eight months for candidates to acquire the training. Which I am in the process of making available at our station. With the exception of a handful the companies current drivers have the required certs. Most just need a recent EVOC. I did not feel it would be right to require a certain class and not have it available for those who need it. I'm not trying to make it impossible to become a certified driver.