i was talking to my fire chief today and he was telling me that the state is going to pass a law in june about makeing evoc mandatory for all driver/operators. now heres the kicker  traditionally its been an 8 hour class room fallowed by 8 hours in the field and you good to go, but now it you have to have 8 hours in each truck you drive with a state certified instructor rideing with you.

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Good for Maine!

The Savannah Fire Department puts all new Firefighter through EVOC in the Fire Academy, including the skid table at the Police academy.

I believe that all volunteers should have EVOC before they are permitted to respond to calls, either driving the Rig, or driving their POV, because whether you have a flashing light or not, when you are responding to a an official dispatch you are driving in an official capacity to an emergency.

Volunteer Firefighters shouldn't "be permitted" to having flashing warning lights (blue or red depending on the state). They should be REQUIRED to have flashing lights if they respond to Emergency Dispatches in their POV (whether it's to the station, or to the scene, it's still emergency vehicle operation).

The trouble is that most departments think of flashing warning lights as some kind of "privelege" and not as a tool to make transitting to the emergency, or station, safer for both operator and other drivers on the road, so nobody ever trains Firefighters how to safely drive when using the flashing light and siren.

The same holds true in many VFDs when it comes to large vehicle operations. 8 hours of driver training is worthless when the tones drop if all of your driver training time was under normal traffic conditions. Once you're dispatched to an emergency which warrants a "hot response" (with lights and siren), it becomes Emergency Vehicle Operation. Of those 8-hours per vehicle, the last two hours should be "under emergency conditions," meaning with lights and sirens on the road (even a closed road if you can't do it on public roads), in the Army we would call this type of training "rehearsals."

Eight hours per vehicle? Absolutely! Every vehicle is different and it takes time to get to know each one. Think about the last time you rented a car, how long did it take to get the feel for it and know where all of the controls were, if it was a different make than you normally drive it probably took a few minutes. Now multiply that by the size of a fire engine, or tower truck, and add the stress of responding to an emergency dispatch, and possibly doing it at 0200. You just don't have the time or the latitude to figure it out as you're responding to a call.

Why do drivers get excited and make poor decisions while driving en-route to a call? Why do they think they can drive faster than they safely can? Why do some think that whoopy lights give them license to blow through stop signs? The answer is that driving with lights and sirens is exciting, and for most, something which doesn't happen often enough to become routine - it's like the Love Boat "exciting and new." Think about the first few calls you ran, and how "amp'd" you were after the call...your first Fire call, your first big wreck, etc... that is adrenaline and it temporarily lowers your ability to make good decisions, so you have to overcome the adrenaline response through training and repetition...just like everything else we do in firefighting. Remember Size-up begins with the dispatch, which means fire fighting begins when the Tones drop, and driving to the scene is just another part of the job.

The key to making anyone comfortable performing any activity is training and repetition.

One message that gets completely lost when red lights are treated as a privilege is that Emergency Driving DOES NOT equal fast driving (you really can get to the scene very quickly by driving the speed limit with lights and sirens and the occasional air horn). When having a red light is a "privilege" it is seen as a "license to speed" by many people and only training such as EVOC will correct that perception.

Before everyone can go home, everyone has to get to the scene.

For those who think 8 hrs are too much, don't apply with my department.

In addition to the mandatory EVOC (16hrs, every two years), we require a minimum of 10hrs supervised driving time.

The prospective operator must complete a minimum of 25 supervised emergency responses.

State law also requires a Class B Commercial license on vehicle over 26,000 GVW.

Just because you are breathing doesn't give you the right to live drive.
Just wondering, and sorry that I didn't do much research here on it, but when we take into account all the fire apparatus crashes, and I am not so sure even EMS should be considered here, because I am unsure what the ratio of Vol. EMS vs Career EMS, but lets consider fire only, what is the ratio of Career vs Vollie apparatus crashes. (and I say crashes because very rarely is there anything accidental about them. Someone screws up - be it the civilian driver or the apparatus driver) Are there more vollie crashes than career crashes? just wondering.
Zactly. I totally disagree with having a sireeeen in any POV. Get a bunch of those wingnuts screaming through town, how the hell can any normal driver determine where the Fn thing is coming from? Studies have shown (believe it or not yes, there was a study done on this lol) that when drivers use sirens, its a natural reaction to speed up and try to "keep up" with the siren. I actually found that to be true..and scary too. Way to easy to flip an SUV POV or whatever. Lights are bad enough. At least you cant hear a light. Anyway, thanks Ralph. Something I am gonna investigate a bit further just to see who is doing the wrecking the most. I suspect it has to be vollie, cuz there are more of them ...am I right or way off base?
Anecdotally, I've seen more crashes involving Volunteer Firefighters than I have those involving career Firefighters when I get The Secret Lists emails.

Just this morning I received this one:

"A Morgan County (GA) Firefighter is in critical condition at the Atlanta Medical Center after his vehicle rolled over this morning.
[The] Morgan County Firefighter was responding from his home to the firehouse when he was involved in a single vehicle crash. [He] was enroute to the fire station to respond to a call."

This is pretty typical of Firefighter involved crashes I have seen reports of. Single Car, enroute to a call, very often driving too fast for the conditions, the road and the driver's abilities. the other typical crash I have seen reports of are single vehicle roll-overs of water tenders (tankers), which usually indicates driving too fast for the vehicle type, the road, conditions and (obviously) the driver's abilities.

It happens more with Volunteer Firefighters, I believe, due to a lack of training, lack of familiarity and lack of discipline (especially with speed).

"Incidents involving motor vehicles account for approximately 20% of U.S. fire fighter deaths each year; cases involving tankers are the most prevalent of these motor vehicle incidents. During 1977–1999, 73 deaths occurred in 63 crashes involving tankers. Of those deaths, 54 occurred in 49 crashes in which tankers rolled over (no collision), and 8 occurred in 6 crashes in which the tankers left the road (no collision). The other cases involved collision with another vehicle (10 deaths in 7 crashes) and collision with stationary object(s) (1 death) [NFPA 2000]." http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2002-111/

There are indeed engines and ladders hitting each other and civilian vehicles and fatalities as a result, and it does also happen in paid departments. Significantly though, in a paid department many (most?) don't have tankers and secondly, the chauffeur is assigned to that role, not first-one-in-the-door-gets-to-drive. As such, while paid departments tend to roll to more calls, the chauffeur is much more experienced and familiar with his/her rig. So I would think that most crashes occur in vfd's (almost exclusively for POV accidents).
Daniel, greetings from "The County!" I have to say I will be glad when November comes this year. I think this is another over exaggerated response from the Blaine House. I do like the increased security this TYPE of law gives our citizens, but the extent that you are speaking of is over the top. In my department EVOC is being phased in, most guys are there already and all new hires will be put through the class up front. For the 8 hours of drive currently required I ask my guys to divide it up amongst our 3 trucks more or less evenly. And every year I try to keep records of each man having 8 hours of non-emergent driving, again split between the apparatus.

Here is how this would effect my department. On average with a volunteer department you may hire 3-4 men and only keep 1 of them long term. With 3 men, our 3 trucks, and the class this would take (1 class x 8 hours) + (3 men x 3 trucks X 8 hours each) = 80 hours, or 2 work weeks of the trainers time. After this investment in personal time we would end up with 1 man that can drive a truck but can not pump, put on his gear, raise a ladder safely, protect an exposure, give proper CPR, or any of the other countless things that require safe practices and personal (unpaid) time. Even for paid call crews, most of this training time is time away from the family for no compensation.

I am all for safety, there are too many LODDs involving driving and this needs to be addressed. Here is how the new law will actually work:

* More people fudging numbers on paperwork
* Less involvement of young men that need to work and raise their family
* A feeling that once you pass your EVOC there is no need for continued training because initial training was so much
* More accidents during training since there will be a significant increase in road miles on the apparatus statewide

The town to our south has 4 trucks that they run and the town to the north has 6 trucks, I can not imagine trying to qualify on all of these. Maybe we need a more standardized practice to show to the insurance companies, but there is a limit of what you can expect for free.
I certainly agree with you on reading FFCC. There are so many things to learn and use to reinforce our knowledge. I like to integrate NIOSH reports into our training when I can find one that applies to my department and response area needs.
I have had EVOC training and I also have a class A CDL with a school bus and passenger endorsement. I don't think very many of the small dept's in the country can afford to train their drivers for CDL's because it is very expensive to keep up. You have the physicals that you have to have every 2 years plus you have the cost of the CDL that is much higher than a normal license. I agree totally that more training needs to be done BUT you have to look at the cost. We have a certain amount of time we do in a simulator and then hands on but ultimately it comes down to the Chief giving the final test. And as someone who has taken and passed it it isn't very easy even with my 5 and a half years OTR training. I think it all comes down to the individual doing the driving at the end of the day.
Cost comparison.

In Texas, the cost of a Class B CDL is $60 plus a $10 examination fee. EVOC classes are from free to around $250 depending on who is teaching the class. That figures out to $320. Add in a pump operators class, and the total goes to $620.

The average funeral cost $8000. Average fire apparatus replacement cost, $350,000. Replacing damaged misc. equipment, another 25,000. If hospitalized before death, add a conservative $100,000. Almost assured law suit defenses and settlements into the millions. And the loss of income, housing, and lifestyle to the firefighters dependents, many, many thousands of dollars. Damage to the reputation of the department, Priceless.

Realizing that prices and costs vary from state to state, how can anyone say the training and licenses "cost too much?" I'm not a math wizard, but the numbers don't even begin come close.

I don't give a tinkers damn whether your career or volunteer, the numbers are the same.
I suspect that if they can't afford to train their drivers, they best keep them off the rigs. I figure its a pay now (training fees, licencing, medicals etc) or pay later... lawsuits. Which would be cheaper?

I too have a cdl ( in canada we call it a class 2 ( thats buses) and Class 4 (taxi, emergency vehicles etc) As an example, mechanics need certain tools to do their job. Carpenters need certain tools to do their job.. and drivers need certain tools to do their job. The licence is one of those tools. Granted, the harder and more expensive it becomes to operate a fire apparatus, the fewer people that will want to do it. Those that really DO WANT TO, will!

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