Pro-Active Drivers: Why there are more jobs, than just babysitting the truck
By: Dean Helsel
In the volunteer and combination departments, in my area, I see an ongoing issue with the drivers. Drivers are getting the firemen to the scene, but what are they doing once they are on location? Are your engine drivers being pro-active when arriving on location? Are the drivers helping run lines to ensure that there are no kinks, or is he just throwing the engine in pump gear just to watch the other guys work? What are your ladder drivers doing? Are they helping the ladder crew empty the ladder bed, or are they going to the turn table for a good view?
I’m a firm believer that engine drivers should be more than just the truck babysitter. Engine drivers should be making sure that the hose beds are clear, most do! Why can’t the driver help the line man move the line to the front door on a short or long run? The driver could be ensuring that the lines are flaked out and free from the couplings catching on any obstacles. If the engine driver assist with these tasks, then he knows when he pulls that lever that the lines are going to be ready for the linemen. The drivers can then, as usual, secure the water supply. After securing the water supply and sending the linemen water, the driver could throw ground ladders from the engine to a window. Remembering, ground ladders are for us!
Now, let’s talk about the ladder driver. What do your ladder drivers do once on location? Do your ladder drivers put the stick up to the roof and start vertical ventilation? Ladder drivers can play a huge role in truck operations. They should be assisting firemen with emptying the ladder bed and securing utilities. If they secure utilities, then that frees up a person on the ladder to carry out a different role on the fire ground. Location of the ladders should be left to your local department’s SOGs. These are just a few examples of the tasks that the ladder driver could complete to assist the firemen.
Face it, in today’s volunteer and combination departments there is a huge decrease in manpower more and more every day. So, the more the driver of the engine or ladder does on scene, the more firemen are available for searching, ventilation, or moving lines through the house. No matter what I have been told in my years of service, I have never seen/heard of a ladder truck or engine sneaking away when mommy and daddy are not looking. So, the next time you’re standing next to that pump panel or on the turn table, ask yourself what could I be doing to ensure or assist with fire ground duties? If you do the right thing, other firemen will eventually see that, and then, follow by doing the right thing, or we can only hope this to be true.