Fire Apparatus Drivers Program

The DPSST Regional Fire Section is no stranger to remote delivery and over the last ten years has purchased a number of training props that can be moved around the state to assist with the needs of the Oregon Fire Service. The latest addition to the Oregon Fire Training toolbox is the Skid Avoidance for Fire Apparatus Drivers (SAFAD) Program. As designed, the program is similar to that used by the law enforcement community with the noticeable difference between the Fire Service and that of law enforcement training being the use of a Ford F-650 crew cab truck with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating up to 24,000 pounds instead of the police package sedan. The concept of the program started several years ago and came together towards the end of 2008 and early 2009 as a result of several tragic accidents involving Oregon Fire Service drivers. As with law enforcement emergency vehicle operation course (EVOC), the foundation of the Fire Service Program is a sound base of training that emphasizes the dynamics or performance characteristics of the vehicle, an awareness of the space occupied by the vehicle and how this impacts the overall environment, taking into consideration driving conditions.

Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency

Once the base knowledge, skills and abilities have been established or identified through such standards as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency, the SAFAD curriculum provides the actual hands on experience to support and reinforce the base training.

In designing the program the goal was established to provide each attending operator the psychomotor skills and mental attitudes that are essential to becoming the most competent, skillful and responsible driver possible. Overall, the program performance objective is to reduce Oregon’s statistical numbers in the national list of accidents and injuries. In the past 12 years, 16 Oregon firefighters were killed in vehicle crashes while on duty.

SKIDCAR Systems

To deliver the training, various solutions were considered, with DPSST ultimately choosing SKIDCAR Systems. The SKIDCAR System consists of two hydraulic platforms mounted to the front and rear axles of the truck. An instructor who is seated next to the driver adjusts the grip using a computer that is slaved to the hydraulic platforms. The instructor is able to create and repeat circumstances where it is possible for the driver to lose control, experience common roadway hazards, and do so at low speeds with no physical risk to the driver, instructor, or equipment.

See the full article here
Article from: DPSST November 2012 Newsletter, Volume 1 Issue 3
Department of Public Safety, Standards & Training, 4190 Aumsville Hwy SE Salem, OR 97317

Police and Fire Training on a Budget

Police and Fire departments, municipalities, insurance companies, and private driver training companies are searching for an economically justifiable program to reduce risk from the rising cost of vehicle accidents and operational costs.

Challenged Training Budget

Challenged training budgets, near non-existence capital construction budget can overlook the fact that not only do police departments fight more civil litigation involving collisions and pursuits than anything else, vehicle related incidents are the number one cause of Police Officer injuries and the second leading cause of deaths. Firefighter Fatality statistics reported in the NFPA 2011  report also provides startling details into vehicle operations and injury.

A viable, proven and economically feasible solution to emergency vehicle operations (EVO) that is trending upward is the SKIDCAR.  In use today by almost 300 Police, Fire, EMS, Military Security Forces, school systems, and private driver training companies in North America alone and approximately 27,000 drivers are getting a lesson in a SKIDCAR or SKIDTRUCK® each year.

The SkidCar duplicates conditions where spins and skids  occur at low speeds in a controlled environment allowing students to experience what it feels like to be in a vehicle that is about to go out of control and/or is out of control.

Just as police officers need to qualify with their service weapons on a regular basis, the Adams County Sherriff’s deputies also need to qualify in their vehicles” said Lieutenant Rick McNair in charge of the departments training section. “With our ever changing weather conditions here in Colorado and our large area of coverage our deputies must be prepared for any road condition at any time.”

 

How It Works

The SkidCar System is a hydraulically-controlled unit mounted to the suspension on the training vehicle, such as a police car or fire truck, that exactly duplicates the loss of tire traction at very low speeds (6 to 40 mph). Using an electro-hydraulic pump, the mechanism reduces traction by raising or lowering the vehicle’s tires from the road, duplicating hazardous driving conditions such as ice, snow, rain, or oil- or gas-slickened roads. This low-speed training tool teaches drivers how to avoid skids and loss of control. It has become a critical component of many public safety and low enforcement driver training programs. From inside the car, the instructor can control the system’s 20 different traction settings that duplicate a full range of hazardous driving conditions, and instantly lowers the tires to full contact with the road surface. The SKIDCAR requires no special surfaces or traditional EVOC track. Only a relatively smooth, reasonable sized parking lot is all that is required. Because of it’s mobility and use of set-up even small areas can be turned in to a driving range capable of training critical driving techniques and outcomes. Without question, these factors alone make the logistics, cost and time benefits of Skidcar worth serious evaluation.

Multiple Application; Nationally

Nationally the SKIDCAR has found application in many areas in addition to public safety for example the Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation and the Municipal Workers Compensation Fund provides the Proactive Driver Training program for law enforcement personnel and other municipal employees in Alabama.  This program has proven results lowering vehicle accidents and average cost per member/claim. SKIDCAR System has been shown to instill better driving instincts to help drivers maintain control in the most difficult real-life situations.  The vehicle is designed to aid in the development of driving techniques that would be risky to learn in a regular vehicle at higher speeds.  The program in Alabama consists of a day-long session in which students are trained using the SkidCar System. The first hour of the course takes place in a classroom setting. The remainder of the program is hands-on and completed in shifts. Three participants ride in the vehicle (one driving, two in the back seat) with the instructor while the remaining six observe how the vehicle responds and help maintain the training course.

Deschutes County, Oregon  offers SKIDCAR classes seven days a week. Many insurance companies offer premium discounts for completing the course. Classes are offered to all permitted drivers, age 15 and up. Each class offers one hour of classroom instruction followed by three hours of hands-on driving experience. The all-weather driving course teaches students superior vehicle control skills for all types of road conditions. Students learn how to become proactive drivers; to think ahead during vehicle operation so they don’t need to exercise their superior skills. Each graduate is provided with a Letter and Certificate of completion. Deschutes County’s SkidCar Training Program mission is accountability behind the wheel: “100 percent vehicle control, 100 percent of the time”. Course highlights include:

  • Accountability behind the wheel: “100 percent vehicle control, 100 percent of the time”
  • Complete vehicle inspection techniques prior to operation
  • Principles of what makes tires work properly
  • Proper eye placement
  • Proper vehicle weight transfer management
  • Proper acceleration, steering and braking techniques
  • Trail braking techniques
  • Skid and slide prevention
  • Line of sight cornering techniques

Ride and Drive Demonstration

SKIDCAR SYSTEM, INC, the North American distributor of SKIDCAR sponsors several training events each year. Attendees are able to inspect, drive, and discuss training applications for this exciting and valuable asset to your driver training business, academy, or school. The in-house SKIDCAR Mobile Driver Training Program vehicle is attached to an SUV equipped with 2 wheel drive, 4 wheel drive, ABS braking, Electronic Stability Control, and Traction Control safety programs. These technologies can also be disabled for a clear reference of driver training with older vehicles lacking these modern electronic safety technologies.

The demonstration events will confirm that a multimillion dollar driving range, or very expensive wet skid pan is not needed to properly train drivers in vehicle operation, skid control, skid avoidance, and how necessary it is to use good judgment as they drive down the road.  Thought process is the most important component while driving, but many dynamic driving lessons focus on speed and skill first.

Conclusion

The SKIDCAR is unique in the industry as the only device that is adjustable for grip. Many different driving scenarios and environments can be duplicated at the push of a button. Everything from rain, loose surfaces, ice and snow, or just excessively high speed can be experienced in a SKIDCAR.

If your agency already is using a driving simulator and finds it lacking in total training capability the SKIDCAR can add an important element of realism to the driving course.  Getting out of the simulator and into a SKIDCAR can validate the driving dynamics the simulators miss, and connect the learning experience needed to build a safer driver.

We are convinced a safer, more efficient driver, can be developed at a quicker rate. With less behind the wheel time of usually worn out old training vehicles will save agencies.

Here is the contact information for SKIDCAR System at: info@skidcar.com or (866) 754-3227

Public Safety Training Centers’ – Contrasts of Direction

After looking over the past months public safety training news highlights it occurred to me that for every resounding success story there are equally disturbing ones. Carlsbad, California celebrates the grand opening of its fabulous new multi-disciplined training center and the New Jersey State Patrol reports record diversification in this year’s recruit applicants, while Central Arizona College , near Phoenix struggles to remain open.

Carlsbad, doing many things extremely well

In preparing this month’s newsletter article I fully intended to tout the hard work and accomplishments of the City of Carlsbad California, accolades they genuinely deserve. Interact Business Group worked with facility staff and the police, fire and facilities departments over the past 12 months by helping them with their daily operations plan, staffing and budgets.   I have come to learn firsthand how a forward thinking city like Carlsbad  when working together can take a very limited sized site (around 4 acres) and create a  first-class public safety training center.  I would stop short of calling it world class because of their limited site and location – they did not have space for EVOC training. A nice sized grinder area will serve them well for maneuvering and driving tactic but speed is not an option for them.

Training site facing financial woes, may close

There are disturbing issues brewing at Central Arizona College (CAC) and its Central Arizona Regional Law Officers Training Academy (CARLOTA).

It seems the nationally recognized training center is tittering on the edge of closer. Its last police recruit graduating class was July 2011.  The school continues to work hard, with a very motivated staff and excellent reputation. The problem is pretty simple. Not enough students.  In a recent article in the Maricopa Monitor by Susan Randall, James Moore CAC interim vice president for learning services summed it up. “The demand for certified officers has been dropping for some time,” When CARLOTA started in 1973, it was one of only three or four academies in Arizona, he said. There was demand from all over the state. Now there are 11 academies. In the article Georgia White, CAC’s former dean of professional and technical education said, “I think the biggest change, the tipping point, has been the economy.” AZPOST Executive director Lyle Mann said CARLOTA had a fine reputation, training more than 100 officers a year, but enrollment dropped because agencies stopped hiring. Arizona agencies hired 800 to 900 cadets a year in 2006 and 2007, he said. Then the economy slowed, and they hired only 300 to 400 in 2009 and 2010.

New Jersey – 8,500 Very Qualified Candidates.

On the east coast the contrast from Arizona could not be more pronounced. The statistics are well, staggering. Recently reported by NJTODAY.NET, more than 12,000 men and women submitted online applications, the most in any New Jersey State Police recruiting drive. More than 9,600 of them met all the initial qualifications and 8,500 scheduled themselves to take the Physical Qualification Test (PQT), which is the current phase of the process. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the diversity composition of the applicants.  NJTODAY.net reports the applicant pool entering the PQT is very strong, with 19% Hispanic, 15% Black, 14% female, 3% Asian, and 2% listing two or more categories. By comparison, the last recruiting process, held in early 2010, resulted in approximately 5,200 applicants moving into the PQT phase with 15% being Hispanic, 11% Black, and 9% female. The PQT is the first step. Applicants passing the PQT will take a written exam, those passing the written will then move into background checks, then medical and psychological examinations. There is a rough target to graduate 250 total troopers in 2013 as a part of the 152nd and 153rd State Police classes.

What does it mean; Grand Opening, Tittering on Closure and Record Turnouts? I don’t have an answer. The old adage went something like this, “There will always be crime and there will always be fires. So get a job at the force or the department and you’ll never be out of work.” The first part is true but the rules of the second part have truly changed. Today there are many new lexicons in public safety; Just for fun Google “Fire Department Brownouts”- the search yields over 14,000 hits. Or try “police department cuts” and Google brings back over 31,000 hits. The bad guys are still out there and fires still destroy lives and property. I guess the only advice I have comes from my old high school football coach. “Shut-up, buckle up, get in there and do your job. You’re on the first string and there is no second string.”

(Click here to read more on this and other fire and police training issues.)

Oscar Perez/Casa Grande Dispatch, Apache Junction police officers simulate a pursuit during a driving certification in June at the Central Arizona College CARLOTA test track

Carlsbad Fire and Police; Training At It’s Best

In preparing this month newsletter article I fully intended to tout the hard work and accomplishments of the City of Carlsbad California, accolades they genially deserve. Interact Business Group had the pleasure of working with the facility staff and the police fire and facilities department of over the past 12 months helping them with their daily operations plan, staffing and budgets. I have come to learn firsthand how a forward thinking city like Carlsbad when working together can take very limited sized site, around 4 acres, and create a first class public safety training center. I would stop short of calling it world class because of their limited site and location they did not have not space for EVOC training. A nice sized grinder area will serve them well for maneuvering and driving tactic but speed is not an option for them. (continue..)

Carlsbad during a live fire training session, using FireBlast prop

Carlsbad Public Safety Training Center / August 11, 2012 | Photo by Charlie Neuman
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