According to Bob Lang, the current Safety Safari
director, the team is currently comprised of 15 full-time members and 80 part-timers. Some may work
one race, some 16 or more races. On the circuit, the
team is made up of volunteer firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians with various
certifications and training. The Safety Safari members
will also train track workers at each event throughout the year. Each track will also have two contract
advanced life support ambulances and a backup as
well as an emergency medical services helicopter on
standby and a medical center with a nurse, a doctor,
Some tracks also have additional apparatus stationed
around the area to combat car fires and respond to
other emergencies as well, but the Safety Safari is only
concerned with the racing part of the equation.
“Our current safety vehicles are two 2017 Chevrolet
Silverado duallys that are used for track safety,” Lang
says. “We also travel with several Volvo tractor-trailer
18-wheelers pulling trailers
stocked with communication
equipment, tools and supplies,
safety equipment, and marketing
and technical gear.”
Also traveling with the team
are sweeper trucks and jet dryers
as well as vehicles that spray the
track to prepare it with special
glue to aid in traction and tire
rotating tractor machines. You
will see these tractors guiding
the racecars at the end of the
track after they shut down their
The two Chevy Silverado
duallys have two complete sets
of Amkus rescue tools; 80-gallon
booster tanks that are pressurized
with nitrogen, with water and
FireAde product that is added to
the water; a booster line; and several pressurized fire extinguishers
with FireAde, CO2, halotron,
halon, and Purple K as well.
The vehicles are placed strategically at various areas of the track
that will provide the quickest
access should an accident occur.
The main objective is to get the
driver out of the car as quickly as
possible, then quickly extin-
guish the fire involved. In some
instances, if you have watched
this highly-orchestrated ballet on TV, it is sometimes
performed simultaneously and flawlessly, I might add.
Considering Top Fuel dragsters and the Funny Car
classes with 10,000 horsepower will travel the quarter
mile in 3. 5 seconds and at 300+ miles per hour, this is
no easy feat.
The NHRA Safety Safari has evolved through the
years with new equipment and is constantly training
its full-time and part-time members. It has been truly
proactive to stay on top of what’s new in extrication
methods as well as firefighting.
If you ever get a chance to attend one of the NHRA
national events or just witness a race on TV, you will
most surely see the Safety Safari in action, doing what
it does best.
Bob Vaccaro has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He
is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro
has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire
Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a
senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.
Above: Two track sweepers and a tire guiding tractor in the rear.
Below: Two Safety Safari vehicles on scene of an on-track emergency.