take the corrective measures in controlling
the unit and keeping it from rolling over.
The primary factors that contributed to
this event included situational awareness
and decision making. Because the driver was
home when the call came in and did not
do an operational check before responding, he was not completely briefed on the
apparatus. Also included in the situational
awareness factor was the speed limit on the
residential road. When all the information
is unavailable, it becomes difficult to decide
on the best course of action.
In this case, decision making was both a
problem and a blessing. The problems listed
include speed, failing to apply the brake
sooner, and not confirming the apparatus
settings before responding. The blessings came when recognizing the developing conditions caused the driver to react
appropriately. For the recognition-primed
part of this reaction, previous training was
attributed to guiding this response.
Points to consider include the following:
• Do you have a system you use when you
get to the station to go over the appara-
tus? How long does it normally take?
• Operating under the assumption that
the last driver left the apparatus ready to
respond, what are the minimum things
you will not leave to the last driver and
check yourself before driving to a call?
• When you try to catch up on the events
in a particular situation, what are the
things you can do to get up to speed?
Explain to members just learning the
skills for operating an apparatus some of
the things you can do while responding
to improve your overall apparatus situational awareness.
• Defensive driving in a fire engine is
hard to learn without expensive skid-car
apparatus. What advice do you give
to your personnel to avoid dangerous
conditions when driving?
• If something happened to cause civilian
property damage while responding to a
call, could you be liable in a civil suit as
the apparatus driver?
Driving is a responsibility we do not take
lightly. If we fail to arrive at the incident scene
safely, the tools, equipment, and personnel are
not available to affect the event. According to a
profile report by the National Fire Protection
Association, about 70 percent of the firefighters in the United States are volunteers. If you
have a report that addresses some of the
specifics associated with volunteer firefighting,
I would like to hear about your service.
Firefighternearmiss.com is fully supported by
volunteer firefighting organizations from
across the country; the National Volunteer
Firefighter Council is one example of our
partnership. The unique lessons you have to
share may apply universally and could help the
next call-out have a safer call-out.
The full report, Apparatus Collision During
Fire Response (Sept. 2017), can be found at
Professional Apparatus Driving and Liability: The
Training Program found on the Internet at http://www.
Greg Lindsay, MPA, CFO, has been a member of the
Oklahoma City (OK) Fire Department since 1984. He has
worked through each level of the operational fire service
and has been a battalion chief for the past 15 years.
Lindsay has a master’s degree in public administration
from the University of Oklahoma and Chief Fire Officer
designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
He has been with the Firefighter Near Miss reporting team
since March 2005. You can reach Lindsay at Lindsayokc@
If something happened to cause
civilian property damage while
responding to a call, could you
be liable in a civil suit
as the apparatus driver?