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Vehicle Backing

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Running head: vehicle backing procedures

Vehicle backing procedures
Duane A. Nelson
Idaho State University

Vehicle Backing Procedures
The fire service is commonly recognized throughout history by the images of fire apparatus responding to fires. On these apparatus are fire fighters standing on the tailboard, preparing for their duties. These images are a thing of the past. The regulations, standards and most local policies of today do not allow these actions. Prevention measures including closed cabs, NFPA driving standards, and vehicle backing devices are all types of measures to keep fire fighters from falling from the apparatus or being injured by apparatus backing. Even as we have put these preventive measures into place fire fighters continue to be injured or killed.
Vehicle Backing
NIOSH Fatality Report
The injury or fatality of a fire fighter is a catastrophic event, but when this event should be able to be prevented it is especially difficult. The event on August 14, 2004 report F2005-01, showed us again how quickly such accidents can occur. After an incident involving multiple apparatus responded; units began to be terminated, one apparatus needed to be backed out of the area. During this backing operation a 25-year-old female career fire fighter died when she apparently fell from the tailboard and was backed over. During this fatality as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of this department, the fire fighter was riding on the tailgate as a “tailboard safety member.” This with many other fatalities every year should and can be prevented; changing our SOPs and mitigating hazards has to be our approach.
Changing this Trend
The fire service in the United States averages 100 individual fire fighter fatalities per year. The deaths are related to many issues medical, accidental, and trauma. How then can we change this trend of one hundred brothers and sisters being killed each year? Focus on accidents can and should be a way to change this trend. Preventable accidents must be stopped. Vehicle Safety measures, standards and policies must focus on backing safety. Persons must discuss these topics which are killing our fire fighters each year and we all must be advocates for changing this trend. The discussion of accidents should involve vehicle safety. The safety measures during backing procedures needs discussion. Vincent Dunn states, “Firefighters should never be riding on an apparatus that is operating in reverse, assisting the driver.” (Dunn, 1992). This statement cannot be underestimated, the importance of our actions directly relate to the safety on the fire ground and the observance of standards in place.
NFPA Standard
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets standards directly related to safety and property protection. These standards are recommendations to us all of how to safely perform many of our duties in the fire service. NFPA 1002 Standard for Fire Apparatus Driver/ Operator Professional Qualifications sets minimum standards in which driver operators should follow. NFPA 1002, 4.3.2 Driving/ Operating General Requirements states, “Back a vehicle from a roadway into restricted spaces, given a fire department vehicle, and a spotter, [ ].” (NFPA, 2009). This standard refers directly to the use of a spotter. A spotter is an individual that is in communication with the driver anytime that an apparatus is in reverse. This policy must be adopted by all agencies. The only method in which driver/ operators will maintain safe backing procedures is if there is a spotter in constant visual and verbal communication.
Local Procedures
The standard of having a backer or spotter is one that the Idaho Falls Fire Department utilizes. Following V. Dunn’s recommendations and the NFPA standards, Idaho Falls hopes to prevent the same accident that ended a fire fighters life in 2004. This procedure is strictly enforced. The safety of individuals and the protection of equipment must be maintained. Policy in which could be changed in Idaho Falls is the use of verbal communication, during backing operations the use of a radio would increase the safety of our individuals. Continued awareness and re-evaluation of policies, including the backing SOP, is a way to keep individuals aware of potentially dangerous skills and maintain advocacy.

Conclusion
Fire fighters must continuously be made aware of the actions that they perform. Complacency has no place on the fire ground or in the fire house. The Standards, regulations, and local policies must be constantly reviewed, updated and ultimately followed. The importances of these standards are designed for safety and property protection. Advocacy for the importance of remembering our fallen fire fighters, utilizing their stories to bring importance and the constant reviews of our policies will hopefully begin to bring our number of fire fatalities reduced. One day allowing everyone to go home.

References
Dunn, V. (1992). Safety and Survival on the Fire Ground.
NFPA. (2009) NFPA Online: Standard for Fire Apparatus Driver/ Operator Professional Qualifications, Retrieved June 15, 2009 from https://www.nfpa.org.
NIOSH. (2005). NIOSH: Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, F2005-01

Retrieved June 13, 2009 from http://www2a.cdc.gov.

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