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Want to know an easy way to judge the quality of a fire department? Look at how much they train. Career, volunteer or combination, fire departments become successful through training. Yet all training is not equal. Focus too much on hands-on training (HOT) and you could be missing important legal and compliance updates. Lean heavily on web-based training and you may fail to identify shortcomings in skills proficiencies. Keep students confined to a classroom and you may lose their interest quickly. Not surprisingly, a balance of all three types of training is needed to produce competent, empowered firefighters. For this article, I was challenged to think about what’s missing from our current fire training programs. As I thought about the varied way we approach fire training, three issues jumped out at me. Base training on facts and statistics Take advantage of new technologies Incorporate policy into your training Your training program should also be strong in the types of calls you respond to most Base Training On Facts And Statistics If your department has a robust training program, outlined by a calendar of various topics and employing a mix of HOT, online and classroom training, you’re ahead of the curve. But even in departments with well-developed training programs, training is often based on preference or habit, not data. Think about the topics in your training program. Do you know why they’re included? Do they match your call make-up? Are they targeting specific skill shortcomings? (And yes, we all have them!)What’s missing from many fire department training programs is a detailed needs assessment What’s missing from many fire department training programs is a detailed needs assessment that in turn establishes a factual basis for the year’s training topics. The needs assessment should include: Surveying the members to determine the types of training they want or feel they need. Measuring firefighter proficiency on basic tasks, such as NFPA 1403 drills, NFPA 1710 drills and EMS patient assessment skills audits, to assess personnel by mandate or by industry best practice. This will identify skills deficiencies to address through training. Incorporating call volume statistics and details. A significant percentage of the calls fire departments respond to are EMS and vehicle extrication But I’d venture to guess the training programs of most departments don’t match those percentages. Yes, you need to train for the high-risk, low-frequency tasks. But your training program should also be strong in the types of calls you respond to most. Incorporating these “facts and stats” into your training program will help you keep it fresh, relevant and interesting. Firefighters can use their phones and tablets to access department training information and complete training assignments Take Advantage Of New Technologies There is something to be said for back-to-the-basics, keep-it-simple firefighter training. But it’s a mistake to ignore technological advances. From teaching safe apparatus backing procedures to practicing hoseline deployment and Vent/Enter/Isolate/Search (VEIS) tactics, instructors have more options than ever before. Some instructors regard simulators as second-rate to “the real thing.” Certainly, simulation and other forms of technology-driven instruction can’t replace the value of hands-on experience. But they can augment it in important ways. Driver simulators, for example, not only save money because apparatus don’t have to be taken out of service or sustain wear and tear; they also provide an environment where firefighters can learn without risk of injury. If sitting behind a computer isn’t your kind of thing, live-burn simulators, vehicle fire simulators and hazmat simulators are available—and they all significantly boost training efficiency.Technology will never replace hands-on instruction, but it can facilitate it But you don’t need fancy simulators to incorporate technology into your fire training program. Learning management systems (LMS) are another important tool that can increase training program efficiency. Although they’ve been around for a long time, LMS continue to improve. The ability to integrate with mobile devices is huge, allowing firefighters to use their phones and tablets to access department training information and complete training assignments. Leveraging this technology can allow you to more efficiently manage information, schedule training and free up valuable time needed for other important tasks. If you’ve attended some of the larger regional or national fire conferences recently, you may have had the opportunity to see audience response technology in action. By capturing the firefighters’ responses to questions in real-time, instructors can adjust the material to reflect students’ knowledge level. Audience response is also simply a great way to keep firefighters engaged. Technology will never replace hands-on instruction, but it can facilitate it. If you’re using training methods that haven’t changed in decades, something’s missing from your training program. Without incorporating policy into your training, you’re only giving your firefighters half the equation Incorporate Policy Into Your Training I saved the biggest and best for last. When I work with fire departments across the country, I repeatedly discover the failure to incorporate policy into training. Think about it: Training curricula are almost always designed around procedures—the how of doing something. But isn’t the why just as important? And that’s what policy is all about. Without incorporating policy into your training, you’re only giving your firefighters half the equation.Inevitably firefighters will encounter times when following the procedure isn’t possible Inevitably firefighters will encounter times when following the procedure isn’t possible. That’s when policy training kicks in—firefighters understand the fundamental objective, and they can think on their feet about how to achieve it. Training on policy also helps departments address the issues that so often get firefighters into trouble. How many of your firefighters really understand your department’s social media policy? What about the rules surrounding sick time usage? These are things that trip up firefighters time and time again. If you’re not training on policies, it’s unlikely firefighters remember them. How many of your firefighters really understand your department’s social media policy? In addition, normalization of deviance is a risk to every organization. When personnel fail to follow policies and no negative repercussions result, it can quickly establish a new normal. Policy-based training resets the “normal” and makes sure that members of the organization comply with the policy and not what they think the policy says.Most line-of-duty death reports cite failure to comply with policy or lack of adequate policy Fire instructors often avoid training on policy because they regard it as boring or unrelated to what really matters—firefighter safety and survival. Yet most line-of-duty death reports cite failure to comply with policy or lack of adequate policy as contributing factors in the incident. If you’re worried that policy will make your training program dry and uninteresting, link it to real-world events. An online search provides lots of examples of when things went wrong and how adherence to policy might have produced a different outcome. And limit policy training to small chunks. Take out a 10-page policy and go through it line by line, and your students’ eyes will glaze over in seconds. Instead, look for ways to enrich your current training by bringing relevant pieces of policy into it. Your firefighters will be learning the department’s policies without even realizing it! Focus On Continuous Improvement Fire chiefs and fire instructors have a challenging job. Budgets are tight, and training is often one of the first things to be cut. Yet we need firefighters to be proficient in all-hazards response. Every department has a long training wish list. But if we focus on continuous quality improvement, we can get a little better each year. Looking for opportunities to incorporate statistics, technology and policy into our training is a good place to start.
Within traditional commercial and industrial firefighting systems, engineers have primarily focused on permanent installation designs rather than entertaining alternative or supplemental mobile firefighting systems. Permanent installation design is typically better understood, supported, and supplied throughout the fire protection engineering and manufacturing community. However, mobile firefighting systems provide unique solutions and advantages compared to their permanent installation cousins such as flexible deployment, simpler servicing, improved economy, and much higher performance availability. The combination of both systems is frequently the most strategic solution for the facility operator. Limitations of fixed installation systems Permanent installation (fixed) systems include everything from sprinklers, foam systems, primary watermain pumps, and the plethora of piping in between. A large refinery complex will need to address various hazard mitigation and control problems that span both hardware and personnel needs. In the event standard hazard mitigation safety procedures and equipment have failed, the facility immediately initiates a hazard control operation. Passive fixed systems automatically engage the hazard through an array of sensors, mechanical triggers, and control algorithms. A properly designed system with adequate hazard coverage, preplanning, preventative maintenance, and testing will successfully terminate the hazard, while firefighting personnel respond and ensure no further hazards develop. This conceptual approach relies on hardware and personnel all operating as planned…. Combining permanent and mobile apparatus “According to plan” would never have any failures or fires, but history has a different script. In the worst-case petrochemical scenario, fixed systems fail to extinguish a hazard putting the entire response on human and mobile hardware resources. This would include but is not limited to firetrucks, mobile high-flow pumping systems, large mobile monitors, foam proportioning units, and large diameter layflat hose. This type of response escalates into a larger scale operation, sometimes involving agencies beyond the facility operator itself. Although a low probability event, the risk to life and property is significantly substantial. Fixed systems may be rendered inoperable due to the loss of electrical power or actual physical damage Reducing fire-related expenditureMore typical than the worst-case scenario, facilities experience both maintenance-related system downtimes and natural phenomena damage such as extreme weather and seismic events. In this case, fixed systems may be rendered inoperable due to the loss of electrical power or actual physical damage. In any of these situations, mobile fire apparatus may fill the gap requirements of the facility as their flexible storage and deployment would protect them from everything but the worst natural disasters. Their further benefit is that a smaller set of mobile apparatus resources may be used to protect a larger amount of infrastructure, especially while in use in a mutual-aid program between facilities and communities. According to the NFPA’s report “Total Cost of Fire in the United States”, fire-related damages and expenditures from 1980 to 2014 have risen from roughly $200B (adjusted for inflation to 2014) to nearly $330B. The greatest expenditure is in fire safety costs in building construction, amounting to $57.4B. Although the overall losses per year as a ratio to protection expenditures has dropped by roughly 70% over the past 30 years, petrochemical facility losses have continued to rise over the same time. In the worst-case petrochemical scenario, fixed systems fail to extinguish a hazard Petrochemical facility challenges According to the NFPA, refineries or natural gas plants had reported an average of 228 fires or explosions per year through the 1990s. Furthering this data with Marsh’s “100 Largest Losses, 25th edition”, refinery losses have continually expanded throughout the last two decades with 11 of the top 20 largest losses of the past 40 years happening during or after the year 2000. Two primary drivers of this trend are the advanced age of petrochemical facilities and their staggering complexity. As oil margins fall, upstream operational businesses are detrimentally affected by reduced investment in everything to new equipment, maintenance and passive safety systems. There is an observable correlation between a major oil price drop followed by upstream facility fire losses. Even with reduced investment and oil throughput growth rates, US refinery utilisation at the end 2017 was at 96.7%, the highest since 2005 (Marsh, The Impact of the Price of Oil). The short story is that systems and personnel are being asked to do more with less with each passing year. Cost-effective mobile apparatus systems Mobile fire apparatus is generally more cost-effective to procure when using standardised designs and application methodology. They can access open water sources by either drafting (when in close proximity to the water) or using floating source pumps (for variable level or difficult access water sources). Mobile fire apparatus is generally more cost-effective to procure when using standardized designs and application methodology With this open water access, they can provide significantly more water (upwards of 10,000 GPM or more per system if necessary) than any typical fixed fire pumping solution. Moreover, as their primary benefit, they are easy to move and deploy. This benefit allows them to be utilised at the point of hazard as needed while being easily accessible for service. While fixed systems are installed at “every known” hazard and must be continually maintained to operate effectively, mobile systems may be used sitewide or across facilities. This flexibility reduces overall capital expenditure requirements and establishes a valuable primary and secondary firefighting system depending on the hazard and facility resources. Combining fixed and mobile systems Permanent installation fire suppression systems are a mainstay of modern day firefighting. They provide immediate passive response with little human intervention. However, as facility utilisation is pushed to maximum capacity while fixed systems continually age out without adequate replacement or maintenance, mobile systems will need to both fill the response gap and provide a final wall to total loss incidents. The reality is that both fixed and mobile systems need to work together to provide the safest possible operation. Service and training requirements need to also be maintained to manage an adequate, or even better, exemplary response to hazard control incidents. Managing major facility uptime requires continuous oversight and to drive hazard mitigation standards throughout the organisation, including executive management. A safe, reliable and fully-functional plant is also a profitable and cost-effective plant much like a healthy worker is a better worker. Protect your people and property and you will protecting your company’s future.
The newly displayed ambulance by Road Rescue is equipped to tackle critical medical situations Built on a Furion Chassis, the New Ambulance Serves as an Emergency Room on Wheels. The ambulance was exhibited at FDIC 2010. Road Rescue, Inc. unveiled a new "emergency room on wheels" as it made its debut by exhibiting Critical Care Transport vehicle at the fire-rescue industry's biggest trade show. Road Rescue, which is a subsidiary of Spartan Motors, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPAR), will showcase the new ambulance, which serves as a mobile neo-natal or intensive care unit, at Booth 2432 during the Fire Department Instructors Conference, which runs through April 24 in Indianapolis, Ind. Built on a Furion® chassis from Spartan Chassis, this new version of the Ultramedic is designed to operate in a high-density urban area to deliver extremely specialized, pre-hospital medical care to the patient onboard. "Our new Critical Care Transport brings a high level of intensive care to patients in the field," said Dave Reid, senior vice president, Emergency Response Vehicles for Spartan Motors. "Whether transporting a premature newborn or handling triage after a hurricane, the Critical Care Transport carries the medical equipment needed to care for the most critically ill and medically fragile patients. "We feel that the new Critical Care Transport is the finest provider of pre-hospital medical care available today on the market." The modular body of the Critical Care Transport is self-contained and capable of operating independently from the chassis in the event of a vehicle breakdown or accident. This allows emergency-response personnel to continue to deliver life saving support. Modular body of ambulance provides it with enough flexibility and capability The unit can carry enough medical equipment to sustain ground operations for longer periods than traditional ambulances. The Critical Care Transport can be equipped with: Satellite communication system Multiple oxygen or compressed air tanks Redundant electrical systems Patient and cot lifts Isolettes for premature infants Generators or inverters to create either 12-volt AC or 12-volt DC power Special heat and air conditioning Refrigerators The new Critical Care Transport will be built on a Furion chassis from Spartan Motors. Introduced in 2007, the Furion is a purpose-built cab and chassis specifically designed for the emergency-response industry. It features a 94-inch galvanized steel cab designed for safety, roominess and maneuverability. "The Furion provides an excellent foundation for the new Critical Care Transport," said John Sztykiel, president and CEO of Spartan Motors. "Not only does the Furion provide a rugged, dependable and performance-oriented chassis, it does so at a very attractive price point that will resonate with dealers and customers alike. "This is a large and strategic step for Spartan. In the fire truck market today, more than 50 percent of all units ride on a custom chassis - a market we were instrumental in creating. We are very focused on leveraging this strength and developing custom chassis for the ambulance market, as virtually no vehicles are currently built on custom chassis." Uses for the new Critical Care Transport include: Cardiac transport Neo-natal care Backup to emergency helicopters in the event of poor weather conditions On-call for large or state police dispatch centers Natural disaster support Mobile medical clinics
The Road Rescue manufacturing facility in South Carolina Investments in facilities and equipment will increase productivity In a move to strengthen its operations and performance, Road Rescue has received additional capital investment and leadership support from its parent company, Spartan Motors, Inc. As part of a strategic initiative announced six months ago, Spartan Motors has made capital investments in facilities and equipment to strengthen the Marion, S.C. manufacturer of premium ambulance and rescue vehicles. Spartan Motors is also investing in the development of new Road Rescue products that will be introduced in the coming quarters. Enhancements at the Marion facility include: Construction of a new customer inspection facility that is climate controlled and is illuminated by high intensity lighting Addition of equipment that streamlines the engineering and manufacturing processes, reducing order-to-delivery time Lighting upgrades throughout the facility to improve the manufacturing environment while supporting energy conservation Focus on continuous improvement, with an emphasis on refining work flow, reducing inventory and increasing speed David L. Reid, a vice president at Spartan Motors, will now lead the day-to-day operations of Road Rescue. Reid, who brings more than 30 years of leadership experience to this role, will have profit/loss responsibility for Road Rescue, as well as its sister company, fire apparatus manufacturer Crimson Fire, Inc. A Road Rescue team member putting the finishing touches to an ambulance Prior to joining SMI, Reid spent more than 20 years with publicly traded global furniture maker Herman Miller, Inc. While at Herman Miller, he served as senior vice president and general manager of Milcare, Inc., a subsidiary of Herman Miller specializing in healthcare furniture and equipment. He successfully returned Milcare to profitability by developing and expanding the dealer distribution network, establishing a strong government sales unit, expanding into international markets and making operational improvements. "Road Rescue builds the best, safest and strongest ambulances in the industry, and Spartan Motors remains deeply committed its success," said Tom Gorman, chief operating officer of SMI. "Dave Reid has been a recognized and effective change agent since joining us in 2007. He and his team have the full support - and resources - of SMI to supplement the talent in Marion. "Our team is focused on accelerating the progress at Road Rescue by sharing best practices from all the Spartan Motors family of companies with South Carolina to maximize the value we deliver to shareholders, dealers and end users. We are committed to having the right people in place to make this business successful in Marion." The announcement comes at the conclusion of a successful dealer meeting in Marion. More than 40 participants from 16 leading dealers spent two days at the facility reviewing new products and programs being developed for 2010 introductions. Dealers like Bob Reilly of North Eastern Rescue have already begun to see the changes. The additional investment will help streamline manufacturing processes "North Eastern Rescue is proud to partner with Road Rescue and SMI," said Reilly, partner in North Eastern. "In these uncertain times the financial backing and support of SMI for Road Rescue is comforting. It has allowed the people at Road Rescue to continue to focus on the quality and innovation that has made them a market leader." Reid looks forward to working with Reilly and other Road Rescue dealers, as well as the team in Marion, end users and other key stakeholder groups. "Spartan has a reputation of excellence in engineering and custom manufacturing in every industry where it operates," Reid said. "We are flexible, nimble and committed to meeting deadlines. The shared services team now operating at Road Rescue brings that philosophy to Marion." "Road Rescue, its dealers and end users will benefit from the financial investment and leadership support of the Spartan Motors team. I look forward to working with the associates in South Carolina to bring our best corporate practices to Road Rescue."
Road Rescue's Ultramedic - one of three ambulances the company has recently improved New technology, innovative features among 40+ improvements to product line Road Rescue will introduce a complete redesign of its line of custom ambulances at the emergency-rescue industry's largest trade show, which opens today. Road Rescue, a subsidiary of Spartan Motors, Inc., will showcase more than 40 improvements, including new technology and innovative features, on its line of Ultramedic®, Promedic® and Duramedic® ambulances. The redesign features enhancements in five key areas: module, doors, systems, appearance and hardware. Three redesigned ambulances will be on display at Booth 2432 during the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), which runs through April 25 in Indianapolis, Ind. "For the past year, the best minds in the ambulance industry have been working on an extensive ‘re-design' for our product line," said Gary DeCosse, president of Road Rescue. "While most ambulance manufacturers come to FDIC with one or two new features on their ambulances, our redesign incorporates more than 40 improvements to our entire product line. These are truly new vehicles - from the wheels up. "We have made extensive enhancements to improve vehicle safety and functionality. The result is a stronger, more durable and sleeker ambulance that will enable EMTs to be more efficient and effective when working on patients during transport." Road Rescue's new ambulance features significant improvements to the module, including: New crash-rail fender ring system that is more impact absorbent. The new system, which features an extruded rubber crash rail, does not require fasteners and simply snaps on the vehicle body. In the event of an accident, the system is more easily repaired or replaced in the field. Redesigned roof-radius extrusion with triple-wall construction that is substantially stronger and exceeds the new KKK vehicle standards. New exterior doors featuring a double-box, pan-formed composite construction with a hidden hinge that delivers a lighter, stronger and more durable door. The composite construction improves vehicle insulation and reduces road noise. The hidden hinge is protected from the elements as well as a cleaner overall appearance. - and improvements to the vehicle systems, including: A refinement of the patient-centric concept introduced at FDIC in 2008 that standardizes the overhead equipment mounts and reduces their profile to deliver more working room for EMTs. The new designs also feature a rail system that provides a central point for medical equipment and improved lighting. An innovative new interior outlet rail system patterned after those utilized by hospitals to consolidate outlets into a convenient location that can be field adjusted when procedures change. A refined central air system that realigns vent locations to improve airflow and efficiency whether heating or cooling the vehicle. The overall look is also cleaner. Enhancements to the interior and exterior appearance of the vehicle. Exterior upgrades include a shift to chrome handles, flanges, crash rails, trim and housing. Interior improvements include the use of lighter and more soothing colors, stainless steel accents and improved trim options. Hardware upgrades throughout the vehicle that enhance ease of cleaning, restocking and overall functionality. "In many ways, it's what you won't see in this redesign that matters the most," DeCosse said. "More than half of all the improvements and innovations are incorporated into the build process, further enhancing our industry position as a leader in quality and safety. "Our new ambulance line incorporates new materials and new processes that will allow us to improve the efficiency of our production line and reduce order-to-delivery times. From major structural changes down to simple hardware changes, we have developed a truly innovative vehicle that delivers improved performance."