Fire Apparatus Drivers Training - General Knowledge Module 1

This program is designed to serve as a foundation for driver candidates to safely operate fire apparatus in South Carolina.  Content includes safe operation of vehicles, local policies, NFPA recommendations and applicable state laws.  It does not provide 100% of the information for overall aspects of driving and operating fire fighting vehicles.  Apparatus specific follow-on courses provide the advanced knowledge and hands-on training evolutions necessary to become a proficient fire apparatus driver/operator.



The first priority for every driver must be the safe arrival of ARFD vehicles at the incident.  Safe operation of fire fighting vehicles is governed by laws, standards and local policy.  SC Code of Laws, Title 56, Motor Vehicles, outlines the requirements that you’ll need to be familiar with to operate emergency vehicles safely in South Carolina.  National Fire Protection Association Standards including NFPA 1002 Standard for Driver/Operator Professional Qualifications, NFPA 1500, Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program and NFPA 1451, Fire Service Vehicle Operations Training Program list important recommendations for training on, inspection and operating fire service vehicles.  Even if not formally adopted, the NFPA standards are regularly used as a benchmark for minimum requirements.  And finally, locally adopted policies (SOG’s) provide additional guidance specific to our department which help ensure the safety of our personnel and apparatus based on local hazards and expected conditions.

Apparatus Inspection

All vehicle operators must conduct thorough daily inspections on their vehicles.  Drivers are responsible for preventative as well as minor maintenance and documentation of vehicle discrepancies.  Certification of the proper inspections will be accomplished by annotating the checkout sheets which are reviewed monthly by the Maintenance Officer.  Any vehicle discrepancies must be reported immediately to the shift supervisor for action.  NEVER operate any ARFD vehicle while it is in an unsafe condition!  Protect yourself and the members of your crew by identifying and eliminating unsafe conditions before they present a hazard.

During the daily checkout, you notice the brake lights don"t work.  Parking and warning lights all operate normally.   Should you continue to use this vehicle or report the lights to maintenance for repair and take out of service?

  • Notify maintenance of the safety issue and place the unit out of service.
  • It's safe to use the apparatus since the warning lights still work.

Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is a proactive approach to operating a vehicle safely.  The basic concept of defensive driving includes anticipating the actions of other drivers, visual lead-time, braking and reaction time, combating skids, evasive tactics, and knowledge of weight transfer.  The defensive driver does not speed, follow too closely, or divert his/her attention from the road and other drivers.  The elements of defensive driving are an attitude that all vehicle operators should develop and maintain.  The key to safe driving is anticipation and knowing the control factors for avoiding accidents.

You're driving the Engine to a house fire with an entrapment.  It's evening and raining.  Should you attempt to keep up with the Chief in his smaller vehicle since there's a confirmed life hazard or drive with additional caution due to conditions?

Special Driving Situations

There are many special driving situations that present hazards to ARFD vehicles.  These unique situations require precautions to ensure the safety of passengers, the public and the vehicle.  The following information is a brief overview of accident prevention procedures for vehicle responses.  For additional information you can refer to NFPA 1451, NFPA 1500 or the ARFD Standard Operating Guides. (SOGs).

Driver/Operators of Fire Department vehicles shall bring the vehicle to a complete stop and shall not proceed until it is safe to do so for any of the following situations:

-Any  “stop” signal (signs, lights, or traffic officer)

- Blind intersections

- Intersections where all lanes of traffic cannot be seen

- Where encountering a stopped school bus with flashing lights

- Unguarded railroad crossings.  Drivers shall obey all railroad-crossing signals even when responding to emergencies.  Fire apparatus shall not be driven around railroad crossing gates.

  • Do whatever you can do to keep up with the Chief since there is a life in danger at house fire.
  • Drive with additional care due to wet roads and increased stopping distance.