Fire trucks are designed to get equipment and fire fighters safely to a blaze so that fire fighters can help put out a fire and deal with other life-saving situations. Unfortunately, many experts say that fire truck accidents are on the rise, and this problem is causing many types of injuries and problems. Fire truck accidents injure passengers of other cars as well as pedestrians. They tap resources which need to be spent on emergencies. Worse, a fire truck that has been in an accident is slowed down, so that the persons waiting for a fire truck may suffer fatalities or serious burn injuries because a truck did not arrive in time. Each year, fire truck accidents also take many fire trucks off the roads, stretching resources thin and making it harder for fire fighters to respond to emergencies in a timely way.
In 2005 alone, there were 15,885 fire truck accidents taking place while fire trucks drove to and from emergencies. According to the National Fire Protection Association, this number appears to be rising. In part, experts say, the increase in truck accidents stems from the hiring of new personnel in fire fighting departments.
Drivers of fire trucks need plenty of experience and training, since fire trucks are long, heavy, and large. They are very hard to maneuver around city streets, especially city streets where parking is permitted. In many cases, as well, fire trucks need access to small areas – such as small driveways – and getting a large fire truck into such areas takes a great deal of experience and good training.
New drivers are not the only ones who get into accidents with fire trucks. Experienced drivers also have accidents. Driving a fire truck is often a high-pressure situation. Drivers are working hard to maneuver a very large truck down smaller city streets and they are rushing to get to a fire to save lives. Sometimes, accidents occur as a result of the hurry. As well, not all pedestrians and drivers yield right of way or follow safe driving procedures around fire trucks.
Some fire departments have found a solution that can help. Several fire departments around the country have purchased a driving simulator, which consists of a real fire truck cab with three large screens positioned around it. Drivers can train in the simulator, which can be programmed to mimic rush hour, poor weather conditions, and other bad conditions for drivers. The simulator is not inexpensive – service contracts can cost $23,000 annually – but experts say the devices could help prevent pedestrian accidents, fire truck accidents, and serious injuries. The New York City fire department claims that its fire truck accidents decreased by 12% after using the simulator.