Four fire service personnel have died in the past two years from incidents involving emergency apparatus backing up. These deaths are totally preventable with proper training, use of spotters, and other safety practices.
ResponderSafety.com released the “Backing Up Best Practices” guide and video to address this problem. These resources help departments implement life-saving safety practices and aid in standard operating procedure (SOP) development.
ResponderSafety.com recommends backing up SOPs should include:
- Guidance to only back up when absolutely necessary.
- A defined backing up procedure which includes a spotter, defined roles of driver and spotter, and high-visibility PPE requirements.
- Mandatory visual inspection of the apparatus and surrounding area.
- Defined situations requiring immediate vehicle stoppage.
- Use of lighting and visibility aids at night.
- Retrofitting (consider) back up cameras on apparatus as a backing aid, not as a replacement of the spotter.
The single most effective thing a department can promote is also the simplest: avoid backing up. It may seem silly and inconvenient, but a small amount of inconvenience can save someone’s life.