Safety Sharing with Local Fire Departments

By Ed Burke, Dennis K. Burke, Inc.

Day to day, we rely on the experience and training of our drivers. As business owners, our primary concern is to make sure that our guy in the cab gets home safe each night. Our goal is to give them the best training that we can, so that they can do their job safely and effectively.

Our focus each day is on delivering product safely. Faced with safety issues and regulations far beyond typical transportation fleets, we all understand the role that a good safety program plays in our industry. We also want to be active in the communities where we work, and safety sharing is a unique way to do it.

In the past, we’ve been asked to participate in several emergency management drills and events. It’s a great opportunity to work with these folks, and a great experience for our staff.

Having heard time and again that it would be great if our company could offer classes for firefighters to stay current with fuel equipment, we began providing free training to any fire department that requested it.

Every month or two, our safety team visits with one of the local fire departments to share our experience and safety expertise. We typically offer multiple presentations to accommodate the shifts and schedules of the firemen.

Taking the classroom outdoors, we bring along a fuel trailer truck for the firemen to get a real hands-on tour of current trailer technology. For most of these firefighters, it’s their first opportunity to check out these vehicles in a non-emergency situation.

We try to share our experiences through veteran drivers who address some of the hazards that they might encounter while making deliveries or just traveling through their community.

You couldn’t ask for a better audience. The firefighters are intensely interested in learning about the equipment and ask dozens of great questions. The firemen practice turning off key valves and learn about the truck’s construction and capabilities.

There are great discussions regarding placarding, responding to hazards, and learning about a trailer’s emergency shut-off mechanisms. They talk about rollovers, the quickest way to contain flammables inside the tank, or controlling them if released.

Emphasizing that it is a hands-on demonstration, our safety director then points to the top of the trailer and urges the firemen to climb aboard, look inside the tank compartments, ask questions, and try to familiarize themselves with the vehicle’s emergency safety features.

Keep in mind, what firemen are interested in learning about is what your drivers do each day — handle fuel products safely. Firefighters want to know about your trucks, the valves, and how current safety mechanisms work. They ask questions about situations that most veteran fuel drivers have dealt with over the years.

You talk about the products you carry and what the driver should do in an accident or emergency. They discuss how different fuel products burn, and there’s a conversation about static electricity too.

Safety sharing with local fire departments has been a great experience for our company. We’re proud of the unique training we can bring to these communities and think it’s an idea worth sharing.

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