Firefighter jobs: Fire apparatus driver job comes with responsibilities

As the driver, it is your responsibility to make sure that the crew and the equipment make it to the scene


By Todd Jennings
Taylors Fire Department

Now that you have been in the firefighter's seat, let's move to the driver's seat. In most departments this is a promotion, so you will now have more responsibilities. So what does this consist of? Let's take a closer look at some of them.

  1. Driving Responsibility. As we all know, when you move up the ranks you will be asked to drive. This could be good or bad in some cases. So what does driving consist of?

    As the driver, it is your responsibility to make sure that the crew and the equipment make it to the scene. Without the arrival of the firefighters, we will not be any good to the people having a problem.

    Drivers do not inherit the right to drive above the speed limit, run red lights and stop signs. This is a myth that most people believe. They think that since they are in an emergency vehicle, they don't have to follow all driving laws. As the driver, you must follow all laws and regulations.
  2. Engine Responsibilities. What do we mean by this? Some people believe that it is the responsibility of the officer to be over the truck. This is true to a point. But it is the responsibility of the driver to make sure that the truck and all the equipment is in working order.

    Most departments perform morning equipment check offs. This should be a detailed review of all equipment on the truck. This should include making sure that all equipment is in working order and that the pump on the truck is working.

    Also, the driver must make sure that his or her truck is back in service after every call. This means that all equipment is working, and cleaned.

    In most departments, it is also the responsibility of the driver to write work orders on their truck when a problem arises.

    Another responsibility of the driver is to perform the annual pump test for that engine. So, as a driver, you must know how to perform this test, and make sure that your test is accurate and by the book.
  3. Stepping up to an Officer Role. Some departments require that a driver will step up when the officer of the truck is out. This means that as a driver, you will need to have management skills and leadership qualities.

    Also the driver will have to have fire ground knowledge. This will help with the next part of the promotional scale.
  4. Pump Knowledge. The driver doesn't just drive the truck, but he must also be able to operate the pump.

    This is not as simple as you may think. There is friction loss, pump pressure, nozzle pressure, loss of pressure, drafting, water shuttle, and many more.

    In order to complete the task of pumping the engine, the driver must be good at math. Seeing the whole picture of pumping means knowing how to use numbers.

    The driver must also know the pump. What good are pumps that won't work? The driver must be able to fix a problem in the heat of a battle.

So, as a driver, you will be asked to assume many responsibilities. It is believed that a driver is the most important part of an engine company. If the crew and equipment does not arrive, then what good is the fire department? It is safe to say that the engineer plays a vital role in the engine company.

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