Last week, Athens Fire Department officials conducted their annual Emergency Vehicle Operations Training Course (EVOC) at McMinn County High School.

Each year the department is required by Tennessee state law to conduct a minimum of two hours of emergency driver training to meet the expectations of the Vanessa K. Free Act.

“The City of Athens Fire Department always meets or exceeds those requirements when it comes to emergency driver training,” stated AFD Deputy Chief Tim Schultz. “As an EVOC instructor I always ask my students three questions: 1) what’s the most used tool in the fire service; 2) what’s the most expensive piece of equipment fire service; 3) what can be the most dangerous tool to operate? The answer is the fire apparatus. On every call, we respond a fire apparatus emergency or non-emergency. The fire apparatus will always be the most used piece of equipment in the fire service. That’s why it is so vital to train and have procedures in place for safe driver operations.”

Each year, Schultz noted, AFD firefighters log several hours of on-shift drivers training and, as a new driver, that firefighter must complete a minimum of 50-plus hours of documented training annually to meet ISO standards.

“This past week’s training was just a little of what we do to make sure our staff is confident while driving all our fleet of fire apparatus,” he explained. “We set up up a driver’s course to challenge our staff. This course has five different stations where the operator must drive through as well as backing the apparatus without hitting or touching any traffic cones. This allows our instructors to evaluate each driver, plus helps the driver to be more proficient in knowing their limitations when driving each apparatus.”

Schultz thanked McMinn County High School officials for the use of the school’s parking lot for the training.

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