We are sometimes asked the question about off road EVOC course certification for fire departments. There are currently no certified off road EVOC courses for fire departments. The Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator Wildland Course through OSFM is only a proposed course offering currently. They have been trying for several years to develop this course, but so far there has been little interest from any agencies statewide to tackle the development. There are currently no Wildland Driving Courses being offered through State Fire Training or any that are sanctioned by SFT.
The OSFM website states that the proposed course is based on the requirements of the National Fire Protection Associations (NFPA) 1002 Driver Operator Standards. Any course in the fire service must meet NFPA standards in order to be recognized. Chapter 8 of NFPA 1002 specifically addresses Wildland Fire Apparatus requisites and practical requirements. Only a portion of the chapter applies to driving a vehicle. The remainder of the chapter applies to operation of the firefighting equipment on the vehicle (pumps, hydraulics, etc). The Driving Company focuses on the offroad driving aspects, not the operation of other fire equipment. Particularly for our Off Road EVOC instructor course, new instructors will only need to add the operation of other firefighting equipment to their lesson plans to meet the NFPA recommendations for this. All our off road training courses meet or exceed the NFPA driving recommendations.
The NFPA does not certify anyone. They only recommend standards by which organizations should create courses. The challenge with becoming certified through the OSFM SFT as an instructor is that they require each candidate to complete a 120 hour (3 weeks) Instructor Certification Course, then the Instructor must complete the Basic Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator 1A and 1B courses which are 40 hours each. This is a total of 5 weeks minimum in order to become SFT Certified to teach Wildland Driver/Operator. It appears that this is one of the reasons they are struggling to get the courses off the ground. In addition, agencies are hard-pressed to find venues that are consistent enough to host these classes.
The purpose of any certification is to show that a course meets certain minimum standards. This way, a certifying agency can be used by a course presenter as a defense in any formal hearings about training or failing to train. Since there is no certifying body for fire departments for vehicle operations, each agency would need to show when and how often their employees were trained. They would also need to have documentation of the training in the form of a detailed lesson plan. Lead Instructor Dave Storton holds a master’s degree in adult education. He has created a detailed lesson plan for every off road training course presented by The Driving Company. If an agency we have trained is ever in need of defending themselves in any formal proceeding, Dave is more than willing to appear and defend the curriculum. He has testified in Federal Court in such a proceeding and the agency prevailed based on the testimony and documentation of training that Dave provided. No other training company can make this claim or offer this service. This is at no additional charge to your agency.