Working on Fire’s Operational Managers switch to 4×4 gear
Wildfire firefighters do not battle flames on smooth and even terrain. They fight fires in rocky mountainous areas, overgrown velt, against forest slopes and into valleys. It’s a technical business for which Working on Fire’s firefighters are well trained. But before anyone can’t put “a beater to a flame”, ground teams first need to swiftly and safely reach the fireline – which can be a mission on its own.
The Working on Fire (WOF) Transport Department requires that all its drivers pass a Yellow Card Driver’s course before they are allowed to go to a fireline. This includes vehicle type ratings, fitness tests and theoretical- and practical assessments. Additional 4x4 training is also done, but – in the past – was limited to the drivers of Fire Trucks (FTs) and High-Altitude Team (HAT) vehicles. This year, inline with the revised WOF Transport Basic Operating Procedures (BOPs), all WOF operational managers are required to pass a 4x4 Yellow Card Driver training in order for them to safely and effectively reach and support their teams during high pressure operations.
During this week-long training, hosted by Kishugu Training in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, attendees will work through: accredited Advanced 4x4 LDV training (on-road and off-road assessments, pre-trip inspections, defensive driving theory, assessments and practical sessions), fireline safety modules, practical water pump operations on the skid units, hand signals, radio comms, fitness assessments, resource management and administration, fuel management, reporting and more.
Nearly 80 managers will attend this course over a seven-week period and include General Operations Managers (GOMs), Regional Managers (RMs) and Assistant RMs (ARMs).
“Since our personnel operate in a high-risk environment, we need to ensure they have the skills and knowledge required to conduct their tasks as safely and effectively as possible in order to reduce risks,” explains Amor Adlem, WOF Transport Manager, coordinating this training. “We are confident that this training course will address these needs.”
According to Kishugu Training Operations Manager, Steven Alderson, this is a tough but “lekker” course. “It covers everything one needs to know on how to safely operate a WOF 4x4 vehicle – from fitness to practical skills to paperwork.”
Thabiso Mohale, GOM for Mpumalanga, says that this training course was definitely worth it. “We learnt about safety procedures, how to select 4x4 gears, drive through water, drive over ridges, up and down steep, slippery slopes, twisty turns, over a gully… I am very excited by it and am looking forward to using these new skills this coming winter fire season.”