BANNER ELK – Banner Elk Volunteer Fire and Rescue held one of its many mandatory training drills on Saturday, Feb. 26, featuring Emergency Vehicle Driver Training, or EVD. The drills employed are used to improve the firefighter’s ability to operate the large, 13-foot-high specialty trucks.
Deputy Chief Will Treen noted that all firefighters must complete the training annually if they wish to drive the trucks, but it is an optional course.
The training involved multiple trucks and a cone course where volunteers practiced large vehicle mobility, serpentine drills, as well as moving forward and backward.
“We use these training drills to keep our emergency vehicle driving. It’s a great training opportunity for new firefighters and for firefighters who have been doing it for a long time,” Treen said. “It’s not like driving your car or your truck. This keeps us fresh and helps keep our community safe by keeping our skills sharp and clean.
EVD training is used to practice precise maneuvers, while on the road, driver training highlights the real element of traffic and roadways. One of the major influences on EVD training is keeping firefighters in tune with the range of motion and height of the vehicle, with the most important factor being weight and the need for increased stopping distances.
Not all firefighters have to take this particular training, but members who want to drive the trucks must.
“These fine people are putting in extra time to be more dedicated,” said BEVFR leader Tyler Burr.
BEVFR has a total of eight vehicles: two medical units, three motors, a ladder, a brush unit, and an equipment/rescue unit, one of which is a large blue ladder truck acquired in Pennsylvania, which BEVFR calls “Baby the Big”. Blue buffalo.
A total of nine volunteers out of a list of 25 participated in the training seminar. Currently, 18 BEFR volunteers are certified to drive specialized motor vehicles.
“Our drivers did a great job today,” Treen said of the crowddrivers. “I saw a lot of improvement in the slightly experienced pilots and an opportunity for new recruits to drive the machine. It was a very successful training day.
BEVFR, one of the county‘s busiest stations, would benefit greatly from an increased volunteer workforce, as well as a fairer budget system, Burr said. The number of calls, the total population, the passing tourist population and being in the city with the most commercial structures all contribute to the massive number of calls for BEVFR.
“The funding structure needs to be reassessed and looked at in terms of better protection for what we need to protect. We don’t want to feel like we’re willing to not provide adequate protection,” Burr said. “We want to be able to operate on a budget to give the city the protection it deserves,” Burr added.
The Avery County Fire Commission, which currently decides budget allocations for each station, allocates funds equally to each station, regardless of call volume, infrastructure, population, and site specifics. town.
“Traditional fundraising no longer has the heat it once had. We write an awful lot of grant applications because of the funding structure,” Burr said of securing more operational funding. “There is a lot of time and labor spent writing grants, which takes away from operations. Our department is very proactive in writing grant applications at all levels. We couldn’t function without the grants.
The majority of grant funds are allocated to equipment, secondarily to volunteer retention.
Burr noted a few specific items that would improve the volunteer department’s protective services and contribute to the overall effectiveness of the program, including supplementing other professional 24-hour cover staff, increasing the number of volunteers, and changing current funding. structure.
The by-products of achieving these components would allow BEVFR to reduce response time, reduce property insurance premiums based on insurance rating, and produce more opportunities to increase volunteerism. .
As things stand, the concept and effectiveness of volunteer services is a huge boost to any community.
“Volunteer fire stations are one of the most economical public services,” Burr said, “The operating budget is a burden, but we need the manpower.”
Organic variances in response time are natural for a volunteer service and are a functional challenge, but the growth of the city also presents another set of challenges.
“The increase in infrastructure leads to alarms, inspections, gas leaks. Routine calls become overwhelming,” Burr noted.
The BEFR had to adapt to his directives, completing whole sections of grants and becoming more dedicated to the cause.
“The volunteers we have are extremely dedicated,” Burr said. “We train every Monday evening and at least one Saturday a month. We have a very frequent training schedule and room for additional training. The uniqueness of calls leads to greater preparation. Our goal is to be ready when the call comes. Every effort is made to improve the safety and survival rate.
Burr emphasized the adventurous aspect of being part of a team that can make a huge difference in your community.
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Burr noted, “We can do real, fun things. You can’t put a dollar figure on doing this stuff. We get training opportunities that you would never have the opportunity to experience. We love training. This is the second most inspiring thing about being a firefighter. The equipment we train with, the camaraderie, the improvement in our skills all adds up to a greater sense of accomplishment in handling a real emergency.
Some of the other training exercises on the BEFR file are “doll’s house” burns to demonstrate fire behavior and airflow, vehicle extraction, medical training, and rope rescue training. Over the past month, BEVFR has successfully dealt with a fully enveloped car fire and a residential ceiling fire.
“We pride ourselves on the amount of rescue we provide,” Burr said.
BEFR will hold community CPR classes at Station 1 starting March 21. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter for Banner Elk can contact Megan Lewis at [email protected] or contact us via direct message on Banner Elk Volunteer Fire and Rescue social media.