ON November 11, 2012, Fire-fighter Mark Haudenschild II, 26, was killed when the water tanker he was driving overturned while he was responding to a brush fire near Fort Wayne IN. He left a wife and two young children. He was a volunteer with the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department serving his community.
Too many firefighters have been killed or injured in water tanker/tender rollovers while responding to emergencies, says Jim Shaeffer, president of McKenzie Tank Lines, Tallahassee FL, and chairman of National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC). To address that concern, NTTC produced a new version of the Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention Video it developed with the US Department of Transportation to help educate water tanker drivers on the special characteristics of tank truck vehicles and the actions they can take to avoid rollovers.
“While this DVD was originally developed for commercial tank truck drivers, the principles of tank truck vehicle dynamics, road challenges, and safe driving practices it presents are equally applicable to water tankers used in emergency response,” Shaeffer says. “I know we will use this DVD in our outreach to firefighters and LEPCs (Local Emergency Planning Councils) in the areas in which we operate. It is especially appropriate that we introduce this material at our Annual Safety Conference in Denver (CO). Safety is the core mission of NTTC.”
Fire department water tanker rollovers are not a new phenomenon. The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report on Firefighter Deaths from Tanker Truck Rollovers in 2001. That report showed there had been 62 deaths from water tanker rollovers from 1977-1999. The report did not include the injuries. The ability to track media and other reports on such crashes today shows that they continue to be a real issue of concern. Firefighters continue to be killed and injured in these usually preventable crashes.
The original 20-minute video was produced by DOT, with NTTC input, in 2010 following increased industry and government concerns about the number of tank truck rollovers. It focuses on: Tank truck vehicle design; cargo/load factors; highway factors; and driver factors. The video features real tank truck drivers who share their experiences, different types of tank truck equipment and detailed graphics, and various highway challenges. The video has been translated into French, Spanish and Japanese.
The video was based in part on information developed in 2007 in a detailed cargo tank rollover report prepared for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) by Battelle. Among information in that report was that over 75% of rollovers are caused by a driver’s action or inaction; the majority of rollovers are single vehicle crashes that occur on straight dry roadways (not exit ramps as is often thought); and that about one-quarter of tanker rollovers involve straight trucks where the tank sits on the truck body.
“I am delighted that we can help extend the very important safety message of the Cargo Tank Rollover Prevention Video to the fire service,” says Tim Butters, deputy administrator of DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and former chief fire officer with the Fairfax City (Virginia) Fire Department. “We continue to see vehicle rollovers involving fire department apparatus, particularly tenders/tankers used for transporting large volumes of water. Understanding how to safety operate these vehicles will help reduce rollover accidents. Vehicle accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of firefighter injuries and fatalities. I will strongly encourage my colleagues in the fire and emergency response service to include this training video in their emergency vehicle driver/operator safety training and driver refresher programs. Emergency responders provide a critical public safety service to their communities, and we want to return home safely.”
NTTC President Dan Furth says: “We have been pleased with the response to the original video and hope that this version directed to the fire community will become a tool for training drivers who perform such a valuable service to us all. The DVD is free for downloading from our website www.tanktruck.org and we encourage everyone to help spread this safety outreach to anyone who can benefit from it. Many of our NTTC members already work with fire departments in their operating areas and we know that this information will help in the training they provide.”
A free copy of the DVD can be obtained for review and reproduction by contacting NTTC at 703/838-1960, by email to [email protected], or by mail to NTTC, 950 N Glebe Rd, Arlington VA 22203. If large amounts of copies are desired, we can put people in touch with our video company for obtaining copies. None of this material is copyright-protected. National Tank Truck Carriers Inc is the trade association of the tank truck industry.