Blue Ash Fire Department extends driver training at Summit Park | News
BLUE ASH, OH (FOX19) - The Blue Ash Fire Department announced that they are working to train their personnel and collaborating with other departments to create synergy.
When it comes to learning how to drive a 40 foot long truck that weighs roughly 60,000 pounds, training doesn’t begin to compare to high school driver’s education class. Instead, it requires at least “one hundred traffic cones set up in eight separate testing areas, similar to an obstacle course. Our drivers weave in and out, parallel park, maneuver diminishing clearance and more,” according to Blue Ash Assistant Fire Chief Chris Theders.
Accommodating the vehicles and multiple levels of testing by several departments isn’t an easy task, he continued. The Blue Ash Fire Department has two stations staffed 24/7 with 31 full-time firefighter/paramedics or EMTs and 17 part-time firefighter/paramedics or EMTs, all of whom require some level of driver testing.
“It’s difficult to find the needed open space as well as surfaces that can handle the maneuvers,” agreed Blue Ash Assistant City Manager Kelly Harrington. “Our Fire Department had been conducting driver’s training, including maneuvering the ladder truck, engines, and medic units through cones at a local businesses during off hours,” she continued.
“On the weekends, Triplefin let us use their large open lot, and it worked well. We really appreciate them letting us use their space when they didn’t need it,” Theders explained. Word of the friendly partnership soon spread to other departments.
The City of Blue Ash recently took possession of 130 acres of former Cincinnati airport property to develop into a regional park. Summit Park, which celebrated an opening ceremony in October 2012, currently features a paved taxiway, two former hangars, open fields, and woods with some newly cut trails. Theders thought it would be big enough and appropriate for large, heavy fire trucks. He worked with City officials and Chuck Funk, Blue Ash Parks and Recreation Director, to make the idea a reality.
“The training area on the former airport property is accessed from a separate gate from park and walking area, so we can leave the cones and course set up indefinitely,” Theders noted, which makes it easier for the multiple departments to take advantage of the course. Evendale Fire Department also began using the space for drivers training, as the land is adjacent to its department’s jurisdiction.
“Sharing the space for training is one of the many ways our Fire Department collaborates with other departments in the area,” Harrington said. Beyond the neighborly sharing of space for drivers training, Blue Ash FD is also a member of the Northeast Fire Collaborative (NEFC), which also includes Loveland/Symmes, the City of Mason, the City of Sharonville, and Sycamore Township Fire Departments.