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TSS spotlights mobile CCTV for fire service driver training

Published on 8 June 2009

Fire driver training in action: many fire and rescue services are unlocking the benefits of in-vehicle mobile CCTV systems (such as those produced by TSS) for fire driver training
Many fire services are using in-vehicle mobile CCTV for fire driver training
Benefits of in-vehicle systems provides a powerful fire driver training tool

TSS (Traffic Safety Systems) - part of AD Group - is highlighting the growing number of fire and rescue services who are unlocking the benefits of in-vehicle mobile CCTV as an integral part of safety-critical driver training.

Commented Jeremy Coleman, Sales Manager at TSS: "Video captured in this way and linked to the recording of key metadata - such as a fire engine's speed - undoubtedly provides a powerful resource, allowing the performance of trainee drivers to be reviewed in great detail after each training run. The ultimate aim, of course, is to ensure that driver trainees undergo an effective assessment to reach a safe standard and, crucially, to assist the instructor to provide the help and guidance needed to achieve this."

A standard installation for driver training comprises two CCTV cameras, one to give a view ahead of the vehicle (as the driver would see) and a fixed wide angled camera focused on the driver to capture their actions. Some operators have also opted for additional cameras to capture images from behind and to the sides of their fire engines. The installed DVR (Digital Video Recorder) records all cameras simultaneously and has an associated on-screen display detailing vehicle speed, activation of blues, sirens, indicators and brakes to assist when de-briefing driving students. Video can also be played back inside the vehicle for a 'hot de-brief' or can be downloaded and reviewed back in the classroom.

TSS works closely with a large proportion of fire services in the UK supplying mobile CCTV solutions, fitting out vehicles and training customers in the use of this technology. One such customer is Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue, which has already upgraded some systems to digital and is shortly to swap out more.

Kevin Dell, Oxfordshire's Driver Training Manager is a firm advocate of CCTV in the context of driver training: "Things can be pretty hectic in-cab during blue light driver training. Although, given my experience, I will pick-up on things without the CCTV being there, in many cases because everything is happening so quickly the trainee driver may simply not notice a specific behaviour at the time or even be able to recall it later when it is flagged-up.

"Now with ready access to the CCTV footage, captured by the forward facing cab mounted camera, I can sit down with the driver back at the station, after a run, and discuss the issues which have come out of the drive and, crucially, replay the relevant data. This makes it a very thorough and productive process. To draw an analogy, it is a bit like trying to tell someone where they are going wrong with their golf swing, it isn't until you actually show someone footage of their behaviour that, I believe, they can really appreciate where improvements can be made and they can adjust their approach accordingly. With driver training the ability to practice and put things right before going out on the roads for a real emergency is a prerequisite."

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue has a long track record applying CCTV for driver training. In fact it was very much an early adopter of the concept, starting with analogue, tape-based solutions, more than 10 years ago. Its' acknowledged expertise has also led to it providing this service as a resource for other brigades.

Commented Kevin Dell: "Driver training is a very intensive process for us and the trainees we work with, it really has to be given the issues involved. Everyday we have all of Oxfordshire's mobile CCTV equipped vehicles out on the road and similar vehicles from Buckinghamshire whose blue light training we also cover.

"We want drivers to be able to respond to an incident in a timely manner whilst ensuring the safety of other road users. The ability to identify, using CCTV, where people are going wrong at a training stage is crucial. Once the blue lights go on the person in control of a fast moving fire appliance has to be aware of how other road users are reacting to the blue lights - as the public's behaviour can change dramatically; consider their approach speed to traffic lights; move smoothly through traffic even, if necessary, crossing to the other side of the carriageway, and safely negotiate roundabouts - not an easy task with a 14 ton vehicle."

Said Jeremy Coleman, Sales Manager at TSS: "There is undoubtedly a growing demand for this type of mobile CCTV as a training aid, helping instructors to demonstrate the fairness of their assessment of trainees - through the review of footage - and to highlight where students can make all important improvements. With such measures in place the public can be assured that the safety of fire appliances on the road is being maximised. In addition, we are seeing fire services not only using video for driver training but also applying video systems more widely to combat other pressing issues such as crew protection in the face of anti-social behaviour."

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