The following guidelines are for backing fire apparatus into stations and for backing up required during the performance of firefighting duties. Priority must be given to the safety of citizens and firefighters in any backing up operation.


Backing up fire apparatus can be dangerous as the driver may not be able to see the hazards or people behind the apparatus.

Actions for employers

Employers should ensure that firefighters follow safe procedures for backing up fire apparatus.

Backing into a fire station

The apparatus should come to a full stop in front of the station with the headlights, emergency lights and 4-way flashers turned on. This allows firefighters to dismount safely and assist the driver while backing up.

Firefighters posted on either side of the apparatus, but not on the roadway, should assist the driver in determining when it is safe to proceed. Flashlights and high visibility safety apparel can be used in low visibility. The duty of firefighters assisting in backing up is to control pedestrian traffic and to assist the driver in backing the apparatus onto the ramp and into the station using agreed upon hand signals. Firefighters must stay in a safe position in full view of the driver. If the driver loses sight of a guiding firefighter, the apparatus should stop immediately.

If the driver of a vehicle does not have a full view of the vehicle’s intended path of travel, regulation requires that the driver must only move the vehicle as directed by a signaller who is a competent person and who is stationed:

  • in full view of the driver
  • with a full view of the intended path of travel of the vehicle
  • clear of the intended path of travel of the vehicle

Where there are insufficient members of a crew available to assist the driver to back into a station, additional firefighters at the station should be asked to provide the necessary assistance.

Stopping traffic should be avoided. See Guidance note 6-10: Highway traffic control if it is necessary to stop traffic.

Backing at other locations

Drivers should:

  • avoid backing up whenever possible
  • plan ahead when parking, so backing up is not necessary
  • have firefighters assist them, as outlined above, if backing up is unavoidable
  • if firefighters are unavailable, dismount and walk completely around the apparatus before backing up to ensure there are no unseen obstacles behind the apparatus

Employers may wish to refer to Guidance note 6-10: Highway traffic control, if applicable.

Backing of tankers

Backing of tankers during water shuttle operations is often unavoidable and should be done as carefully as possible to avoid accidents and injury.

Firefighters should:

  • position dump chutes for dumping prior to the final backing to the Port-a-tank
  • consider the remote control of the dump valve from the side of the truck or from the cab so firefighters do not have to operate from the back of the vehicle
  • ensure a Water Supply Officer is assigned to control the movement of tankers and keep firefighters clear of tankers when backing up
  • wear high visibility safety apparel when assigned to direct tankers and/or operate filling or dumping operations

Applicable regulations and acts


Applicable standards

CSA High-visibility safety apparel standard (Z96-15) for guidance on colours and reflective striping for traffic vests