Firefighters drive a variety of fire department apparatus under both routine and emergency response conditions. These apparatus can range from off-road vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), utility vehicles (UTVs) and snowmobiles to automobiles and heavy trucks.


Each apparatus has different control and handling characteristics. Unsafe operation can result in injury or death to workers.

Actions for employers

Employers must:

  • provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker

Employers should:

  • provide drivers with both theoretical and practical training in defensive driving skills for each type of apparatus
  • allow sufficient time when scheduling the practical driving skills portion of the course to enable drivers to develop their defensive driving skills
  • consider a graduated program for drivers of heavier-than-normal apparatus or specialized apparatus to allow for appropriate specific training

Considerations for training

Theoretical training should include:

  • the effect of weight and speed on braking and stopping distances
  • the effects of centrifugal force on apparatus during turning
  • the effects of slope on roll over for off-road apparatus
  • fire department limitations on terrain to be traversed for off-road apparatus
  • the effect of inertia and weight distribution related to changing the heading or direction of apparatus
  • the effect of tire friction related to driving traction, braking traction and cornering traction
  • the effect of various weather conditions on the braking, steering control and stopping distances, and the ability of workers to recognize and adapt to these conditions

Practical training should include the following skills:

  • a serpentine exercise with change of direction
  • an evasive exercise for steering around an object
  • controlled braking exercise
  • backing exercise
  • off-road vehicles should be driven on terrain conditions that may be encountered in emergency situations
  • skid control
  • off-road recovery exercise
  • emergency response driving

Additional training should be provided for aerial devices and tankers due to their size and weight.

Applicable regulations and acts


  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
    • clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
    • clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers


Read firefighter guidance notes: