Last March, SVI Trucks unveiled a custom mobile driver-training unit that was built for the Calgary Fire Department. The vehicle lets the department take driver training to various fire stations and train drivers with simulators. The dedicated training vehicle also means the department doesn’t have to take any vehicles out of service or use older reserve units for education.
The department currently has just under 1,300 personnel who operate out of 38 fire stations, with three new stations opening over the next two years. The idea for the driver-training unit came from Fire Chief Bruce Burrell and Asst. Chief Greg Wilkes, who took a keen interest in driver-training simulators while attending a conference.
The 22-foot rig is built on a Spartan Gladiator chassis with an aluminum walk-in body. Inside the body are two Doron Precision 460 simulators that offer two driver trainees true-to-life virtual driving environments. The scenario developer can be used to recreate collisions for remedial and regular training.
The Calgary Fire Department does not have a separate classification of drivers, and the impetus for the training program was the rapid growth of the department.
“Part of what we recognized our work force was that 46% of our personnel have under five years on the job,” Asst. Chief Tyler Pelke said. “And based on our rank structure, we had a lot of junior people driving trucks. We don’t have a classification of chauffeur or driver engineers.”
The Driver Training Unit will be housed at the training academy, and on-shift trainers will develop a schedule that takes the unit to the different quadrants in the department throughout the year. The vehicle is designed to run either independently of the fire station through generator power or brought the inside the station to run off of shore power.