Blue light training on CCTV

training with mobile cctv

Published:  08 May, 2009

A growing number of fire and rescue services are now unlocking the benefits of in-vehicle CCTV as an integral part of safety-critical blue light training, writes Jeremy Coleman, Sales Manager, Traffic Safety Systems (TSS).

Video captured in this way and linked to the recording of key metadata – such as the 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.


As the world turns to digital technology at an ever increasing pace, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that a growing proportion of fire and rescue services are following this trend and switching their old tape-based analogue CCTV systems for more flexible mobile digital solutions. A key advantage here is the potential to record two or more cameras simultaneously and then play them back as full screen images or side by side. It is also possible, crucially, to bookmark specific incidents, greatly simplifying the downloading and post event viewing process compared to analogue. Additionally, going digital does away with the headache of having to regularly change tapes – a new system typically can store approximately 40 hours worth of video footage.

Anatomy of mobile CCTV
Looking in more detail at the configuration of a typical solution, 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.
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue has already upgraded some systems to digital and is shortly to swap out more. Oxfordshire FRS Driver Training Manager Kevin Dell 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 FRS has a long track record of applying CCTV for driver training and was an early adopter of the concept, starting with 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.


“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,” says Kevin Dell, adding: “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.”


Looking ahead, TSS believes that 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.


In addition, TSS is now 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.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

Foam fights fire

Europe’s foremost fire fighting foam manufacturer has been developing and producing foams since the 1920s.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

Calendar