Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has become the first fire fleet in the country to earn national accreditation from, the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists), for its ‘blue light’ fleet driver training programme.

The UK’s leading road safety charity and fleet training expert recognised the scheme for its focus on raising the driving standards of their fire-fighters and officers when driving to emergencies in a fire engine or an officer’s car.

Seb Goldin, Managing Director of IAM Fleet said: “Nottinghamshire is the first fire and rescue service in the country to be awarded this accreditation and has set a standard which I hope other similar organisations will wish to follow. It would be excellent if IAM were to be regarded as the national standard for driver training in the fire service, giving the public greater confidence in their emergency services.”
The Nottingham fire and rescue fleet consists of 109 operational vehicles including fire engines, support vehicles, and 4×4 and crew cab vehicles.

Emergency Fire Appliance Driver (EFAD) training for Nottinghamshire fire-fighters used to be a four day course. It has now been extended to encompass 10 days of training in Roadcraft, legislation and legal exemptions, vehicle characteristics, eco driving and skid prevention and control theory. IAM has assessed the scope and level of training in the fleet against its own criteria, and given its endorsement to the course.

The Emergency Light Vehicle Driving (ELVD) course for officers responding to emergencies in cars has also been subject to similar assessment by IAM Fleet and awarded the same accreditation.

The focus for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) was improving the quality of driver training, but there are other benefits as well. Students who do particularly well during training will be invited to become personal members of the IAM, and will be exempt from the standard IAM Advanced Driving Test. NFRS has seen its insurance premium cut by about £100,000 per year, partly thanks to its new and more comprehensive training programme.

Adrian Garner, Driver Training Manager at NFRS, led the project, and is delighted with the result of four years’ work. “A lot of people have put a huge amount of effort into redesigning our training course and I am confident that our drivers will be trained to a very high standard, whether they are driving a fire engine or an officer’s car.

“This is important for their own safety, for the safety of colleagues travelling with them, and for members of the public who may encounter them on the roads when responding to an emergency.”

Nottinghamshire’s success has already excited interest from fire and rescue services in other parts of the country, keen to find out how the courses were developed.

Andy Beale, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at NFRS, has been a member of the IAM for nearly 20 years. “This is a great achievement for us,” he said. “Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of its training, and accreditation from a respected organisation such as IAM Fleet gives valuable credibility to what has been achieved.

“We are pleased to be seen as leading the way in this area, and I know that other fire and rescue services are already interested in learning from us. We look forward to being able to share our experiences with other organisations so that, collectively, we can raise the standard of emergency driving.”

For more information about the IAM’s Advanced Driving courses, please visit www.iam.org.uk.