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It’s 3 AM when an alerter goes off and wakes a firefighter from a sound sleep. In mere minutes, he must be up, dressed, and climbing into the cab of the fire truck to head off to yet another emergency. It’s something that happens all the time, yet something very few of us think about.

Why mention it in our blog? Because the firefighter who drives the fire truck must be fully trained and licensed as an HGV driver. In terms of the pure technical skill needed, it is no different to driving an articulated HGV or the largest of horseboxes. What makes this type of driving different is the pressure of emergency situations.

HGV Training a Small Part of the Package

To the fire truck driver, the HGV training is just a small portion of a more comprehensive program he must undergo. In fact, it may be the easiest portion of the firefighter’s training. Above and beyond just driving the truck, the firefighter must learn how to safely enter burning buildings, effectively combat structure fires, and save lives. Such a career is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.

In terms of driving a fire truck, the firefighter with the HGV license must also deal with the adrenaline rush of responding to an alarm. That requires extra self-control behind the wheel. Whatever the drivers of non-emergency HGVs have to deal with — things like heavy traffic, cyclists, and bad weather — is multiplied 10 times over when responding to an emergency. Driving a fire truck safely requires nerves of steel.

Drivers in large cities like London have the added difficulties of narrow and very congested streets. It takes a lot of skill to navigate a fire truck through the streets of London while responding to a fire alarm.

What HGV Training Entails

Whether an individual wants to drive a commercial lorry or a fire truck, the HGV training is the same. It requires preparation time prior to taking the 100-question theory test in order to begin practical training. The theory test is broken into two sections: general highway knowledge and hazard prevention. In order to sit for a theory test one needs to pass a medical exam and apply for provisional entitlement.

With the passing grade on the theory test, a driver can begin his or her practical training. Practical training starts in the classroom where drivers will learn all the aspects of operating an HGV. They will be taught how to perform safety inspections, potential hazards to watch for, and the like. Then they will be put behind the wheel for some hands-on training. When all is complete, the driver takes his or her practical skills test at a certified testing centre.

If you already have an HGV licence and want to help your local community, consider applying for a position as a retained firefighter. Many of the UK’s the smaller towns have openings ready to be filled. You receive a good part-time pay as well as the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to protect your community.


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