By Chris Mc Loone
It isn’t often you get to sit down with someone who’s been with a company from its inception. It’s also not often you find yourself in the presence of a person who can say the fire truck in the room that hails from 1975. When you do, you sit down with him right away. In this case, the person is Bill Foster, a mainstay in the fire service.
Foster is also the man who recognized 25 years ago the need to provide technicians with an opportunity to get the education they need to stay abreast of new developments as fire apparatus evolve and stay up to date on their EVT certifications. In a nutshell, Foster says the core mission of the Fire Truck Training Conference is to “Give people education on all of the new methods of repair and operating electronics and testing and using the self-diagnostic devices that are installed in onboard diagnostics (OBD) so that they can do a better job quicker.”
Today’s fire apparatus have become more and more sophisticated, and the speed at which they are evolving increases every year. This conference provides not only an opportunity for technicians to prepare for their certifications, but also provides an opportunity to meet with industry partners to learn more about the products that go into the apparatus we ride every day.
To that end, this year’s conference offered 294 attendees 46 classes to choose from, ranging from sessions designed for the operator, engineer, or equipment officers who want to learn basic operation and maintenance at an introductory level; maintenance technicians at the service repair level; and heavy repair technicians interested in receiving hands-on, in-depth, technical training. You may have noticed that 46 classes for 294 attendees means classes could be small. According to Foster, that is by design. “We’re running 15 tracks at a time and the advantage of that is to have lower numbers in the classrooms so you can get face time with the instructor and hands on. That’s important.”
Additionally, attendees have the opportunity to take their EVT certification tests at the conference. At this year’s event, 323 EVT tests were taken.
At an awards ceremony as the first full day of classes closed, Foster presented the William F. Foster Excellence and Outstanding Service Award to Gary May. During his remarks after accepting the award, May summed up the core of the Fire Truck Training Conference. “Nobody does this by ourselves,” he said. “Knowledge is no good if you keep it hidden.”
For 25 years, Spartan has worked to ensure that today’s EVTs are prepared as fire apparatus continue to evolve.