LENEXA, Kan. — Over the past year, there have been three crashes in Kansas City involving fire department vehicles.

One of them, was deadly. Now FOX4 is looking into what it takes to learn how to operate these vehicles.

When a fire truck is dispatched the most important thing is the safety of the firefighters and the people on the road.

“My eyes are primarily on traffic I have to see what’s coming ahead of me, know where some dangerous spots might be” said one of the firefighters.

Seconds do matter — but reaching the site of an emergency safely is the top priority.

“We don’t want to create a second emergency, so we want to get to the first emergency as safely and as quickly as possible,” said Ben Cernech, a battalion chief with the Lenexa fire Department.

Firefighters say the job of driving a fire truck — is perhaps the hardest job on the crew.

“The first 10 to 15 minutes of a fire emergency that driver operator is the most important and busiest person on the scene,” Cernech said.

Lenexa fire truck operators have to train for a year before they can even take the test. Their job starts with driving, but also includes connecting the hoses to a fire hydrant — the 750 gallons in this pumper last less than five minutes.

Then running the pressure in the hoses — described as taking the math portion of the ACT with a fire behind you.

“It’s a step system you can’t move on to the next step if we’re not able to get quickly to a house – quickly and safely,” said Rick Wilson, a captain with the Lenexa Fire Department

It’s the knowledge of the truck that is also very key — size – dimensions – speed and it’s stopping ability.

This job is hard — not just the driving — but running into houses and building that contain people’s livelihoods. The Lenexa fire department does rigorous training, so they’re prepared when called upon — doing their best to save lives.

“If we’re not able to quickly do all of those things and get them connected then we’re not going to be a able to fully protect our citizens,” Wilson said.

The job is high stakes but the consensus here is they love what they do.

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