Thursday, April 7, 2011

Killing Cones

Another season opens around this time of year besides baseball. It's not deer season, nor is it trout season. It's a much easier prey, one that does not move. It's open season on traffic cones.

There is an engineer's test coming up in the next few months, so potential candidates are out practicing their skills on the various types of apparatus that we operate. The exercise depicted above is two lines of traffic cones that are slowly converging until the last pair are exactly 2 inches wider than the track width of the apparatus. In other words, the operator is squeezing the unit into a space exactly 2 inches wider than the unit.

In addition, the unit is driven into the convergent lane at a speed of approximately 15 mph and must stop at within 12 inches of a cone placed 25 feet from the end of the lane. It's not that difficult if you are able to practice, however it is sometimes hard for candidates to be able to practice on all of the numerous makes/models of  engines that our agency uses.

The front pair of cones are worth 5 points each, the second 10, the third 15 etc. If you hit the stopping cone, it's automatic failure, 5 points are subtracted for each 6 inches you are away from the stopping cone. In the picture above, a candidate would be gigged five points on cones. An 80 is required to pass the task.

As I rarely drive, I was happy with the consistent 90 average that I pulled all morning.

Another task for the candidates to perform is parallel parking. Cone spacing measurements are based on the size of the unit. Other than that it's just  like the old DMV test.

 Each cone snagged is a 10 point deduction and the rig must be within 12 inches of the curb, but not touching it. I didn't do this today, I donated my time to some guys that are getting ready for the test. Still, it was fun to watch.

As you can see, traffic cones are pretty much treated like crap during traffic cone season. If we are lucky, we can borrow some off of a cop car or a road dept. truck parked at the county maintenance yard. We always take them back after the drill, they just might be a little bent or marked up.

Good luck to all the people studying for the engineer's test, I hope you get all of the practice time you need. From the looks of the above pictures, you just might need it.

Thanks for reading,


  1. So thats why my new cones are all scuffed up. I think I should get to drive the tiller for giggles then.

  2. Mr. Police Man - OK, those MIGHT have been your cones, you would know for sure if we had plastered the underside of the trunk lid and the inside of the fuel filler hatch with Jr Firefighter sticker badges.

    If you got the stickers, we took your cones.