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Navigating a Fuel Tanker Driver Role, Chloe Irvine

Published: 17 April 2023
Meet the Team , United Kingdom

Chloe Irvine, Operations Coordinator at ASCO, recently completed her dangerous goods (ADR) driving qualification and achieved an HGV Category C+E licence to pursue a role as a Fuel Tanker Driver.

Read below to learn about Chloe's journey so far and the challenges she has navigated in a typically male-dominated position.

My Role at ASCO

I am currently an Operations Coordinator for ASCO's Fuel and Lubricants business, primarily supporting the Aberdeen team, but also Great Yarmouth and Peterhead where required. My role is to assist with the safe and consistent running of all ASCO fuel terminals across the UK and work with the UK Fuel operations team to ensure the bulk liquids, fuels and base oil products we store are delivered safely to their destinations and customers.

Working full-time in the office, I had not previously had the opportunity to see all the operational side of the Fuels business, including what the drivers do, so I had not fully understood or appreciated the tasks our Tanker Drivers were undertaking. My Manager and I went to visit one of our fuel tankers in operation at Regent Quay, Aberdeen, which was delivering Marine Gas Oil (MGO) to a vessel in the harbour; it was after this visit and spending time with a Tanker Driver colleague, who explained all the aspects of his position that, I became interested in pursuing a role as a driver.

As part of my annual Personal Development Plan meeting, I first mentioned my interest in the role to my manager, Stuart Shiel. Despite my initial concerns over whether I could drive a bigger vehicle, load and unload a tanker, handle the hoses and equipment and an overall "is this the right job for a female?" uncertainty, I knew this was something I wanted to pursue and succeed at. I am very fortunate that Stuart could not have been more supportive of my goals.

My Driver Journey

Before I could begin, I had to attain a dangerous goods (ADR) vehicle driver qualification. I undertook the five-day course in June 2022, where I had to learn and revise three topics: Core, Flammable Liquids and Class 3 in tanks, before sitting an exam for each module. It was daunting to know that if I failed the first Core exam, I would fail them all, and it would be back to the start! Additionally, knowing that the role of a driver is very male-dominated, I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect from the training or the other participants. I was the only female on the course with 11 men, all of whom said they had never been on an ADR course with a female before; this was quite intimidating at first, but everyone was very welcoming and supportive.

I am proud to say that I received my ADR qualification and was delighted that my operational training could then begin. Initially, I sat in as a passenger to gain some familiarisation and appreciation of the size of the vehicles, including how to manoeuvre them on sites; this would eventually help me when the time came to sit my class C + E driving test. Gaining hands-on experience has been interesting but also challenging at times. There have been comments about how unusual it is to see a female lifting long bulky hoses and connections, doing a typically "male-orientated" job role; I also haven't seen another female working in a similar operational position on the quayside.

Whilst training, I have continued in my Operations Coordinator role, so working five days a week in the office while trying to attain my qualifications has been challenging. I had to revise outside of work to sit my theory, hazard perception and CPC module 2 and 4 for my C + E driving test. Unfortunately, I failed the theory and CPC Module 2 the first time, which was disappointing but did not deter me; I went back to studying and resat the tests successfully. I never once thought it would be a walk in the park and I really wanted to succeed.

Passing my theory and CPC Module 2 meant I could book my driving lessons and practical test, which took place in December 2022. Overall, this was a very intense course where I gained experience driving a 6-wheeler rigid, followed by driving and reversing an artic and trailer before sitting the tests. I was delighted to pass and see my hard work pay off. I am now gaining much more experience on the road, driving a class 1 petroleum tanker on the highways.

Next Steps

By sharing my story, I hope to inspire and empower any women to follow in my footsteps and challenge themselves to take on tasks or roles that are typically male-dominated; I assure you that we can do it!

I cannot thank my manager, Stuart, the Fuel's operational team and especially our fuels drivers for supporting my ambition. They have all been incredibly patient, helpful and supportive of me and allowed me the flexibility to fit the training and ongoing operational experience around my current role.

Although I have gained my qualifications, there is still so much more to look forward to and learn. I am really proud to be the first female class 1 petroleum tanker driver for ASCO Fuel and Lubricants, and I encourage all women out there to challenge themselves. If there is something you would like to do or have an interest in, please go for it!