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Gordon Graham Addresses Attendees at Apparatus Specification & Safety Symposium

By Chris Mc Loone

Most of us have heard about Gordon Graham. He’s a well-known speaker whose specialty is risk management. When fire department personnel think of risk management, we think of identifying risks in our response areas, categorizing them, and coming up with resource deployment plans for each type of occupancy. We don’t often think of apparatus purchasing, operating, and maintaining as part of our risk management plan.

Graham’s discussion at this year’s FDSOA Apparatus Specification and Safety Symposium, held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, applied risk management principles to all facets of apparatus operation.

There are any number of ways to identify and mitigate risks in your apparatus fleets to prevent tragedies from occurring. He illustrated his points by applying the seven rules of Admiral Hyman Rickover. But, the underlying point to any risk management program—whether for apparatus fleets or a high-risk commercial occupancy—is to identify “problems lying in wait.”

Take an apparatus rollover. It is not difficult to identify the proximate cause of the rollover—a mechanical malfunction, or excessive speed, or another reason. But, what was the problem lying in wait? Was it an inexperienced, undertrained operator? Was it a poor preventive maintenance program? What was the problem lying in wait? “Real risk managers don’t stop with the proximate causes. They go back and seek the answer,” says Graham. “If you ignore these problems lying in wait, sooner or later all the holes in the Swiss cheese will line up.”

Check back for more reports from the 2015 FDSOA Apparatus Specification & Safety Symposium.