Those that make the right purchases and keep the vehicles on the road can provide better services to their communities. There are many ways to gain insight into fleet management, but one of the most beneficial is to visit with those who manufacture, sell, and maintain apparatus. This is not to discount other research methods but more to emphasize the value in learning from those who are most knowledgeable and often most passionate.
There is an opportunity for those with apparatus responsibilities to attend a unique event that can only help when buying or setting up maintenance of vehicles, and it is the 27th Annual Fire Department Safety Officers Association Apparatus Specification and Safety Symposium. This conference is held in conjunction with the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA) and brings together practitioners, manufacturers, suppliers, technicians, and fire professionals in a format that provides valuable insight and information to everyone in attendance. The Symposium is scheduled for January 18-20, 2015, in Buena Vista, Florida, just outside of Orlando. More specific information can be found at www.fdsoa.org.
The upcoming symposium promises to be an outstanding event, and Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment is a partner in delivering this critical information to the attendees. An informed consumer is more likely to be successful than one who doesn’t possess enough information. Learning from those with specific knowledge about the various components of apparatus in workshops and having the opportunity to “pick their brains” in a one-on-one setting is not only a great opportunity to stay current, but it can also prevent costly mistakes. What you learn during the formal sessions or informal networking between the workshops could make a big difference relative to your apparatus needs.
Every department needs apparatus that is cost-effective to purchase and maintain. It is not just about the price but also reliability. Fire trucks that are not on the road cannot help citizens. There is no doubt that price is a major consideration, but reliability has to be a significant factor. In the government world, where “low bid” is the norm regarding purchasing, departments must be as prepared as possible to acquire the best apparatus that provide reliability and confidence within the financial constraints of the community. Knowledge, even relatively minor bits of information, leads to better decision making. Trucks that are purchased and stay in service with the right routine maintenance should be everyone’s goal.
The program and visits with vendors are what make this event unique and beneficial. Gordon Graham will lead off the symposium with his perspective on risk management relative to issues affecting apparatus. He is one of the most widely known and respected presenters in the public safety arena. Those who have heard him speak leave with tools that will help throughout their careers.
The remainder of the program includes speakers from the fire service and vendor companies who have a wealth of knowledge on the topics they will present. Attendees will have the chance to hear about virtually every aspect of fire apparatus. Included will be presentations on components, maintenance, standards, and specification writing. Attendees will also get to attend a session on the political side of apparatus purchasing and maintenance.
Throughout the conference, opportunities will exist to spend quality time during breaks to talk directly to vendors and manufacturers’ representatives regarding their products. Those who know do not underestimate the value of these interactions. It is here where attendees not only gain insight but also work to improve relationships that pay off for a long time. Knowing the players with whom you will do business is extremely important when looking to get the most reliable apparatus and equipment for the best price. This is a great opportunity to shop and become an informed consumer.
The FDSOA, FAMA, and Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment understand the challenges facing many departments regarding gaining approval to attend conferences that are out of their state or perceived to be “junkets.” Those who have attended can attest that this symposium is a great opportunity to help save your organization money when buying what it needs, improving reliability, and getting ideas for better maintenance. With little effort, you can learn ways to save money that will easily exceed the cost of the trip. As this event is rapidly approaching, do some research and find out why it is important to you and your organization to attend. Show up, participate, and reap the rewards. You won’t be sorry.
RICHARD MARINUCCI is chief of the Northville Township (MI) Fire Department. He retired as chief of the Farmington Hills (MI) Fire Department in 2008, a position he had held since 1984. He is a Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board member, a past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and past chairman of the Commission on Chief Fire Officer Designation. In 1999, he served as acting chief operating officer of the U.S. Fire Administration for seven months. He has a master’s degree and three bachelor’s degrees in fire science and administration and has taught extensively.