A reader at The Hartford Courant (CT) writes that maintenance, outside training, may be the most important aspect of the fire service.
In 1990, a poorly maintained pumper truck led to the deaths of two Connecticut firefighters. On route to a call, the truck ran off the road and hit a large tree when the driver lost control on a steep downgrade. The fire engine carried five firefighters: two were fatally injured, one sustained moderate injuries and the driver and remaining firefighters walked away with only minor injuries. A special investigation found the cause of the wreck to be under-inflated tires, excessively worn steering components and brakes that were out of adjustment.
Keeping equipment in condition ensures it will respond when it counts. At the end of each month, the HFVC conducts “truck checks.” Every truck, at all 3 stations, is looked over to make sure all the equipment is where it’s supposed to be, in proper working order. This includes the department’s all-terrain Gator and Marine-13 rescue boat.
Members first pull Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus off the trucks and put them through a comprehensive service test. Once that’s done, they open compartments and inventory the equipment against a checklist. Small power tools like saws are taken out, run and fluids are checked.
In addition to truck checks, each year the department’s large apparatus are sent out to a facility in Cromwell where they receive a detailed mechanical inspection and DOT inspection. Not all departments do that.
For more information, view www.courant.com