Despite why you chose a career in the fire service — to help people, excitement, tradition, opportunity, etc. — the fact remains that it is one of the most dangerous professions out there. In our line of work, minutes and seconds count.
That's why it's imperative to use our time as efficiently as possible — both out on calls and back at the station. One way to maximize productive use of time occurs at the beginning of your tour of duty during the morning truck checkout.
When money and time are stretched to their limits, shortcuts proliferate. Overtaxed fire crews may begin pencil whipping what they believe are routine tasks involving equipment and apparatus maintenance. While this may seem like a minor issue, in reality it is an insidious disease—because overlooking a small check can explode into big trouble.
We’ve all read stories about what can happen when needed maintenance is not performed. Take the Charlotte Fire Department truck that malfunctioned and overturned on its way to an emergency call in May of 2014. According to WCNC TV, “the crew was headed down a hill on Ardrey Kell Road when the auxiliary brake failed to engage. The truck skidded as the driver attempted to turn the truck right on Bridgehampton Club Drive, and then rolled onto its roof. The truck briefly caught fire after the crash. An internal investigation will be conducted. The damage is estimated to be $800,000.”