It’s called preventive maintenance for a reason. Because – when done consistently – it can prevent costly, time-consuming, and sometimes deadly failures. But too many fire districts assume that annual inspections constitute preventive maintenance. The fact is, if departments rely only on annual inspections, they could be costing their districts up to 30% of their apparatus maintenance budgets each year. Performing in-station maintenance checks and thorough pre-shift inspections can catch critical issues early on, before they become major problems for their departments.
With budgets as tight as ever, here's a tip from a utility government fleet that reduced their out of service time and catastrophic failures by 30% - all with a program that cost virtually nothing.
The Plan: In 2012, the Eugene Water & Electrical Board began requiring drivers of all vehicles to complete an inspection report. The inspections are scheduled and performed based on vehicle type, and consist of checking basic vehicle functions (fluid levels, tire pressure, lights, etc.) routinely. Repairs are made the same day or scheduled for another time, depending on severity. The goal of the program is to increase driver safety and reduce liability.
The Results: Although “there’s always pushback to change,” says fleet services supervisor Gary Lentsch, “our drivers have now formed the habit of inspecting vehicles before driving them.” And that has led to some pretty impressive results in just one year:
In a fire department, PM checks are even more critical – and potentially more beneficial. Not only are the apparatus bigger and more complex, but there is also more specialty equipment that needs to be maintained regularly. Plus, equipment failures in an emergency response fleet put much more at risk than just ambulances and fire trucks; they could put lives at risk as well.
Fire districts adopting similar in-house inspection programs have found that they operate more efficiently and save money in their budgets by catching the little things before they become big, expensive, and potentially unsafe problems.
No matter which industry, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
*Dao, Thi. ”Bright Ideas to Improve Your Fleet”. Government-Fleet.com. August 13, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2013.