Accounts of budget-challenged Detroit firefighters using pop cans, coins, door hinges, pipes and doorbells to get emergency alerts were alarming to say the least. But, in many ways, it's all too similar to fire departments continuing to use unreliable, outdated paper logs for equipment and apparatus maintenance checks.
Time to exit the fire bubble
Technology exists to establish bulletproof protocols for performing timely, complete and accurate maintenance checks.
It's time to get out of the fire bubble of complacency and head-in-the-sand thinking to handle this critical key to firefighting safety and performance. As we all know, a missed maintenance check today can lead to catastrophic consequences — imperiling people and property along the way. Those brakes that fail en route to a call, the SCBA regulator that malfunctions in a burning building, a jammed ladder mechanism are all poignant reminders.
This year, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) addressed the issue in a comprehensive report: "Poor maintenance of apparatus can result in vehicle system failures that lead to crashes. This is particularly true of braking systems. Several of the fatal fire apparatus crashes covered in the case history section of this report had their causes traced back to improperly maintained apparatus braking systems."
Affordable solutions are out there
Aside from addressing resistance to change, cost is always a concern. In Detroit's case, a software company stepped forward to donate needed technology.
Of course, freebies aren't generally available. But there are affordable answers, particularly with preventive maintenance software. There are several solutions on the market that can help departments automate their inspection processes; converting pen-and-paper checks into ones that can be logged using smartphones and tablets.
While such programs may be more expensive than the cost of paper alone, they save huge amounts of time and labor by making departments more efficient. Far less time is spent chasing down check sheets, filling out maintenance requests, and copying and storing logs.
Digital logbook technology fits FEMA guidelines
FEMA's report recommendations for a preventive maintenance check system fall squarely into the wheelhouse of a robust cloud-based software solution that enables everyone to access and update the system — giving the next user ability to retrieve complete and current information. Among these recommendations are:
Addressing highest and best uses
FEMA's report summarizes top reasons to create a robust and responsive record-keeping platform, such as that created with a well-designed digital system.
The report emphasizes, "Apparatus maintenance and inspection records serve many functions. In a warranty claim, these records may be needed to document that the necessary maintenance was performed. In the event of a crash, maintenance records are likely to be scrutinized by the accident investigators.
"Proper documentation of recurrent repairs can also assist in deciding whether to purchase new apparatus in lieu of continued repairs on an older unit. Lastly, proper recordkeeping is required by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) in order to receive the available credits when a jurisdiction is being evaluated for its fire insurance rating."
It's time for fire departments to break out of their fire bubbles and embrace 21st-century technology that handles preventive maintenance checks fully and flawlessly.
This article was written for & published by MultiBriefs.com.