Fire Truck Repairs - Do you go to a gynecologist for a vasectomy?

CarolinaFireJournal - Willie Wimmer
Willie Wimmer
04/23/2012 -

After reading that headline some of you are thinking what the H-E-double hockey sticks is he saying? Well now is my time to vent. If you don’t want to read don’t. If you do, here I go.


I am tired of people taking apparatus to their local garage for fire truck repairs. I am not talking about an oil change. I am talking about fire truck repairs. These trucks and apparatus are such complex pieces of machinery that even the braking system is different from road trucks. But time and time again I am having to go in and repair items that are costing twice as much as it would have the first time due to the advice from the local cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth while finishing his PBR saying, “I can fix that.”

OK this is all fine and dandy but these locations should start realizing their limitations. I know in this economy no one wants to turn any work down but you shouldn’t even be asking them.

Here we go again, “well my budget does not allow for a trained technician.” Well, tell your board or your county or city representative to see if they can put a couple million dollars in the budget to pay someone’s widowed family because your local garage did not have a freaking clue as to what they were working on.

Actually, it doesn’t cost any more to have a trained technician to work on the apparatus. Their knowledge and experience lets them troubleshoot and diagnose quicker than someone with no experience.

Another soap box for me is, “Well he finished his state certification classes.” While in those classes did they tear down a pump and a valve or an electrical system and rebuild it? Does this technician have to recertify on it every couple years? Probably not. Most of the classes say driver operator, not technician repairman level 1, 2, 3. I am saying technician because there is a reason a technician is a professional. This requires that this person is trained in his field and keeps certifications on what he is working on.

A mechanic works under his tree in the backyard. I am not trying to be disrespectful, and as a fellow firefighter I know about budgets and money that is tight. I also know that I care whether or not my crew comes home safe and sound and as long as I have a breath in my body I will always feel strongly about this. There are a lot of highly trained intelligent individuals that work on fire apparatus day in and day out.

My next bitch session is on town garages. OK, let’s do this one. And, I am pretty sure everyone has the same opinion on this one. Someone refresh my memory. I have never seen a garbage truck rushing down the street to save someone’s life, but that’s how they make it seem. I was speaking with a garage manager one time and I asked him why fire truck repair was not a priority. His exact words were, “more people call and complain when their trash is not picked up than when a house burns down.” Really?

But from my rounds at places I get the feeling that it is this way everywhere. The other one is the budget buys sanitation a new million dollar trash truck every three years but we only get a $500,000 engine every 20 years. That makes a lot of sense too, doesn’t it?

Now back to the main topic and my closing — I am sure some of you are thinking, “finally, does this guy ever shut up?” The answer is usually not unless I am eating. We respond in our rigs day and night and going through our heads is the thought of saving someone’s life or protecting someone’s property. The last thing we need to be focusing on is wondering if the bailing twine that “Joe” used will stay on.

I know money is tight, I do. And if you would like to have your administrator or budget personnel contact me, we can have a long drawn out conversation. After we are done talking I will invite him to ride on the rig and I am sure 90 percent of them will say no because they have no clue what goes on. All they worry about is the dollar, not our life safety. Do you get my point? I care about everyone making it home at night and this is one of the issues that possibly can make that not happen.

Does anyone remember the engine that rolled down the hill into the store and killed the captain in the rig? What caused the accident? Improper brake adjustment performed by a untrained service center.If you don’t believe me look it up yourself.

When there is an accident, the first part of the investigation is probably going to go straight to your maintenance records and X garage that has no record of what was done or does not carry insurance to even work on apparatus. You, along with the person that made the decision to save a couple dollars, will have nothing to stand on.

Lesson to learn? You don’t go to a gynecologist for a vasectomy.

Comments & Ratings

  8/14/2012 3:31:51 PM


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