Economics should not dictate safety of your equipment
By Willie Wimmer
Well we may want to start calling this section my bitch session or soap box because this is where I vent about all the stupid CRAP that I run across on a weekly basis. I touched on this in my last article but I feel I need to elaborate a little.
I was performing annual services on some apparatus a little while ago and came across a few items that I have never seen before and just wanted to share them with you. If you read this and it was you, please contact me so I can tell you exactly what you need to do with your life and not live in some fantasy world where you think you know how to work on trucks.
I was asked to look at the primer when I was on location. There was no problem with the primer. Simple, right? There was nothing said about what was happening under the truck. To this person I say wire ties do not count as a way to secure the solenoid to the primer. Reason one why this is not a good idea is most manufacturers run a line directly from the battery to the primer. When it is not attached correctly and bounces around on all these fine paved roads that we have, it has a chance to become an ARC welder underneath the truck. I think that is enough said.
I was told that the rear lights were not working. I turned the switch on they worked fine, but as I dug a little deeper, I found that when I stepped on the brakes the lights went off. After a little investigation I found that someone had tied into the wrong wire when the light was replaced and when brakes were applied it was over loading the circuit.
This was the best one I have seen yet and if one of y’all can top it please let me know. I was called in to look at a pump that was not building any pressure when flowing off the tank. I get there and put the pump in gear, start operating. The pump is engaging fine and the throttle was increasing but not building any pressure on my gauge. So I said for “shits and giggles,” let’s just open a discharge and see if we are moving any water. Sure enough, water came shooting out. Well then I started asking a few more questions to the equipment officer. He told me that Brand X company had installed new gauges due to a failed pump test. I said, “Oh really?” I pulled the pump panel and started checking lines. I found that the lines I was tracing weren’t going to where they were supposed to. I found this to be true on about six lines. Yes, they were all going to places they were not supposed to — the pressure gauge was going to the intake side of the pump, the intakes side of the pump was going to discharge three and then discharge three was going to the master pressure gauge and so on and so on.
It took about 30 minutes for me to get the lines back in the correct place. That was when this fine outstanding individual showed up at the station and told me that he had put them back exactly the way they came off. Without batting an eye, I replied, “Well, I guess the fire truck fairy came in overnight and decided you were wrong.”
I hate beating a dead horse, but seriously, when are people going to realize that this is a specialized field that not everyone is qualified to do. I hope and I pray that it does not take one of my fellow brothers or sisters to get hurt to make people open their eyes. It seems with the budget cuts that departments are going through it has been getting worse. Safety of your apparatus is where money should not be cut and if you are a chief reading this I am not trying to offend you. I know your job is tough to manage with all you have to deal with on a daily basis — but enough is enough.
Willie Wimmer (owner/head mechanic) started working for KME in 1996 while in school and continued to work there until 2007 when he relocated to the Outer Banks. He started with KME building trucks, moved into repairs and finished by traveling across country repairing trucks, selling and training on the apparatus. He has been an active volunteer firefighter since 1996.
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