Developing YOUR maintenance program

CarolinaFireJournal - By Willie Wimmer
By Willie Wimmer
01/23/2014 -

Developing a maintenance program for your department is one of the most important tasks that need to be performed, as well as adjusted to your department’s ever changing response needs. First let’s look at the two basic types of maintenance — proactive and reactive. Proactive is when you take the initiative to repair things before they break or in routine maintenance schedules. Reactive is where you fix the items only as they break and nothing more. The reactive route is very hard to budget due to the unknowns. When a proactive maintenance program is developed you will see within a year a couple of the benefits — some far more out way others.


“When starting to develop your maintenance program you need to sit down with good old NFPA 1911. This will get you started in the right direction, but it takes a lot more than 1911.”

When starting to develop your maintenance program you need to sit down with good old NFPA 1911. This will get you started in the right direction, but it takes a lot more than 1911. NFPA 1911 is the standard for the maintenance and repair for in service apparatus and basically outlines suggested means of maintenance.

The next step is to set down with a good EVT, not a back yard tobacco chewing PBR drinking shade tree mechanic, but someone who works on this equipment and knows the truck bumper to bumper. A maintenance program is not just about oil changes and this is where a lot of people go wrong. A maintenance program is to consist of inspection and maintenance of the entire apparatus. This includes the pump, lighting, brakes, generator, hose or chord reels, air pack brackets, steering wheel, information centers — every operational aspect of that truck has some type of maintenance or inspection that needs to be performed.

This comes back to what I said about talking with a good EVT. There are a lot of people out there that are not what they say they are and could not figure their way out of a wet paper bag with a set of irons. This goes back to one of the first articles that I ever wrote that spoke to doing some work and research as well.

The best part of a proactive maintenance program is that the trucks are not out of service due to failures all the time. This is a piece of equipment made by man so there will be times when something breaks, but with proactive maintenance and inspecting the issues are found well before it becomes a failure or a catastrophic failure. This also allows you the ability to budget better for vehicle repairs and saves you money because it will be a minor repair and not a catastrophic failure.

When developing a good maintenance program start with you, the department, and then follow up with the technician. Some additional in house training may need to be performed as well to get everyone on the same page. I know many companies will do the in house training as a thank you, but check because there are some that charge.

With a maintenance plan that is developed and FOLLOWED you will have a little legwork if you are in charge of the department’s apparatus. Maintenance records will need to be kept for each truck with your daily, weekly and monthly check off documented. This documentation covers you and your department and is also a critique to check if the program is being followed or needs to be adjusted. The most important thing with these documents is not allowing them to be pencil whipped, but making sure that they actually are performed. I have been doing this for quite a while now and if you tell me no one in your department pencil whips things, I will kiss you’re a$$ in the middle of the super bowl. We all have them, the lazy one who got hired or is just there in the department not caring about anything but his paycheck and his next lunch break. This is the weakest link of a maintenance program and needs to be voted off the island. Do your job with professionalism at all times and this includes correctly checking equipment and properly maintaining it.

We will continue apparatus maintenance in the next article with more in-depth information.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and New Year. Stay safe.

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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