FIRE DEPARTMENT: TESTING AND EQUIPMENT STANDARDS

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FIRE DEPARTMENT: TESTING AND EQUIPMENT STANDARDS

 

Problem Identification:
Suppression equipment is not properly maintained or tested. Hose tests, ladder tests and pump tests are not performed. Facilities and manpower for maintenance are inadequate.

Recommended Action:
Maintain and test all apparatus and equipment in accordance with nationally recognized criteria. Provide adequate physical repair facilities and mechanics. Require the Department of Public Works to give higher priority attention and consideration to the Department’s emergency equipment.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
All Department operations

Estimated Annual Impact:
While the immediate financial impact cannot be estimated, improved maintenance should increase reliability and life expectancy of engines, trucks, and medic units thereby resulting in cost savings. Safety on the fire ground will also be enhanced.

Estimated Implementation Cost:
Not Determined

Barriers to Implementation:
Requiring the Department of Public Works or the department ultimately responsible for fleet management services to increase the priority of the repair and maintenance of the Fire Department’s emergency service vehicles.

Projected Implementation:
180 days

Next Step:
The Fire Department must re-establish as one of its priorities the proper inspection and testing of its fire fighting equipment. Increased priority consideration must be given to the Department’s emergency response equipment over all others.

Analysis:
The Department has discontinued the proper inspection and testing of fire pumps, fire hoses and ground ladders because of the problem of excessive staffing vacancies. Nationally recognized standards promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) dictate the annual inspection and testing of these resources. Concomitant with the Department’s discontinuance of proper inspection and testing of fire fighting equipment has been the Department of Public Works’ failure to dedicate an adequate staff of mechanics to keep the emergency vehicle fleet in satisfactory repair or to place a priority on such repairs.

While the existing fire apparatus repair shop on Key Highway is structurally intact, the building has not received adequate maintenance which compounds the difficulties of the mechanics in performing their duties. Unfinished excavation/removal of an interior under floor tank, failure to annually inspect installed overhead traveling cranes, lack of repair to the exterior head-wall, and even failure to replace inoperative overhead interior ceiling lights are examples of existing building maintenance problems.

The number of mechanic positions assigned to the Fire Department repair shop is apparently one supervisor and nine mechanics. One of several vacancies has existed since September 1997. Considering the quantity of apparatus in both first and second-line (reserve) status, the number of assigned mechanics appears inadequate. Reportedly, on some weekdays, only two or three mechanics are on duty. The result, in spite of the efforts of several dedicated mechanics and their supervisor, is a mechanically deteriorating fleet.