Poor maintenance can lead to failure of a fire fighting vehicle when needed the most during a fire outbreak, and the consequences would too ghastly to contemplate. African Mining Brief (AMB) learns from Trevor Fiford, Managing Director at Industrial Fire & Hazard Control, about the fundamental elements in the servicing of fire fighting vehicles that can forestall catastrophic failure.
AMB: What are common errors (oversights) in fire rescue vehicle and servicing maintenance?
TF: Firstly, most clients purchase these high ticket items in order to ensure compliance to a standard or Act. There seems to be a perception that, after the purchase has been made, no further costs need to be incurred. So, in many instances, a service and maintenance budget is not created for the life span of the vehicle.
The lack of this budget relegates the unit to an “as and when” scenario, which means that there is no preventative maintenance undertaken and monies is only spent on repairs. Couple this to the lack of the all-important daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/half yearly and annual checks and the recipe is set for heavy repair expenditure or, depending on the nature of the failures, even a replacement/refurbishment.
AMB: What should be on the checklist of services and maintenance programmers of Fire Rescue Vehicles?
TF: The daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/half yearly and annual checks are critically important to act as early warning checks of potential pending failures or problems. If undertaken correctly, these checks ensure trouble free operation of the complete vehicle. Couple this to a dedicated service and maintenance program for each vehicle, a program that is strictly adhered to and undertaken in accordance with the time (period/hours) dictated by the program.
The service and maintenance programs includes the diagnostics on the engine and transmission that provides a record of data that is kept as critical information on faults, early warning and safety issues. Also, there are many service reminders that are linked to tracking systems on the vehicles to ensure that the vehicles are serviced on time.
AMB: “In-sourced” or “outsourced maintenance”: which of these two would you recommend as the best option for asset owners in the present atmosphere?
TF: The component make up of a fire fighting vehicle lends itself to be serviced by a qualified and reputable company that has the required Emergency Vehicle Technicians under their employ. Not only are these companies in a position to undertake/oversee the servicing and maintaining of the drive line but they are also capable of servicing the heart of the fire fighting vehicle, the pump and all related components such as the foam system, the hose reels, nozzles, deck guns, etc. Further to this, the company can undertake the required tests to report on the functionality of the vehicle compared to the manufacturer’s specification. These are important factors to ensure the operational life span of the vehicle as well as ensuring that the vehicle is providing the performance levels that were critical at the time of purchase.
AMB: What tools enable you to carry out service and maintenance?
TF: The most important tool for servicing and maintaining fire fighting and rescue vehicles is the quality and qualification of the technician working on the vehicle. There are many companies claiming their ability to service and maintain these vehicles but only a handful are capable of living up to this claim. The other important factor is that, with the advent of the new electronic engines and gearboxes, diagnostic software and the required handheld computers are imperative for any Emergency Vehicle Technician. Outside of that, there is an array of tools and equipment that is required in order to correctly service and maintain fire fighting and rescue vehicles and this includes the requisite testing and certifying equipment and tools.