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by Bill Tricarico, Sr. Risk Management Consultant, ESIP

Untitled-5 copyI was visiting an emergency services organization recently and as I walked through the building with the Chief, we crossed paths with someone who when I said hello responded, “Don’t worry, I’m nobody important, just the mechanic.” The gentleman was selling himself short. Proper vehicle maintenance is a key ingredient to emergency protection for any fire suppression or EMS provider. The people responsible for performing that work are an important part of the emergency response system.

So many people are dependent on safe emergency vehicles including the people requiring the services, the general public which shares the road and of course the first responders who use the equipment.

A study conducted by ESIP indicated that organizations which maintained their vehicles to manufacturer’s recommendations experienced 60% fewer vehicle accidents which occurred in organizations who simply fixed things when they broke.

Those organizations which provided unscheduled maintenance and regular preventive maintenance not meeting manufacturer’s recommendations did fairly well but not to the extent of following recommendations.

The NFPA Standard, 1911, “Standard for Fire Apparatus Maintenance Program” is an excellent source of information to help set up an optimum program. Not only is the information excellent, but the committee also provides sample forms and for-mats which can be used for ambulances as well as fire apparatus.

A sound means to accomplish good vehicle maintenance is to:

  • Develop and implement a viable service schedule. Have all repairs should be completed by qualified individuals.
  • Provide regular, recorded inspections
  • Have a policy developed to remove unsafe vehicles and equipment from ser-vice.
  • Maintain maintenance and repair records for the life of the vehicle.

Vehicle maintenance is as important as anything else you do to provide emergency services. Don’t make it an afterthought.