We are a volunteer department with no paid maintenance position.  We had a maintenance officer be he resigned the other day.  The department set up a truck check program a while back to make sure the rigs are ready to go.  The second part to the truck check is for firefighters to not only to ensure proper operation of the trucks but to inventory the equipment and make sure the tools work.  The program was designed to keep the trucks ready and keep firefighters up to speed on the equipment.  We have ten apparatus in the station so it can get overwhelming sometimes.  My question is how have other departments dealt with the problem of keeping trucks ready to go and firefighters up to speed on equipment?  Our current system of having a pair of firefighters using an inventory sheet check one truck for a three month rotation is just barely working.  A lot of the time the members wont do the check and the same five or six guys end up doing it anyway.  We are thinking about starting a discipline system to make sure the work is done.  How do the rest of you keep your stuff rolling and what works best for you? 


Jim Conrad 

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 Hi Jim

Since the department has a program already set up that must have been working sufficiently, it now appears that it's just come down to laziness on the part of the members and the officers. It is the officers job (or should be) to be delegating these tasks and jobs to the members. If the officers are more concerned about being friends and buddies, instead of leaders.. they should be replaced. That being said, I look at your profile, and see only 1 year in service. As a rookie.. it never hurts to dig in and do the work...which I am sure you are already doing. The veteran members might feel that they have deserved the right to be slackers. Rightly or wrongly.. the trucks and the equipment still need to be checked and at the very least made ready for the next response. My suggestion is to point the finger towards the officers, and THEN the chief. He is the one that will have to answer the lawyers if and when someone gets hurt because of negligence.  Good luck.


Hey man.  I have almost a year and a HALF!  Rookie?  Sheesh....

Thanks for the reply Brian.  The current program is one of about a half a dozen that have been tried.  The problem seems to be lack of dedication and I am sure there is no magic bullet.  The Chief told us that it is HIS a@@ if something goes wrong, but that did not seem to change anything. 

We're in the same situation. The same four guys check everything every day. Many others are probably forgetting where everything is. The only thing that seems to help is once a month we require EVERYONE to check at least one entire apparatus following a training meeting. The checks are documented. It's easy to see who doesn't participate if they disappear too fast following training.

Norm, we require the members to check and document once a month as well.  When you say REQUIRE everyone what are the consequences of not pulling you weight?  We just passed a by law that grants the chief officers the ability to discipline but have not figured out what that discipline should be.(our station is WAY too democratic)  The same dozen guys make sure the trucks are done on time, but it is starting to breed resentment on the part of the dedicated members.  Should we just forget about it and be happy with the other members just showing up once in a while?

Being that I'm a career firefighter today, I can't speak for my current department because we have a crew on that checks all rigs daily.  However, I can weigh in from my volunteer experiences.  Where I came from, the same people would normally check the rigs.  Like Norm, though, once a month we called a "duty crew" for the purpose of station cleanup, rig checks, and training.  An hour before our scheduled start time (usually 1800 hours) we would have dispatch page this out, so there was no excuse for people not to show up.  Those that hung back and didn't do what they were supposed to were reprimanded on the spot. 


As for the other part of your last reply, you should never accept mediocrity in the firehouse,  ESPECIALLY when it comes to checking the rig.  How can you trust the people you work with on a scene, if you can't even trust them to check the equipment and ensure that it's properly operating? Discipline comes first with a written warning.  Then, send them home.  If it continues, suspend them.  Firefighters have a hard time not being allowed to the job, or at least that was always my experience.  I hope that you guys get it figured out, I really do.


if i can give my opinion, in my FD every truck as a check list. In the check list all equipment that the truck has is in that check list. We have 5 shifts/teams..we work 12 and rest 48, at 08.00 when the shift start each firefighter pick a check list and goes to see the truck, all the equipment. At 20.00 the other shift/team start to work, they do the same thing, pick a check list and see the equipment. 2x day.

We check , SCBA, chainsaw, rescue equipment, lights, pump, extrication equipment,...

Since the members are volunteers we walk a fine line between "reprimanding" and "peer pressure." I have to say a healthy dose of peer pressure goes a long way when someone is in the spotlight. We jokingly say to the chief, "Just dock my paycheck." Seriously, I do not want to be the one to feel his wrath. He has a way with words.

So we exert pressure gently...

When I started my last new job with my private ambulance company I was with my partner and him and I were checking everything out and found out we had no advanced airway  for the Pediatrics. drugs were out dated and the list goes on. It's sad people don't even want to SIT and go through stuff how much simpler can it get lol

Good post Jim. I was maintenance in my Vol. for 15 yrs. we are a small Dept. of about 20 and have probably 12-15 active, we put 2 persons per vehicle their job was to check oil, water, tire pressures, lights and all equipment on vehicle then take it out for a drive for about 15 mins. then come back look for leaks if any, we worked a 6 month rotation this way and it got everyone familiar with the vehicle and the equipment on it. 

our department once a month usually on a thursday night will do the truck checks, with usually 2-3 guys doing the checks.

At our department we have a dedicated maintenance training once a month wher every apparatus is checked from top to bottom and tools and power equipment is pulled off and ran for certain periods of time and checked (oil level, fuel, hydraulic fluid level). We assign 2-4 people to an apparatus to make sure it's thoroughly looked over. We use a checklist that is turned in to the chiefs desk after completion. Once a month might not seem much to some people, but these checks have done well for us. We also use these training a to maintenance and test our SCBAs. Some of us go over the trucks when we come to the station for whatever reason as well. Any problems are to be filled out on a maintenance request form. Our system works quite well.

In my city the Career FD (1 station, 30 vehicles) has its own garage to do repairs not just on their own trucks, but on all fire trucks in the city. In each shift 2 ff are assigned to the garage. All normal checks are done daily right after the shift starts, the VFDs check their trucks either on a weekly or monthly basis.

It works very well, and with 30 cars and truck at the own station plus the ones from the volunteer stations in the city it doesn't get boring in the garage; Apart from when there's an alarm those 2 ff are mor less the whole day in the garage

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