When a fire breaks out, every second counts. Your fire apparatus must be ready to respond on a moment’s notice. Your department and your neighbors depend on it.
That makes proper fire truck maintenance and repair all the more important. So why trust such a crucial job to just anyone?
Many departments make the mistake of thinking that anyone trained as a firefighter, or anyone trained to work on regular cars or trucks, is automatically qualified to service fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. While that type of thinking may save a few short-term dollars up front, over the long haul it can be a costly and dangerous decision.
Let’s take a look at why your fire apparatus require a high degree of specialized knowledge to perform the kind of high quality maintenance you need.
Why Emergency Vehicle Technician Certification Matters
The Emergency Vehicle Technician Certification Commission is a nonprofit organization dedicated to quality fire truck maintenance throughout the United States and Canada.
The Commission’s primary role is EVT testing and certification. It also encourages the development of emergency vehicle technician training programs.
Some fire departments will hire certified EVTs as part of their full-time staff, while others will turn to outside service providers who are certified.
Either way, there are several important reasons to make sure the person who performs maintenance on your apparatus has EVT certification.
- Fire apparatus are complex machines. Most people go to a local auto mechanic for routine service and repair on their personal cars, trucks or SUVs. It’s generally more cost effective and gives you better results to go to a trained professional instead of trying to change your own oil or patch up a dent yourself. Likewise, a certified EVT usually has specialized knowledge that most firefighters don’t when it comes to diagnosing and correcting problems to keep your fire trucks in good working condition.
- Fire apparatus technology changes. Certified EVTs are required to get recertified every five years. As emergency vehicles grow continually smarter and greener, the knowledge required to service them properly continually changes. Make sure the person who services your apparatus has his or her certification up-to-date.
- Cost. The temptation to let “just anybody” work on your apparatus is usually driven by a desire to squeeze a few extra dollars out of your budget in an era of stingy fiscal constraints. But paying a certified EVT will usually end up saving you much more money over the long run. A trained technician is more likely to spot problems that others might miss, so they get identified and corrected early. And, of course, the certified technician is more likely to do the job right the first time, so you won’t have to spend extra money fixing the damage done by shoddy maintenance.
- Liability. If your fire apparatus is involved in a traffic accident, or doesn’t function properly at the scene of an emergency, your department could be subject to lawsuits if the plaintiffs can demonstrate that you neglected to keep the vehicle in good condition. That neglect could include allowing unqualified individuals to perform fire truck maintenance and repairs. So in addition to saving lives and money, hiring a certified EVT can also keep you out of legal trouble.
How Does EVT Certification Work?
Because of the value they provide in terms of public safety, cost savings and liability protection, certified EVTs typically enjoy better pay, more job opportunities and greater prestige than technicians who aren’t certified.
The fire chief who invests in hiring only certified EVTs instills confidence in governing authorities and constituents that there is someone they can depend on to keep the department’s emergency vehicles in proper working condition.
The good news is that anyone willing to go through educational materials provided by the EVT Certification Commission can take an exam to earn certification.
The applicant has two options:
- Option 1: Technicians may earn limited certification for narrow, individual test areas.
- Option 2: Technicians may also earn the highest level of certification by passing a combination of EVT exams and either the ASE Exam (National Institute for Automotive Excellence) in the United States or the Canadian Provincial License Exam for Canadian technicians. Individuals pursuing Option 2 may test for Level I, Level II, or Master EVT certification in one of five specialty tracks:
- Fire Apparatus Technician
- Ambulance Technician
- ARFF Vehicle Technician
- Law Enforcement Vehicle Technician
- Management Track
More information about the different certification categories, as well as upcoming testing dates and an EVT test study guide, can be found by checking out the Commission’s exam brochure.
Are you looking for the right fire truck mechanic to service your apparatus? Whether you hire someone in-house or pay an outside service provider, make sure the job is done right by hiring only a certified emergency vehicle technician.
If you have questions about proper fire truck maintenance and repair, please contact us at Jon’s Mid America. We can provide the information you need to make sure your apparatus are ready for a rapid response to any location in your community.