It’s important to take every step possible to keep your fire apparatus up and running. Any time out of commission means danger to those who are in a fire. Scheduling preventive maintenance is vital to protecting your fleet from any maintenance disasters that may occur.
What is preventive maintenance?
The National Fire Protection Association’s set of standards for inspection and maintenance of fire apparatus, the NPFA 1911, defines preventive maintenance as, “systematic inspection, detection, correction, and prevention of incipient failures, before they become actual or major failures.” Simply put, preventive maintenance is regular maintenance to ensure that your apparatus continues to run, preventing it from suffering a major problem down the line that would cause it to break down.
This process of inspection and maintenance includes examining many of the integral parts of the fire apparatus. This can include checking the:
- Electrical system (onboard air compressor, charging system, sirens)
- Pump (relief valve, priming system, gauges)
- Foam tank (foam system)
- Chassis (gaskets and seals, clutch linkage, shock absorbers)
- Engine (oil levels, coolant, belts)
- Cab (headlights, seats and seatbelts, DOT lights)
Undergoing preventive maintenance before the summer can be especially important. Performing regular maintenance on the air conditioning unit can be the difference between overheating during the summer and keeping cool.
Why is having a preventive maintenance plan important?
You may tell yourself that you don’t need a preventive maintenance plan because you usually catch problems with your apparatus when they come up. However, that’s exactly why you need a preventive maintenance plan. Correcting problems as they come up can end up being more expensive on the long run, and often the problem at hand could have been stopped with preventive maintenance.
The frequency of how often you receive preventive maintenance can vary depending on how frequently your fire apparatus are in use and the size of your fleet. For volunteer fire departments, full-scale preventive maintenance should occur every two years due to fewer road miles and operating hours. For any other fire department, the NFPA 1911 says that a fire apparatus should undergo preventive maintenance either as frequently as the manufacturer recommends or once a year, whichever comes first.
Fire apparatus can be complicated machines, so performing regular maintenance is integral to keeping your fleet safe and able to go out for calls at any time. No matter the size of your fleet, make sure that you have a preventive maintenance plan to maximize the lifespan of your apparatus and save money on expensive maintenance down the line.
Is it time for your fire apparatus to undergo performative maintenance? Does your fire apparatus need to be repaired?