National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Keep Your Head and Hands Clear of the Door

There are many pieces of equipment we take for granted. The motor used to assist the overhead garage door is one of those pieces of equipment. The garage door goes up and down through thousands of cycles and we give little thought to things like the weight, mechanics or maintenance that go into keeping the door operable. As this week’s report describes, a 600-pound object lifting an unidentified number of feet off the ground will leave a mark when it falls.

“The captain of the fire station activated the automatic bay door opener for routine use (not emergency). He was positioned at the door controls approximately one foot from the door opening. The bay door is constructed of aluminum with three full rows of glass panes and three full rows of aluminum panes. The approximated weight of the door is 600 pounds…When the door reached the fully opened position, the assisting coil spring broke, causing the door to free fall from the fully opened position to the fully closed position. The captain only had time to cover his face to protect it from possible glass breakage…”

Many overhead door systems are rated for 60,000 cycles. While that may sound like an exorbitant amount of ups and downs, take a casual count of how many times the door goes up and down on an average day. Since we are dealing with heavy weights, mechanical parts, coiled springs, rollers and any assortment of glass and metal, a safe overhead door operating policy (which includes a comprehensive maintenance and inspection program) should be a part of your department’s safety program. Once you have read the complete account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

1. When was the last maintenance of your station’s overhead door(s) conducted by certified technicians?
2. Does your department participate in a scheduled maintenance program for the motor driven overhead doors in the department?
3. Are all personnel on your shift familiar with basic safety rules (e.g., stay out of the doorway when the door is moving or do not park apparatus in the opening, etc.) for working around overhead doors?
4. What is the procedure for rising and lowering the engine room overhead doors in your station should power fail or other mechanical failure occur?
5. Where is the main disconnect located for the overhead doors in your station?

Have you experienced a near miss with an overhead door? Make somebody else’s day go better by sharing the story. Tell your story on today so everyone goes home tomorrow.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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