Maintenance: A Confession From a Convert

Maintenance: A Confession From a Convert



I have a confession to make. When I was a fire fighter I didn’t give a damn about maintenance. It was dirty work, without any of the appeal of fire suppression. Let the next guy, the next shift, worry about it, I thought in those earlier days.

But there aren’t any fire chiefs or other officers with such poor awareness of the importance of maintenance, right?

It is easier for me to make that confession here because I am reformed, especially after reading the articles in Fire Engineering this month. Anyway, that kind of shortsighted, negative attitude could get a person kicked off the fire department now.

Birmingham, Ala., is a city with a get-tough policy on maintenance. It has set up a maintenance review board to investigate equipment failures. Whenever the failure is traced to improper maintenance, someone is going to pay for it. The board can also recommend demotion or dismissal of the responsible (or should I say irresponsible?) person. One of the first investigations resulted in the mayor paying for some maintenance-related damage to a city car.

Maintenance is too important to ignore, the board is saying. It’s a good message to every fire department. More details on the board are in this month’s Round Table. And more tips on maintenance are throughout the entire issue. The subject has never been covered in a special issue before, but maintenance is so important to a fire department’s mission, that it deserves extra exposure. Maintenance is a time bomb in some departments.

When the bomb goes off on the fireground, the consequences are always serious.

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