On Wednesday the 17th, Gordon Schoonmaker, Fleet Operations Supervisor and Certified Emergency Vehicle Technician with the Spokane Valley Fire Department and one of his assistants will begin the evaluation of all fire department vehicles against the out of service criteria of the Spokane Valley Fire Department Safety and Operations Manual which follows NFPA and other regulatory requirements. This may take about 2 weeks to evaluate all of the trucks considering at least 3-5 hours per truck. Their shop rate is $85/hour so we are looking at a cost of at least $8,000 which does not include repairs or parts. Northern Lakes uses this shop for all of their apparatus maintenance and are very pleased with their service and attention to detail.
After Jeff Laird and I spoke with Gordon today and reviewed the attached Out of Service Apparatus and Equipment Criteria, there are items that we could apply to nearly every piece of fire apparatus we have that would technically place them out of service. We are not experienced certified Emergency Vehicle Technicians to know for sure, but we are mechanically inclined enough to know that we feel the items appear to meet the criteria. Not knowing if these trucks are safe to operate keeps many of us up at night. Some members and their families are concerned with the safety of the apparatus and whether they want to drive or ride in them.
The two in-service ambulances (EMS 61 and EMS 63) are owned and properly maintained by Kootenai County on a regular service and preventive maintenance schedule. Currently, there are no issues with those ambulances that would place them out of service according to the criteria. The fire boat is not in great shape and has its deficiencies, but Kevin Elmore has done an excellent job in keeping it maintained and safe for use at this time, Kevin maintains and repairs most of the boats in Bayview and I personally trust his work to be to standard. The fire boat remains in service under the winter use rules (only used for emergencies since we have to winterize it after each use).
If we take the conservative safety approach to do what’s best for our own responders and not risk their lives if we can help it, then we take the vehicles out of service until we know. However, then we are left with no fire apparatus. If we don’t take them out of service and something happens, then what?
Do we take every vehicle out of service immediately and until Gordon evaluates them to tell us for sure? That’s the question that several of the officers have been discussing.
The final resolution: all fire apparatus are out of service except for V2 (1986 International Engine), which only has one apparent out of service issue that we know of – the headlight high beam foot switch (when you turn the high beams on, everything goes dark, which startled me the other night test driving it on a dark road). It’s particularly concerning because this truck is a manual transmission and you are driving with two feet anyway. We just got a new switch installed this morning and that specific problem is solved.
We have already spoken with several fire departments and have calls into others to see if they have a reserve engine that has passed an NFPA inspection in the past year that we could barrow for 2 to 4 weeks. We are also speaking with fire apparatus dealers and manufacturers about short term options. If we get a loaner engine, we will take V2 out of service until Gordon evaluates it.
Be safe, drive slow, look out for each other.
Jack Krill, Fire Chief
Timberlake Fire Protection District
5985 E. Highway 54, PO Box 810, Athol, ID 83801
208-683-3333, Fax 208-683-6002, Cell 208-818-1101
Just to clarify so the subject line and content of the original email is not misinterpreted.
V2 is in service as Engine 621
Fire Boat 695 is in service
EMS 61 and EMS 63 are in service
Everything else is out of service. (17 units out) I will be switching to my personal vehicle as well.
Thanks, Jack Krill
Parting Shot -- 6.19.13
5 hours ago