Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders

chief concerns | richard marinucci

Apparatus Components

Richard Marinucci

Technology and electronics are essential when integrating components into apparatus.

There are very few “mechanical-only” parts, as everything has a technical (i.e., electronic) component. This has made operation easier and training time quicker. There is still a need to have an understanding of how the various components interrelate and operate. While reliability is very good, there are occasions where the operator needs to have a plan B. That requires good knowledge of the inner workings.

This is easier said than done. To make the various components easier to use (and more reliable, I might add), the complexity has increased. The engineering required to make various parts function as intended requires someone with an engineering degree to really understand the inner workings. One might argue that a firefighter, engine operator, or officer does not need to know how something works, only that it will work. As long as everything goes according to plan, this is fine. But, there needs to be a backup strategy so that the emergency can be handled expeditiously and the recipient of the service does not suffer any additional effects.

Know the Equipment

Knowledge of the equipment is the most essential aspect of being prepared for the unexpected. I realize that today’s fire service professionals have a lot on their plates. Between all the added responsibilities and increasing run volume, time for preparation is becoming more and more rare. But, those asked to perform specific duties as part of their core job must become extremely competent at their work. This means that there must be a prioritization of responsibilities and a commitment by both the organization and the individual to be focused on the basic elements of the job.

All of this is not only for the engine operator. There are basic skills and knowledge that everyone on the department should know—from firefighter to officer. Of course, the depth of knowledge will be different. It also may require specialization by individuals with very focused information regarding particular components of the apparatus. Often individuals have a special interest in smaller parts but not the entire vehicle. They may look at the foam system, for example, as something they want to learn more about. They could be a valuable resource if things go “south” during an emergency event. Do not discount the advantages of using everyone’s strengths and the power of involvement.

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