Performing daily engine checks have the potential to become mundane which leads to just going through the motions. This does not have to be the case. One way to prevent this is to develop mini-drills around the equipment that needs checked. These drills can be done by the operator or with the full engine crew. Not only will the equipment on the engine get checked, but it will increase the proficiency of the crew. Here are some examples:
Hitting a hydrant is a good way to check the engine and improve skills. The operator pulls the engine to the hydrant a distance that can be reached without getting hose from the hose bed. The pump is placed in gear, generator engaged, wheels chocked, and water circulated by opening the tank-to-pump and pump-to-tank valve. To this point the drill checks the operation of the pump transfer mechanism, motor, fuel level, water level in the tank, generator, and valves for recirculation have been checked. Throttle the engine up to produce pressure between 50 and 100 psig. Once at the desired pressure set the pressure relief valve or pressure governor. The operator then takes a section of supply hose and the hydrant bag to the hydrant. Once the hydrant is flushed, the supply hose is connected to the steamer connection and a gate valve is connected to the 2 ½” discharge and the hydrant opened. Returning to the engine the supply line is bled and the intake valve opened. The pressure relief valve or governor should control the discharge pressure once the inlet pressure increases. This step checks the hydrant bag equipment, the function of the intake valve, and the discharge pressure control device while honing the operator’s skills for making the hydrant connection.
Taking a vent fan to the entry point is often a task of the operator. The operator takes the fan from the engine and take it to a man door going into the bays. At this point the operator checks the fan for fuel and oil before positioning it to ventilate through the door. With the door chocked open, the fan is started and the cone of air entering the door is checked. Do not run the fan very long so to prevent the introduction of high levels of CO into the bays. This drill checks the fan while allowing the operator to learn how the cone of air develops at different distances from the door.
Even though in some areas laddering and ventilation is a function of a truck company, it is important the saws and ladders carried on the engine be checked along with the other equipment. Simulating laddering a building, most likely the station, gets the entire crew involved. Depending on the number of members in the crew, two fire fighters can take the extension ladder to the building while the officer takes the roof ladder. If the crew is not big enough for three members to carry ladders, two trips will be needed or single person carries used. The extension ladder is extended past the roof of the selected build by three to five rungs. This checks the condition and operation of the ladder, halyard, and dogs. The roof ladder does not need to be deployed to the roof but hooks of the roof ladder need rotated out to make sure they work properly. While the crew is deploying ladders, the operator will get the appropriate saw off the engine, check the chain for tension and damage, check the fuel and bar oil on a chainsaw. The saw is started and allowed to warm up; depending on the make of the saw this could take between 60 and 90 seconds. Once the motor is warm the bar oiler should be checked. After this the saw is shut down and taken to the location that has been laddered for ventilation. When the drill is completed all tools and ladders are returned to the proper spot on the engine.
These quick drills serve two purposes: maintaining and honing operator and crew skill and checking some of the equipment on the engine. Not every piece of equipment on the engine can be checked using a mini drill but many can. This article covered a few items and skills that can be checked but more can be developed by the crews based on the equipment carried on the engine and the duties tasked to the crew on scene.