Equipment Operator Fire Safety
Fire Attack Procedures

PART 2 Section 4  General Equipment Issues


Sections 1 - 8

  1. Heavy Equipment Varieties
  2. Legal Stuff - the law and you
  3. Operating Costs
  4. Risk Management & General Inspections
  5. Specific Equipment Uses
  6. Equipment and the I.C.S. (Incident Command System)
  7. Building the Fireline / Guard or Fuel Break
  8. Safety Concerns

Risk Management & General Inspection

Prior to a Contract or some type of Hire Agreement being issued - the piece of equipment being considered must have an inspection.  This is not an in-depth shop type of inspection, but more of a visual one.  We have mentioned the high costs of operating (and renting) equipment already.  The agency paying for the use of this equipment needs to ensure they are getting their (and often the public taxpayer) money's worth.  

This is a partial list of items to look for:

  • overall cleanliness (may be an indication of other more "hidden" factors)
  • what condition is the seat belt in? A dirty belt is a strong indication the operator does not wear it.  That can lead to liabilities.
  • are there cigarette butts all over the floor of the "cab"? 
  • do all the hydraulic hoses look good? - any leakage?
  • is there a good spark arrestor installed on the exhaust?
  • if rubber wheels - are they in good condition?
  • if it is a tracked vehicle - are the tracks level and tight or loose and sagging?  (possible idler problems)
  • is a current fire extinguisher present?
  • are there basic fire tools on board? (shovel, pulaski) Some jurisdictions and agencies require this - find out what is required for your machine in the jurisdiction you are operating in.

IF some or all of this looks to be marginal there may be a possibility that machine will break down and really mess up the Incident Commander's and Command Team's planning.

A piece of "broken" equipment on the fireline suddenly turns from a good asset to a major liability.  

Equipment in poor condition may also be an indicator of the quality of work you may expect to see.

Avoidance of Problems

It is suggested that Contracts / Equipment Hire Agreements be thought about and drawn up PRIOR to the expected emergency season.

This is called Pre-Organization or Pre-Org.  Many agencies do this and have binders full of equipment neatly tabbed by Make, Model, Serial Numbers, General Condition, Type, Location, Company / Owner, Agreed upon Rental Rates, etc. etc.  Of course all this data may be computerized - however a back-up, hardcopy (binder) is very useful also.  

The time to complete a basic equipment contract could be upwards of an hour or more.  This is valuable time at the time of the emergency / incident.  ... and so, in reality, an agreement is often not completed until some time later.  

... and this is not smart planning!



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