The fire alarm goes off, the firefighters respond and run into a building engulfed in flames — and all involved trust the fire truck’s hoses and other equipment will work when needed most.
Fire departments ensure equipment such as hoses, nozzles, suction units and hand lines are in good working order every time they respond to an alarm by testing their equipment yearly.
On Tuesday, Lt. Cathy Mealy and other Bradford City Fire Department personnel, as well as firefighters with the Derrick City Volunteer Fire Department and the American Refining Group, had their fire truck equipment tested by a crew with the Waterway company of Pittsburgh.
“Some of the hoses have passed, and some have failed,” Mealy said of the tests run on her department’s equipment. “We’d rather have them fail when these guys are testing them, than when we’re at a fire.
“If I have a supply line fail and my guys are inside without water …” the situation could be dire, she implied. “The whole idea behind the water supply is that it’s one of the most important things that we do” in addition to training.
Mealy noted the testing is “worth the investment because (Waterway) does a really good job.
“We can do (the testing) but it’s not the same thing,” she added. “This is what these guys do, this is their full-time gig … this is insurance that your stuff is ready to go.”
Mealy said the company also tests other equipment, such as ladders.
Lt. Brian Distasio of the Derrick City department, said his company has their equipment tested by professionals because “it’s easier to replace” equipment now than at a fire which can cost a life.
Ray Hall, crew chief with Waterway, said his company travels throughout southwest and northwest Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia testing fire department equipment. He said the testing is done year-round except during the coldest part of winter.
Hall agreed the company provides a good service to community fire departments, noting “we’ve got to give back what we get.
“Who gives us better service than the EMS and fire departments,” Hall remarked.