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Small Tool Maintenance

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We often refer to our apparatus as big tool boxes.  Besides the hose and ladders, we carry a lot of small tools.  We have tools to cut, pry, bend, and lift.  The engine oil and fuel get checked every day but our small tools are often overlooked.  Maybe we need to pay a little more attention to the small tools that we rely on.

Every rig has a tool box.  It’s not like your tool box at home because there are a lot of people that use it.  You might always put your screwdriver back were you got it but chances are someone else put it where they thought it should go. 

It can be pretty frustrating to open the tool box in an emergency and not be able to find what you are looking for.  Another frustration is when the roll of duct tape in the tool box is just about gone and no one decided to replace it. 

We have all done those things, but we have no one to blame other than ourselves because we didn’t check the tool box in the morning.  I remember getting mad at the shift the day before for not replacing things, only to find out I was the last one to use it.  Don’t blame anyone but yourself because you should have checked it yourself.

Aside from the tool box we have a lot of power tools. Some may run on gas, some may be electric, and some are going to be operated manually.  Each of these has unique maintenance issues.

Gas, or gas oil mix tools provide some challenges with old fuel or improper fuel / oil mixture.  We have all had the saw that wouldn’t run because the fuel was old.  Even worse is to run that saw until the motor seizes because someone put straight gas in it.  This can be a tough thing to resolve.

The best way I have found to avoid this is to run the saws for a while on the weekly check.  This will keep the fuel in the saw from getting stale.  Depending on your department you may be able to give your mixed fuel from the cans to a forestry or street department and then refilling with fresh fuel.  You also need to have a system in place to determine when the fuel is going to be swapped.  One person in charge is definitely the way to delegate this, otherwise your fuel will stick around too long, or get replaced too often.

While we are on the topic of one person in charge, make sure you don’t have too many people that think they need to adjust the carb on the saw.  I have seen firefighters adjusting things they had no authority touching, then the next day another guy resets the idle.  Before long the saw isn’t running at all.  One person and only one makes those kinds of adjustments.  Develop a plan to pass on work that has been or needs to be done so repairs aren’t duplicated.

All your tools deserve daily attention.  A quick check will keep you from having a dead battery, no fuel, or something on the bottom of the tool box all rusted up.  It doesn’t take long, and it sure beats being embarrassed on the scene.

 A little maintenance goes a long way. 

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