Rescue Tool Maintenance in Times of COVID-19
As a new year has begun, we can’t help but look back at how last year was filled with unexpected and unprecedented times. Many activities around the fire house were cancelled, postponed or neglected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One activity may have been yearly service and maintenance of tools and equipment. This new year starts off with some uncertainty, but we should be better prepared to develop plans to address the service and maintenance activities. This blog aims to help you develop a plan for the service and maintenance of your hydraulic rescue tools.
Why Is Service Important for Hydraulic Rescue Tools?
Every first responder will understand that life-saving equipment should be reliable and safely function under all circumstances. So when it comes to maintenance, it’s obvious that hydraulic rescue tools are at the top of your list, right? Unfortunately this is not always the case. It seems to be one of those pieces of equipment that, for some departments, is not used very often and therefore doesn’t need any regular maintenance. This thought cannot be farther from the truth! The reality is that when you rarely use your hydraulic rescue equipment, it can develop conditions that may make it unusable when it is needed. For example, if a cutter is not used or exercised on a regular basis, the grease on the hinge pins can dry out and cause metal on metal movement, which will cause damage to the parts or may even create a catastrophic failure. On the opposite side of this, departments that use their tools a lot and don’t perform regular maintenance can have the grease on a hinge pin wear away, with the end results being the same. So, as you see, it doesn’t matter whether you use your hydraulic rescue tools a lot or rarely at all, regular maintenance is always important.
“Whether you use your hydraulic rescue tools a lot or rarely at all, regular maintenance is always important.”
Do Battery Powered Rescue Tools Require Less Maintenance?
Many hydraulic rescue tool users may be misled to believe that the battery powered versions of these tools don’t need any regular maintenance, like the traditional gasoline engine powered with hoses do. This is partially true, as you don’t have the engine maintenance to do. Secondly, the hydraulic oil system is a closed system so the oil doesn’t need to be replaced yearly. And, of course, there are no hydraulic hoses to check. However, there still are the moving components of cordless rescue equipment, i.e. the arms, blades and levers, that need to be serviced the same way as these components in traditional hose tethered hydraulic rescue tools.
“The arms, blades and levers of battery powered rescue tools require the exact same maintenance as these components in traditional gasoline engine powered equipment.”
What Should Be in Your Service and Maintenance Plan for Hydraulic Rescue Tools?
We can roughly divide hydraulic rescue tool maintenance in two different parts: Maintenance after use, which you should carry out yourself and annual maintenance, which shall only be conducted by a factory trained technician. Some fire departments with full service maintenance shops may have these trained technicians and can take care of the maintenance of their hydraulic rescue tools. Others will need to contact their local dealer and schedule a maintenance appointment. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, local restrictions may prevent a service technician from visiting your firehouse. In this case, it may be possible to arrange for loaner equipment to be put in service while your rescue tool set is taken to the technician’s shop for its check-up. Both types of service, annual and after use, should be included in your plan.
“Both after use and annual maintenance should be included in your service plan. If COVID-19 restrictions prevent a service technician to visit your fire house, ask for loaner equipment options.”
Helpful Resources for Service and Maintenance
If you work with Holmatro rescue tools, all “after use” inspection, cleaning and storage instructions can be found in the user manual. You can always retrieve a digital copy of each manual from the product catalog on the Holmatro website. Simply look up the name of your tool (see product label), navigate to its product page and click on the download tab. Here you can download the user manual as a PDF file. Alternatively, you can also download the maintenance after use instructions here as a separate document. It clearly lists all the steps you should take and includes helpful explanatory images.
Free Solution: The Holmatro Service Portal
Make your life easier with one place to keep track of your tools’ locations, documentation and information, inspection status and maintenance management. The Holmatro Service Portal is a free tool for all users of hydraulic rescue tools, Holmatro and other brands. If you are a Holmatro customer, you can also use it for sending service requests to your local dealer.
“You can make your life easier by using the available (digital) resources and tools for timely and proper rescue tool maintenance.”
This new year will most likely show us what a new normal is going to become. Fire and Rescue Departments are adapting to new procedures and policies. So this may be a good time too, to make a solid plan for the maintenance of your rescue equipment. With the help of existing (digital) resources and tools this should be easier than ever. Fire and rescue equipment dealers are also adapting to new ways service will be conducted. Working together, you will be able to ensure that your hydraulic rescue equipment is always ready to respond, safely and effectively.
Rescue Consultant at Holmatro USA