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Morning Checks

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  • Morning Checks

    What does everyone do in terms of checking your small engines during the morning checks?

    Checking fluids I think is a minimum. But we have a few people that believe that running the chainsaw, positive pressure fan, etc., can be more harmful than good for that piece of equipment. I personally like firing them up to make sure they start up easily and run smoothly, at the start of every shift.

    If it is harmful to those tools to do that... please, let me know!

  • #2
    Up until about a year ago we use to start everything every day. Since then we have started doing it only on our Monday checks. It seems to work well for use this way as it cuts down on wear and tear on the equipment. It also extends the life of most of our equipment.


    • #3
      Simply starting them every day isn't going to hurt them. Where the trouble comes is when they get started, powered up all the way and then shut down in the span of 10 seconds. Small engines develop issues when they aren't allowed to warm up.

      Having said that, starting them is a weekly thing for us, and has been for at least 18 years, not sure about prior to that.
      Last edited by sfd1992; 07-17-2011, 05:44 PM.


      • #4
        Department policy states that all gas equipment will be run on every saturday.

        However, personally I run everything everyday for several mins until each engine is "warmed up". like stated before just firing up them up for for 5 secs is harmful for them. Let them run!!

        Reason why:
        1) it use gas this avoids it from getting old and sitting in the gas cans around the station. the newer style gas doesnt seems to go stale quicker then the older fuel blends. IMO
        2) it seems to make the saws, fans, etc. easier to start later on during the shift.
        3) if for some reason the saw is needed and doesnt start it is my responsablity as the driver of the rig. I can atleast say "lou, it started this morning"

        I tend to check everything from bumper to bumper every day that i drive. I view it as it is my truck for the next 24 hours. My "name" is tied to every piece of equipment on the truck. The condition of the truck and equipment is a direct reflection of myself.


        • #5
          I agree with you completely. It's like "trusting" the firefighter before you to have filled his SCBA after using it... But you're going to check it regardless. I feel the same way about the saws and such. Yeah, they're supposed to get checked on a weekly basis... but, sadly enough, you just can't always trust that it gets done.


          • #6
            We start all of our small engines and the start of every tour, same with checking off the rigs, and the rest of our gear. We work the 48/96 though, so everything gets ran and checked off every other day by the oncoming crews.

            As others have noted, not checking/running the small engines could be just as detrimental as not checking your PPE or drug boxes. Someones life may be on the line at your expense.


            • #7
              Our small engines are started twice a week on the days we clean the bay floor. We have inventory sheets that account for EVERY piece of equipment carried on the vehicles that must be filled out each day. Certain kits/boxes like the Hazmat leak kit, rope rescue equip, tool box, surface water gear etc are all tagged and the tag number must be recorded with the check off sheet. All tagged boxes are opened Mondays and inventoried.
              If your going to cry about doing the job you signed up for do us all a favor and quit, there are plenty of dedicated people standing in line for the best job in the world.



              • #8
                We do rig checks every morning right at shift change or before. Usually once everyone gets in and gets coffee or their chosen poison its about 615-630 and both the oncoming crew and offgoing crew will head out to the engine bay to BS and check the rigs out.

                The SOP states that the small engines will be run every Friday and while this happens, through working overtime I have found that my shift is the only one that checks them every tour. We are careful to let the tool warm up before going ballz to the wall. We have found quite a few problems by simply checking the saws, etc every morning. Guys have gotten slammed with calls all day then a few fires after midnight and a saw blade/chain can get put on backwards or they will fill the fuel but not the bar oil. We all have been there but that excuse isn't gonna fly when at 0715 you get tapped out for a box.

                Plus, when all the little things are done right, everything else seems to fall into place. Our crew has great cameraderie and everyone is motivated. No one has to be reminded to do chores or to find something to do. Rigs will get washed or at least sprayed down. Even if it isn't the day to wash bay floors, if they are ridiculously dirty, we take 20 minutes to spray em down.
                These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.


                • #9
                  Slightly off topic...but I'm wondering if anyone else is having issues running the Ethanol gas in their small engines? We're playing h*** trying to maintain saws and other equipment which is constantly gumming up.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by FFD122 View Post
                    Slightly off topic...but I'm wondering if anyone else is having issues running the Ethanol gas in their small engines? We're playing h*** trying to maintain saws and other equipment which is constantly gumming up.
                    Gas has had ethanol in it since the mid-70's; as much as 10% in premium blends but you typically wouldn't be using those. I doubt ethanol is your issue.
                    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
                    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
                      Gas has had ethanol in it since the mid-70's; as much as 10% in premium blends but you typically wouldn't be using those. I doubt ethanol is your issue.

                      While ethanol was used in the original Model T car and widely implemented in the military, it was not as common as you think in the early years. Methanol, not ethanol, was introduced as a consumer fuel in 1975 through MTBE (which replaced leaded fuel additives) which was later banned due to groundwater risk. It wasn't until the clean air act in 1990 that progression in the ethanol based fuel was given the green light as a way of introducing the mandated oxygenated fuel to the country (along with MTBE, which would be banned 4 years later) on a wide scale. In the late 80's-early 90's, 5% of fuel service stations sold ethanol. By 2007, ( I forgot the name of the bill but it was something along the lines of Energy Independence Act) a bill was signed to nearly double our ethanol production within 8 years. As a result, within 15 years, over 60% of service stations sold ethanol enriched fuels.

                      It is widely known and proclaimed by E-85 experts that you should not use E-85 in conventional (small motors, 2-stroke motors, outboard motors, etc.) motors. While E-10 is considered safe for newer motors, the risk is still more prevalent than ethanol free fuels.

                      The government doesn't make the selling of e-85 mandatory but does require a certain quota of renewable fuel to be sold. (E-10,E-15, E-20, and E-85 may all be used at the businesses and state's discretion. So it's very possible that continued use of ethanol enriched fuel in the departments gas powered tools is contributing to their malfunction.

                      We've fixed our same problem by going to a single station in the city that sells non-ethanol based fuel. See if that helps.
                      ‎"I was always taught..." Four words impacting fire service education in the most negative of ways. -Bill Carey


                      • #12
                        Todays fuel SUCKS. I had to replace a carb in a one year old snow blower because the fuel ate the jets in the carb.

                        Stihl has come up with (maybe they did not come up with it, but they are selling it) a great solution to the whole issue of Ethanol and the problems it causes.


                        92 Octane pre mixed fuel with NO Ethanol. It can be stored with no issues for up to two years and will not absorb moisture like the fuel you buy locally. And since it's pre mixed, no chance at all of anybody making a poor fuel mix, which happens a lot more then you think.
                        The mix ratio is approved for Cutters Edge and Partner saws so their will not be any issue. Since we started using this stuff we have already noticed quicker starts.

                        As for starting up the equipment for testing....

                        If you are going to start the equipment every day but only run it for 30 seconds, you are doing far more harm then not starting them every day. I personally see no need to start a saw 7 days a week. Once or twice a week is plenty. Their is no reason that a saw would work on a monday, be put away and not touched till friday and then have it not start. Their is no battery that could die. If your logic is that they need to be tested every day to make certain they start, then tell me this, are you running your pumps at full pressure every day using all the outlets and inlets? Are you bringing your ladders and platforms to an empty parking lot and running them through their paces at all angles and extensions and flowing water through them? Probably not? And why would that be? Probably because it's ridiculous and time consuming and complete overkill seeing as at a fire scene, if a pump or aerial fals to perform, you would go to a backup plan. Well??? At a fire scene when you pull a saw off the rig, you are going to start it immediatley to make sure it starts, right?. And if it does'nt, what do you do? You grab another one and life goes one. Juts like if a pump fails, an Axe head falls off or your air pack fails as soon as you put it on.

                        We run up all our saws on Saturday mornings for a minimum of 5 minutes each. And we keep a 6 foot long log behind my station that we change out as needed and make one cut, only a few inches with each saw. This does two things, it puts a load on the engine which is important to make certain the saw will not bog down or die under load but it also makes sure that belts on rotary saws are at the proper tension and that chain saw clutches are working properly. Just because your rotary saw blade spins when you pull the throttle does not mean the belt is at the proper tension. A loose belt will still spin the blade but as soon as you put the saw against an object to be cut the belt slips and the blade stops. I have seen it happen. The only way to test the belt is to put the blade into an object to be cut. For chainsaws, you can check the chain tightness with the saw off by pulling up on the chain off the bar.

                        That is my advice for your saws.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FFD122 View Post
                          Slightly off topic...but I'm wondering if anyone else is having issues running the Ethanol gas in their small engines? We're playing h*** trying to maintain saws and other equipment which is constantly gumming up.
                          Anymore, we add Sta-bil to all our gas, wether 4 cycle or 2 cycle. You can also add Seafoam additive. Ethanol is causing a lot of problems, and the additives should help prevent most of that.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johnsb View Post
                            Anymore, we add Sta-bil to all our gas, wether 4 cycle or 2 cycle. You can also add Seafoam additive. Ethanol is causing a lot of problems, and the additives should help prevent most of that.
                            We switched to "Tru-Fuel"....seems to work great, very little exhaust too.


                            • #15
                              Well you answered your own question.

                              You established that despite a saw starting earlier in the day, it did not start later that day. So even if you started checking a saw to make sure it starts every hour on the hour of your shift, it's not going to assure the saw starts when it's needed any more then starting the saw once a day. So why bother doing that?

                              As i said in an earlier post. Pumps, hose, nozzles and ladders are FAR more important pieces of fire service equipment then a gas powered saw. But i know of no department that tests every bit of that equipment on a daily basis. So why is a saw something you worry about so much?

                              I don't see how your reputation is on the line if a saw fails to start?. Follow your department SOG for equipment checks and their should be no issue. A saw can fail to start at any time. Their is no assurance whatsoever that a saw will give some sort of warning during an equipment check to let you know it may fail later that day. The most imporant check for a saw other then a weekly check is checking it the second you pull it off the rig at a fire. That is when it counts. Start it before you even walk away from the rig. If it does not start, grab the spare and let someone know to troubleshoot the dead saw right away.


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