The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) recently commissioned an evaluation of the entire fleet of domestic and aerodrome vehicles.
Two experts with Pierce and Oshkosh Manufacturing recently travelled to all Fire Service locations on all three islands to undertake a thorough assessment of the fire trucks in service.
The on-site assessments were completed on Sunday, 12 February 2017 and the findings report should be received by the Ministry within two weeks.
It is anticipated that in addition to identifying any issues that require immediate action, the recommendations therein will enable the department to develop a Fleet Replacement Strategy and inform the next cycle of budget preparations.
“Preliminary talks with the representatives indicated that most of the vehicles are in fair condition for their age, apart from a domestic tanker located on Cayman Brac which is suffering from corrosion,” Fire Chief David Hails explained. “Apparently, this tanker was used to drive through sea water to rescue stranded members of the public during Hurricane Paloma in November 2008.”
The issue was brought to the attention of CIFS’ Senior Management and the Ministry so that immediate action could be taken.
“It’s inevitable with the type of climate like we have here in the Cayman Islands,” Chief Hails said. “The hot temperatures, humidity levels and salt environment can, over time, take a toll on the vehicles.”
In order to comply with the recommendation to take the corroded truck off line, the CIFS will ship a truck from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac on Tuesday, 21 February 2016, if weather permits.
“The Fire Service must follow maintenance schedules issued by the manufacturers to ensure not only the mobility of the fire trucks, but also the safety of our fire officers,” Chief Hails explains. “It’s critical that we have serviceable equipment which our fire officers can rely upon and have confidence in because when putting out a fire every second counts, and when saving lives can depend on speed of operations, every motion must have purpose.”
The Fleet Replacement Strategy will identify the life expectancy of each vehicle, and target replacement dates.
“Whilst the assessment will greatly assist in the development of a strategic replacement plan, there are many other factors that need to be considered, such as; outdated technology, vehicle purpose, maintenance and running costs,” the Fire Chief notes.
Chief Hails said the average life expectancy of fire vehicles is around ten years, and with many of the vehicles in the fleet currently around that age, it is important this strategy be developed and carried out.