"It's difficult in two ways," he goes on. "One, to be able to pull the guys off the shop floor to do the training, and the second is to get the (factory trainers) here. The painful part is that there is an expense. I can't get any vendors to foot the bill on their own. We have to pay for their travel and lodging when they're in town. But we do that out of necessity, and because it's the right thing to do for our folks.
"I'll give you my best example," he says. "We have so many units moving into the multiplex world, and we have to train our guys on multiplexing, because that's what's happening as the standard now on the apparatus side of the fleet. So I just signed a P.O. to bring someone into town for a three day, in-depth training class."
Some fleet maintenance managers have discovered another hitch in the EVT Certification program: it can create inequality in the workplace. Steve Wilde encountered this when he introduced the program to his union shop and had to convince the technicians that without the Certifications, the company couldn't compete.
Bill Malcolm learned a similar lesson when he took over as manager of fleet operations two years ago for Metro Nashville and Davidson County, TN. Malcolm already had a dozen EVT Certified Master Technicians on staff, but when the City of Nashville consolidated its fire and rescue fleet with the rest of the city fleet he had to reconcile two different pay and benefit packages.
"When we were consolidated, part of the problem was people want to stay in their own stovepipes," he explains. "EVTs were all associated with the Fire Halls, so that created some issues. They had a different benefits package than a regular metro civil service employee. But they're in a good spot because every one of the EVTs has dual role: they're EVTs, and they're Master Technicians for medium and heavy duty vehicles."
These issues, important as they are, don't detract from the essential value of the EVT Certification program.
"Maintenance has become a huge issue in our industry," says Steve Wilde. "EVT has been able to continually challenge the technicians to learn more and be better prepared for the jobs we have to do.
"Fire service is very unique," he explains. "It's a brotherhood. After 9/11, I think everyone in America realized that firefighters from LA to NYC, and from Anchorage to Honolulu are brothers. And the technicians are part of that brotherhood—they have the same dedication, and the same attitude towards their jobs. This is not just a job; it's a calling. We realize that we're an integral part in the firefighters' lives, and their safety."
For more information, go to evtcc.org