Not long after you read this, a significant event for vehicle technicians will take place. I'm not talking about the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) SuperTech 2006 competition; that's already done with, and you'll read about it in our next issue.
I'm referring to the October 14 national certification exam date set by the Emergency Vehicle Technicians Certification Committee (EVTCC), an organization in Dundee, IL that sets standards for technicians working on emergency vehicles and firefighting apparatus.
Much like those offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), EVTCC tests verify the technicians' skills in specific subject areas, and passage of combinations of these tests qualify a technician for certification as a Master Fire Apparatus Technician, Master Ambulance Technician, or Master Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Vehicle (ARFF) Apparatus Technician.
Test subjects cover a range of essential topics, such as Fire Apparatus Design & Performance, Advanced Electrical Systems, Allison Automatic Transmissions, Hydraulics Systems, Ambulance Heating, A/C & Ventilation, and even Fleet Management (based on principals published by the Association of Equipment Management Professionals [AEMP] in The Career Equipment Fleet Manager).
My reason for mentioning this is simple: over the years I have heard countless conversations at trucking industry meetings that centered on the idea of a national certification program for fleet maintenance technicians. Many fleet maintenance managers would love to see a program where their technicians could have access to the latest technical knowledge, and a way to show that they have mastered that knowledge. The system devised by EVTCC is a perfect model for such a program.
Much as TMC has imitated the best of state and corporate technician competitions to create their wildly successful SuperTech national technician skills competition, it (or another organization) could mimic the EVTCC testing and certification model to establish national standards for all fleet technicians.
It could be argued that EVTs need these certifications more than other technicians, because lives depend on the work they do. But safety is always the bottom line in vehicle maintenance, whether a truck is carrying a patient or a load of produce.
What do you think? Does the industry need a uniform testing and certification program? If so, what organization would be the best choice to administer it?
Note: the next EVTCC testing date is June 7, 2007, and more test sites are needed in many parts of the country! For more information, call 847-426-4075.