Clean Those Tires!

Many times when fire departments automate their paper checklists, they find some of the procedures they have been following haven’t been questioned in years.

A case in point comes from a certain Northern Ohio firehouse.

They had a rule stating that every evening, all the vehicles in the station had to be driven out onto the driveway so they could thoroughly wash down the tires.

The crew performed this tedious task dutifully every night.

Then one day, a few years ago, a new guy started with the department. As new guys often do, he questioned the procedure, asking the lieutenant why they were washing down the tires every night? The lieutenant replied that it’s been in the book for as long as he could remember. He then told the new firefighter if he’d like to find out in his spare time why it’s on the list, it was okay by him.

So the new guy went down to the town library which kept historical documents on everything that happened in the city.

It turned out the wheel washing rule dated back to the early 1900’s when most people still got around on horses and buggies. The horses left plenty of dung on the road, and the firehouse vehicles often picked it up on their tires. Nobody wanted the firehouse to smell of horse-poop, so they made a regulation that every night the wheels of all the vehicles had to be cleaned off.

It’s been more than a few decades since horse manure has been a problem in that town. So when the new firefighter shared his research with the lieutenant and chief, they rescinded the nightly tire cleaning rule.

Sometimes, it takes a new set of eyes to ask the questions that need to be asked!

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