Local volunteer fire departments perform yearly certification testing

Hannah Ward

CULLMAN – On Tuesday, the Walter, Jones Chapel, Good Hope and Bethsadia Volunteer Fire Departments completed their annual hose tests. The departments partnered with Cullman City Fire Rescue to hire Fail Safe, a fire hose, pump and ladder testing company based out of New Jersey. The professional team is only one out of seven crews that the company sends out to perform the tests. The whole testing site was set up in the empty parking lots behind Walgreen’s and Buffalo Wild Wings in the old King Edward Plaza in south Cullman.

Fail Safe is Emergency Vehicle Technician (EVT)- certified, has on-staff firefighters and does everything from unloading the hoses to reloading them back onto the trucks. The participating VFDs had around 15 trucks that needed to be tested and speculated it would take around 15 hours to finish. Cullman Fire Rescue plans to test their trucks later in the week.

“They actually do ladder testing, too” said Bethsadia Assistant Chief Maurice Reynolds. “They load test them to make sure they’re structurally safe. They run the supply hose to about 200 hundred PSI and check it. Now the attack hose, the white hose, goes to about 400 PSI. It’s done per the ISO requirements, the insurance standards. They suggest this be done every year. We coordinated with the Cullman Fire Department and they are doing their testing later this week, so we coordinated so we could all get it in and get the best price possible for this.”

The departments are required by ISO to do hose and ladder testing, the former to prevent the possibility of a hose rupturing. As Reynolds explained, “It’s just for safety so we don’t have a failure when we’re out in the field.”

“We, our company Fail Safe, travel around pretty much the entire East Coast from Maine down to Florida. We go down to local fire departments and we test the fire hoses and make sure everything is up to standard safety regulations. It’s a pretty interesting job, we love coming down to small towns and seeing everything,” said Rob Somers, supervisor at Fail Safe. “The hose testing does not require certification, but the ladder testing does. It’s a fun job, very labor intensive but it’s not a difficult job. We have a good time doing it. We like to call ourselves the largest at hose testing, there’s a couple other companies that do the work, but we have seven crews on the East Coast, so we cover a very large range.”

Fire departments also have to do a pump test every year. Bethsadia performed their test last May with the Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus from Union Grove. For volunteer fire departments, having enough manpower and equipment to perform these tests in-house is nearly impossible. In turn they hire companies like Fail Safe and Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus with the experience and muscle to speedily complete them.