4 Reasons Pen and Paper Truck Checks are broken

Apparatus Checks have always frustrated me. I did them every morning with the Forest Service on the Type 3 engine I worked on. What stood out to me was how awkward it was carrying around a clipboard and pencil to do a job that clearly needed two hands. I got the paper wet when I checked the pump, I misplaced the clipboard when I was going through the cab, and on occasion, I got oil on everything when checking the oil level. However, a little clipboard fumbling is not a reason to change process. These are:


The chief is rarely going through every truck and starting the Stihl Chainsaws week in and week out. This task is often delegated to a Captain or more junior firefighter. The only way the chief knows if the truck check gets done is if he is physically in the station when it is done and is there to receive the piece of paper.


If your crew is coming off of 3 days off shift and you notice the jaws of life are broken, it probably isn’t easy to find out why. If your department is organized, maybe you hunt down the piece of paper from the last apparatus check performed and hopefully gain some insight into why it is broken. More than likely, you won’t have any idea what went wrong.

Lost in Translation

The whole point of apparatus checks is to make sure the truck is in tip-top shape and ready to respond at a moment’s notice. When something is found to be broken, it becomes a game of telephone. The issue is reported to the captain, who reports it to the chief, who leaves a message with the mechanic - and through that chain of communication, you hope the initial reported issue is communicated clearly.

Big Picture

Each piece of paper representing a truck check gives you a picture of the truck at a moment in time. But you can’t synthesize that across time to answer valuable, cost saving questions like - What piece of equipment is failing the most? Which vendors have the highest quality chainsaws? Which of my trucks is consistently in the best shape?

Halligan can solve all of these with department wide emails and mobile push notifications, Truck Check History reporting, and in-depth analytics.

by Alex Montgomery