Last week, while in Florida for the FDSOA's Apparatus Specification and Maintenance Symposium, I had the opportunity to present FIRE CHIEF's 2012 Emergency Vehicle Technician of the Year award to Shaun Sigrest of the Springfield (Mo.) Fire Department. Sponsored by C.E. Niehoff, the award honors an EVT for his or her outstanding efforts to promote a high standard of excellence in quality and safety in emergency vehicles.
Sigrest is certified to both ASE Master Truck and Master EVT levels. He also is a member of the IAFC's Emergency Vehicle Management Section and the Heartland Emergency Apparatus Technicians (HEAT). The Springfield Fire Department covers a population of 160,000 people with 12 fire stations, 26 frontline fire apparatus and three reserve companies. Four new pumpers equipped with compressed-air foam are due next month and will be the first CAFS units for the department.
In his nomination of Sigrest, David Pennington — Springfield Fire's assistant chief of operations — wrote that Sigrest moved to establish a fire-apparatus shop after five years in his position at a city shop. In doing so, he took on the responsibilities for not only maintenance, but also for setting up the software for the new shop, finding outside supply vendors, and purchasing the necessary tools and parts. In the end, Sigrest’s efforts helped save more than $30,000 in the FY 2011 fleet-maintenance budget.
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Sigrest operates a three-bay fire shop and is its only employee. While his workload is “tremendous” according to Pennington, Sigrest does an amazing job of prioritizing and completing the large volume of work.
I asked Sigrest what was one of the most common problems he sees working on fire trucks and he replied that he sees a lot of electrical problems due to the use of salt and calcium chloride on the roads in their community. “I also see a lot of brake related issues and apparatus with insta-chains,” he said.
The apparatus symposium featured a presentation on apparatus design. Sigrest said that if he could design a fire truck, his first priority would be accessibility to all systems of the truck. He commented that the issue has improved in recent years with hinged pump panels, removable panels and tilt cabs.
When I asked what advice Sigrest would have for new technicians, he replied, “Educate and challenge yourself,” he said. Get the basic mechanical skills down with experience and build on that knowledge. He added that volunteering with a fire department would help a technician understand best how the equipment is used.
Like our previous EVTs of the Year, Sigrest is a soft-spoken, humble man. He doesn’t say too much, but when he does, he’s direct and to the point. Good traits for an EVT, I would think.
Congratulations to Shaun Sigrest, the 2012 EVT of the Year.