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brian991219

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brian991219 last won the day on February 17

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About brian991219

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    1st Class Contributor

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  • Location
    Hawley, PA

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  • Company
    Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC
  • WreckMaster Level
    4/5
  • TRAA NDCP Certification
    Level 2 Medium/Heavy Duty

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  1. In this particular instance I absolutely agree that the vehicle should not have been driven onto the carrier because the trouble complaint was brake problems. Now, per the new source it was a leaking fuel line that ignited -not something one would expect on a vehicle that was reported to have brake issues. That said, it could have been leaking brake fluid that ignited rather than fuel as news sources often get the little details incorrect. Now, I will play devils advocate with this issue in general as I have driven thousands of vehicles on and off rollback decks as well as car haulers during the nearly thirty years I have been in this industry. Auto transport was always a large part of my business when I owned my company and as such it was very common to drive vehicles on and off the truck often not using the winch for days or even weeks. As with everything else we do in this industry there is always a risk associated with the job. I never would advocate driving a vehicle onto a carrier deck that has not been inspected or driven thru the parking lot (at slow speeds obviously). I am not advocating for backing up to a car and then just driving it up onto the deck, especially one with known mechanical defects that could cause loss of braking or steering control, but rather your "transport" work for car rental companies, dealers and other such entities. Yes, there could be a slip and fall hazard so extra caution is warranted and being positive the parking brake will hold is paramount. Aluminum or smooth steel decks are problematic, diamond plate steel has almost as much traction as the pouched decking on car hauler trailers. Overall, when using the same precautions one would use loading a 7 or 9 car trailer, driving a vehicle onto the carrier deck can be accomplished with the same level of safety as winching. Really, what is the difference driving onto the deck of these two transport vehicles?
  2. Again you bring up great points Randy. Of course a tower must comply with the letter of the law when displaying emergency lighting otherwise there could be a way out of responsibility for a driver that fails to move over and causes a crash. The difficult part, as you are well aware, is laws and regulations can often be contradictory. One rule may require displaying flashing lights to be covered under the move over law but another may require only using four-way flashers while stationary. It can become a no win situation, and as I often say compliance with regulation does not always equal safety. When I call for "less is more" I am not saying a tower, or other responder, should not use emergency lighting as required by their state code, rather I am saying it is often best to use the minimal amount of emergency lighting that is required by such codes. NFPA even suggests as much in their emergency lighting standards (forgive me for not citing the exact standard my reference materials are not with me), suggesting that as other apparatus arrive on scene the level of light from each apparatus can be reduced to avoid over saturation of light and the resulting confusion to motorists. This is why I am calling for a national standard to be applied across all 50 states regarding color and deployment of emergency lighting. Same as we have the MUTCD to guide traffic control in all states, so a work zone or street sign looks the same no matter where in the US a driver is, so should emergency lighting and the colors used. Motorists will not respond to a hazard unless the perceive a need to respond. Let's stop confusing them with different colors and patterns of lighting so that they can begin to recognize the need to respond in order to avoid striking our workers.
  3. Is a propane tanker every really empty? Unless cleaned and purged they will always have some residual vapor inside which is just as deadly as being fully loaded. About the best that can be done roadside is transfer the remaining liquid and reduce pressure to atmosphere but there will always be some residue left that can pose an explosion hazard from a leaky seal, fitting or hose. This is why even empty tankers usually require the appropriate endorsements and placards displayed. As for propane, the gas is heavier than air so it settles to the ground, it boils rapidly at -44 degrees C, making it expand when exposed to temperatures outside the tank that are warmer than -44C. The expansion happens at a rate dependent upon atmospheric temperature but can be averaged at 10X the volume at -44C for simple math. Even the slightest residue inside a tank can produce enough vapor to explode when released to the air. Another thing to consider when dealing with propane tankers, the gauge on the back of the tank is not always accurate. As with any liquid temperature plays an important role in volume. It is not uncommon to see a significant decrease (10-15%) in the level on the gauge after as little as a 20 degree F outside air temperature change. This is perfectly normal behavior for a propane tank. This is why when filling propane tanks the technician uses a fixed level gauge (often confused for being a vent valve) to know when the 80% of tank capacity is reached rather than the tank float gauge. That said, and this comes from direct experience with propane tankers (I have a customer that I train their drivers for that is a propane and oil distributor), I have no doubt that both Ed's tanker and the one you are referencing had a leak. It is never normal to smell residual propane unless the truck just finished a delivery within a few minutes. You will smell some vapor during a delivery but it dissipates quickly. If the truck smells like propane when you arrive to service or tow it there is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed by a qualified technician that specializes in the product and equipment on site. Side note on fuel tankers, especially gasoline, empty or partially empty tanks have the most fire danger. The larger the volume of vapor in the tank the more likely it is to explode. Also partially empty tanks are more unstable to tow due to the shifting liquid surge as you brake and turn.
  4. On the first tow from the point of disablement to the nearest place of repair or safe place like the tow yard, no. For any secondary tow then the appropriate endorsements are required such as tank and hazmat. Keep in mind, first tow/nearest place are very subjective to interpretation so it is always better to be fully qualified to operate any vehicle you will be towing. I always recommend towers have all the endorsements even for a first tow to reduce liability should something go wrong and so that they have had some basic training/knowledge at least once in their career regarding special situations surrounding hazmat or tank vehicles.
  5. Randy, I have mixed personal feelings about this as I personally subscribe to the less is more theory with warning lights. I believe the more lights you display the more distracting you could be to passing motorists. This is the same reason I despise the laws requiring display of flashing lights while in-tow that several states still have on the books. Over use of amber warning lights desensitizes the public to their presence thereby reducing their effectiveness. That said, I do believe that overhead warning lights should be activated whenever a tow truck or service vehicle is stationary on the shoulder of the highway and in very limited situations where they are otherwise a hazard to traffic. As for which devices on modern tow trucks should be used, I call for minimal strobe or rotating lights, mounted high and wide on the vehicle with controls setup in a manner that allows the operator to select the number and direction of the lighting used based upon each scene's unique conditions. Example, if the truck is on a limited access highway then only the rear facing strobes need be activated so as not to cause a distraction to the oncoming traffic across the median but on a two lane road then both directions need be activated to provide adequate warning. Same with the number of lamps used, daytime conditions may call for more strobes activated to increase visibility but at night the outside edge strobes are more than effective enough. Each state has their own laws or regulations regarding warning light use, what is permitted and even the styles that may be used. While doing the research last year for my American Towman article on tow truck warning lights I noticed a trend where many states have outdated regulations still on the book that called for exactly what you describe above, simple amber flashing lights or simply the vehicle's 4-way flashers not any special purpose device. Many states call for these lights to be mounted on a horizontal plane with a minimum spacing between them, using the same regulations as 4-way or "emergency/hazard" flashers on typical motor vehicles. Very few states specifically permitted (none specifically prohibited) oscillating/rotating or strobe effect lights although in many states these styles of lights have become commonly accepted to use in place of the old fashioned basic flashing warning lights. One of my desires, and personal quests in conjunction with the TRAA, is to develop and implement a national emergency vehicle lighting standard revision that includes towing and road service vehicles. Currently there are standards for fire apparatus, ambulances and police vehicle which is why these vehicles are universally recognizable from a distance regardless of the part of the country one is in, however being towing is private sector and our equipment is not typically funded by a grant program (where the current standards are enforced) we do not have any such uniformity among industry members. Sure, some of these tow trucks look cool with hundreds of flashing and strobe lights but are they safe or effective? Absolutely not! If there were uniform color and mounting standards, as well as uniform usage rules, I strongly believe that warning lights would be much more effective as a part of the advance warning system for temporary traffic control.
  6. Well said Randy and, as always, spot on with your observations and questions. I do not have any answers either, all I know is like you, I too am tired of the broken system we have for roadside responder safety that prioritizes profits over safety in many instances. As for the FSP crew, my hat is off to those operators as they are in harms way much more often than most other roadside responders yet they do their level best to be safe and provide a service to the public. I will comment that I rarely observe a FSP unit as I travel across the US that is not using proper PPE, signal devices and practicing situational awareness. If only we could get our fellow towers to take their commitment to safety to the same level we may start a trend of reducing these fatilities and injuries.
  7. I will be at all four of the American Towman Shows, unless they end up being cancelled. Right now they have all been rescheduled, except for Baltimore which is still on the as planned for November. In addition to the four A.T. shows, I will be at the Mid-West Regional Tow Show in Mason, OH in September and the Tennessee Tow Show in October. I am on the schedule to present at all four A.T. shows and the Mid-West Regional Show. Just an attendee at Tennessee.
  8. I would love to, it would have fit nicely into the Towman Games. Maybe next year? The Mid West Regional Tow Show in Mason, Ohio (put on my TRAO and TRAK) has a skills challenge that includes driving maneuvers. Never have had the time to compete, would like to give it a shot and see how rusty I really am! As for when will the country get back to normal, maybe never -although that may not be a bad thing as normal was broken! All joking aside, I see a slow ramp up back towards being productive, not going to happen by this summer. Maybe we will all be allowed to have Thanksgiving Dinner together, doubtful of any large gatherings much before then. As for the damage, many small businesses will never return and even once the workers get back to work their discretionary spending will be lower for a year or two. I honestly think we are in for a 3-5 year period of recession. Just my .02 cents, hope I am proven wrong. Your and my world as trainers will never be the same, people are going to get more comfortable with distance learning and it will become mainstream, negating the draw for in-person hands-on classes. Now, I know not everything we teach can be adapted to online, but much of it could. Imagine doing the classroom portion at the students own pace before the hands-on portion, it would cut down the disruption to the schedule quite a bit. Walk into the yard, do the hands-on practical and ride away in half a day? On this subject, the FMCSA has proposed relaxing the CDL exam standards (at least temporarily) to allow for an exam to be conducted using technology instead of having the examiner ride along in the vehicle with the permit holder. This indicates to me that the US DOT is preparing for a long term disruption to how we do things in person, especially since the state driver licence agencies have until June 30 to submit their plans for review. I take this to mean driver license testing, and other DMV functions, will not return to normal until sometime in 2021.
  9. This is exactly why I have been trying to bring my Defensive Driving for the Tow Operator seminar to the tow shows for the past few years. I want to generate interest, or at least discussion and thought about professional training for towing operators. So much of our industry focus is on below the hook training -which is extremely important- but we miss other equally critical areas such as how to drive the darn truck! Thanks for the awareness you bring to this and other important issues outside the normal for our industry. Can't wait to get together when the country opens back up and have a meal to discuss what is next and what the new normal is going to look like.
  10. With the new normal off working from home many towers I have spoken to have moved their dispatch operations to the home office or have allowed their dispatchers too work from home. This is fairly simple to do today with high speed internet, laptop computers and virtual phone systems replacing traditional wireline services. My question is, what security measures have you taken to protect the integrity of your company data when accessing it remotely? It would be devastating if someone hacked into your dispatch or billing software and held the data hostage, or worse yet, used it for fraudulent purposes. Most business liability insurance policies have some coverage for cyber crime, however many do not cover work from home or other unsecured networks. Let's face it, not everyone is computer savvy and security conscious. Even on my own network at the home office, where I am very conscientious of cyber attacks, I have attempts almost daily. My home network is worse because my wife and in-laws (they live in an apartment in my home) are not very security aware even after I have educated them. Here are a few tips I have for computer security in these unusual times. Perhaps Ron and Chris have even more to add as they are very familiar with web based security? If your work at home employees are using their own personal computer or cell phone make sure it has an effective anti-virus and the latest updates/patches for their operating system Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote access to your office servers/computer system Insist on password security including regular changes and not reusing old passwords Make sure your work from home employees have firewall protections on their router/wifi network -including a robust password for wifi access Ask remote workers to limit sharing and non-essential internet use while connected to your software and/or servers to help prevent backdoor entry Consider supplying company owned computer equipment and phones for long term work at home situations to allow for better cyber security controls Monitor usage and access logs daily for reports of suspicious activity Pay for effective cyber security measures for work from home positions to discourage your employee from taking the cheap/free source way out or ignoring the requirements Consider data security training such as anti-phishing and email integrity training for any employee that ha internet access to company software (even drivers on cell phone/tablets) Now is a good time to also review your internet and social media policies for all employees. It is tempting to pass the slow time on social media or watching internet video, although this is a easy way for hackers to gain access to secure systems. Be very wary of loan offers, including those that appear to be from the SBA or other government sources, coming via email or social media. Many are false and just looking for your business info so they can scam you out of money or clean out your bank account. Be very aware and damn sure of what you are replying to! A popular scam going around on Face Book currently is to have you play along to a copy and paste challenge where you google your first car or some variant of that, then post it as a challenge. What this, and similar scams, does is give hackers clues about your potential security question answers such as year you graduated (senior photo challenge in honor of class of 2020), high school attended, first car, current car, etc. Do not participate in these "games" as you are exposing much of your personal identifiable information to the whole world. Further, by using copy and paste for the original challenge you give the author of such challenge, usually a bad guy, access beyond your security setting on Face Book to view your answers and do who knows what with them. As always, be alert and diligent in your safety and security measures.
  11. I did not know Donnie well, met him a few times in the early to mid 90's. He helped me with my first 2/3 course which was the theory only home study version. I was surprised when I called the office asking for help and they put him on the phone. Always appreciated his drive for professionalism. WM 991219
  12. This question has been popping up all over social media since the FMCSA declared a nationwide suspension of the hours of service regulations for truckers providing relief related to the COVID-19 outbreak. There has been some bad, misleading and downright incorrect information published all across social media since then. See below for my professional opinion on this subject as well as links to the actual text of the relief announced by the FMCSA. In short, I do not believe towers are included in the relief from hours of service, even when towing a truck that was legally included. The only exception would be if the tower were providing direct assistance themselves by transporting material or supplies used for a quarantine facility, temporary health care project or maybe a generator to a retail store or emergency supply stock pile. Even then, there is still a duty to not operate dangerously or in a fatigued condition, and should an incident occur (crash, injury or fatality) you can bet that the prosecutor would attempt to prove, most likely successfully, that the hours of service relief was not applicable or the operator failed to properly rest. Simply put, it is not worth trying to use the relief from hours of service as it is vague at best as to what is qualified use. https://fleetcompliancesolutions.net/covid-19-hos-guidance https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/us-department-transportation-issues-national-emergency-declaration-commercial-vehicles
  13. I would love to see a peaceful protest and a work stoppage to get our point across. The US Department of Labor regularly calls for "Stand Down for Safety" periods in various industries where they encourage management to stop work for a hour or so and use that time to focus on a particular work risk with their crews. It would be awesome and effective to get our point across if the tow industry picked a day and said from 6 AM to noon no one is going to respond with a tow truck for any call except life safety critical (entrapment or something similar). This would cuse a traffic nightmare and may result in contract issues for many law enforcement and motor club towers, but in the end the results would be worth it. Now, I am a realist and know full well that most towing companies are operating on such tight margins that they could not afford the short term financial consequences of a planned work stoppage. There is a real likelihood that a planned stoppage would cost a few companies their contracts, at least for a 14-30 penalty suspension period, and that some companies that choose not to participate would take full advantage of the stoppage and attempt to steal away customers and contracts. Even so, the cause is just and important enough to warrant some risk for the success of the movement.
  14. I am looking forward to it this year. With all the travel I do for work, San Antonio is one city I have not been to yet. Can't wait to check it out.
  15. This is not cool or heroic in any way! The tower that interfered with the police chase should be charged with obstruction or something similar. The only time I can condone this type of interference is when it is requested by law enforcement such as when they request tractor trailer drivers to block a highway to stop a suspect, and even then I have a hard time saying it is ok to place civilian vehicles in harms way. This is a huge black eye for those of us in this industry trying to gain acceptance as professional. You don't see the fire department chasing down the ambulance, and it is one of their pieces of equipment. Further, the tower almost caused a major wreck at one of the intersections when he tried to stop the ambulance and caused them to barely miss a stopped vehicle. Thankfully the stopped vehicle was paying attention and moved to the side just in time to avoid being struck. We are not equipped, trained or skilled in vehicle apprehension -leave that task to the professionals. They did not need to make a chase, the helicopter was tracking the ambulance and perhaps it even had a locating device for dispatch so it was really a simple matter of waiting for the suspect to stop and then apprehending them.
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