Pandemic-Related Pinch Leads Fire Company to IIA

Back in 2021, when the Water Witch Fire Company in Port Deposit, Maryland, tried to schedule annual hose testing with its usual provider, they ran into a roadblock courtesy of COVID-19.

NFPA Inspections

“Hose testing is not easy to do — it’s all physical,” says Chief Andrew Bannon of the Water Witch Fire Company. “All the companies we had used in the past, and other companies we reached out to, were having difficulty finding people to do hose testing.”

But then he placed a call to Industrial Inspection & Analysis (IIA), and was able to schedule hose testing for Spring 2022. As luck would have it, IIA was later able to move that testing up to December 2021.

“IIA worked with me really well on scheduling. We were in constant contact,” says Chief Bannon. “My guys all raved about what a good job IIA did with the hose testing and how easy the technician was to work with.”

Those rave reviews included the meticulous hose repacking that IIA is known for

“In the past, we’ve not always been happy with the way other companies repacked our hose,” notes Chief Bannon. In fact, on one occasion, sloppy repacking by a previous vendor caused hose to fall off one of the fire trucks while driving down the road.

Detailed reporting is another thing that sets IIA apart from its competitors. Chief Bannon appreciates knowing not only which hose failed a test — but why. Dependability also helped IIA stand out from the competition.

“We’re an all-volunteer company, and it can be hard to arrange to get people there to accommodate the vendor and supply water for the testing,” says Chief Bannon. “There have been times where I’ve scheduled my people to be there, only to get a call from the vendor that they were not going to make it that day after all.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Chief Bannon has expanded the scope of work to be completed by IIA in 2022 to include the fire truck and ladders, aerial devices, hoses, and pumps. He also readily recommends IIA to other fire departments in the area.

“What we need with fire equipment testing is prescribed by very specific National Fire Protection Association standards. You can’t go to Wal-Mart to get hose testing done,” explains Chief Bannon. “We’re all looking for knowledgeable, dependable crews that we can trust.”

“We are really happy with IIA – not just the operational side, but the scheduling and communications,” he says. “With other vendors, I would call or email and not receive a reply. IIA gets back to me right away.”

Ultimately, his department and IIA share a mission to make the world safer. That includes the equipment firefighters rely on.

As Chief Bannon says: “It’s reassuring to know that our equipment passed the test and is ready to go when we need it.”

Fun Fact:

The Water Witch Fire Company’s unusual name came about for a very practical reason. Formally founded in 1844 as the Goodwill Fire Company of Port Deposit, the department purchased a used horse-drawn steam fire engine from a Delaware company called the Water Witch Fire Company, which was going out of business. At that time, it was less expensive for the fire company to change its name than it was to change the gold metal lettering on the side of the steam engine. Source: