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Dept. of Transportation Conducts Surprise Inspection at SERMC

By Dan Smithyman, SERMC Public Affairs | SERMC | Aug. 21, 2015

MAYPORT Florida —

One of the busiest shops at the Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) got a surprise visit from the Department of Transportation (DOT) June 25, and the inspector left with all smiles.


The self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) shop inspects, hydrostatic tests, and returns the air cylinders shipboard firefighters use to breathe clean air.  The lives of these firefighters depend on the proper operation of these cylinders.  That fact is not lost on the Sailors as they passed the DOT inspection with zero violations and a 100 percent passing grade. 


“DC1 (Pearl) Greene was in the process of doing our quarterly self-assessment when the inspector arrived, and of course, she was using their form,” said Damage Controlman First Class(SW) Jose Espinal. “The inspector was surprised.  He liked the organization and cleanliness of our shop, and because we had an SOP (standard operating procedure) at each work station.”


“DC1 Espinal, DC1 Green as well as the Workcenter Supervisors DC1 (Jeffrey) Morris and DC2 (Darnell) Catron ensure that we are doing our weekly training,” said the shop’s leading chief petty officer, DCCS(SW) Carlton Garrett.  “They execute the work packages as well as perform proficiency training with the actual equipment.”


Espinal said it had been about three years since the last surprise inspection, which he said is about the normal frequency of surprise inspections.  The SERMC SCBA Shop maintains a high standard of operational readiness for the sake of supporting the fleet while adhering to the strict DOT standards, and part of that is training.  SERMC trains beyond the requirements set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the document used to regulate the certification, use, transportation and storage of cylinders containing compressed gas.  He said they conduct extra training to make sure everyone in the shop becomes proficient in SCBA handling procedures.  Espinal said DOT can levy fines to those in violation of DOT regulations.


The DOT inspector, who works in the Office of Hazardous Materials and Safety Field Operations, checked every aspect of SERMC’s operation from the time the shop receives SCBA cylinders from the ships, to the time those cylinders are returned.  SERMC has already processed 271 SCBA bottles, 291 packs, and 25 Emergency Breathing Air Compressors (EBAC) so far this year.


“They looked at our admin paperwork, they inspected the way we look inside the cylinders, how we inspect the threads, how they are marked, our special permits, the calibration of our gauges, our hydrostatic testing, everything,” Espinal said.


Garrett said just because they won’t see another surprise inspection for a while doesn’t mean it’s time to relax.


 “We will continue to maintain our standards with our training plan and will continue to execute our quarterly review,” he said.  “This helps the continuity for when we crosstrain as well as when new personnel are assigned the SCBA shop.”