WFC News

Posted: Aug 2, 2013

Cost Recovery for Hazmat Incidents

By Richard Marinucci

Any organization responsible for responding to hazmat incidents is well aware of the challenges to develop and sustain the program. For fire departments that accept this as part of their core responsibilities, or even if they are resigned to the fact that they are likely to be the ones called to respond, the pursuit of competence is never ending and constantly evolving. Personnel must be recruited and trained, and equipment must be acquired and maintained.

Hazmat Team Models

Just as the fire service has many different models for organization, the same applies to hazmat response teams. They could be part of a single, usually larger, county or metropolitan department or a regional team. With respect to funding for a team, it does not matter how it is formed and organized. To initiate and sustain a team, a department needs money. Response to hazmat incidents requires the appropriate equipment. This has evolved in that there are more requirements for specialty items specific to potential hazards that are found. So in addition to the equipment needed, departments must obtain more varieties of it.

Organizations need to ramp up teams for response. There is an initial investment that provides for basic capabilities. Once a team is established, there are regular and routine requirements to preserve the resources at hand and to acquire additional tools as hazards and technology change. This should be funded through the normal budget process and can be supplemented with grants and other funding sources such as private donations. If an organization or group of organizations elects to prepare to respond to hazmat incidents, they must do so in accordance with an acceptable standard such as those published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The point here is that the startup and operational costs must be borne by the organization.

Cost Recovery

From this point on, it is possible to maintain the capabilities of the team through user fees or cost recovery. Once a department establishes the core skills and services, a vast majority of the funding can be acquired through a billing system that requires those that created the incident to pay for the response. In essence, any equipment that was used can be replaced, personnel costs can be recovered, and administrative fees can be included. The team's capabilities can be maintained by recovering from the responsible party all that contributed to the response.

Cost recovery is as much about making a policy decision as it is about developing a procedure as to how it will work. As such, it is a political issue that elected bodies must decide. With the recent financial pressures on local governments, most people are looking to alternative funding methods, including cost recovery. Yet, some communities are not philosophically on board with charging for service. They believe that taxes should pay for anything government does and if there are no funds then the service isn't provided. The purpose here is not to debate the merits but to reinforce that a community's policymakers must make this decision. Obviously, organizations can influence the decision and must understand their role in offering opinions and engaging in the necessary political issues.

Becoming Apolitical

Once this political issue is resolved, cost recovery must become apolitical. Response must be consistent and unbiased. Everyone gets the same level of service and everyone must pay accordingly. Being friends with the mayor should not exempt anyone from cost recovery efforts. No matter their connections, they should be treated the same way all the way through the incident to the final resolution of cost recovery. As such, teams must establish a policy for pursuing outstanding invoices. The simplest approach is to require payment unless the legal system says otherwise. This means that organiz

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Posted: Aug 2, 2013

Innovation Drives Steady, Rapid Growth at Husky

Chris Mc Loone

Any company aspires to be the best at what it does and to achieve number one status in the markets it serves. Husky® Portable Containment is no different and has enjoyed a very successful eight years in business. The company has experienced steady growth since its inception in 2005. "Last year we sold over 30 percent more folding tanks than the previous year," says Jay Claeys, owner and president of the company. "This year is already on pace to eclipse last year's mark."

The Start

Claeys has been in the portable water tank industry for 22 years, and he founded Husky in December 2004. In January 2005, he began putting the shop together, ordered machines, and found vendors. "And then I started making sales calls," recalls Claeys. "We sold our first folding frame tank in March 2005, so it really didn't take long. But, there was a lot of R&D time from January 1 to March 1."

Claeys says that the first year was a little slow, but in 2006 the company's folding frame tank really took off, and Husky has gained sales every year since. "Our growth has been steady and rapid, and one of the reasons has been the loyal distributorships we have acquired over the last eight years," he says. "Our new product innovations have also been a huge part of putting Husky on the map."

The company's first facility was located in Skiatook, Oklahoma. Shortly after, Husky moved to Dewey, Oklahoma, and a 12,000-square-foot facility that the company has outgrown. It will soon be moving to a brand new 20,000-square-foot plant in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. "We're still such a young company," asserts Claeys. "Even though we're in our ninth year, I'd call us in our sophomore year. We still have a long way to go to build our brand name. We're growing every year. That's how the City of Bartlesville gave us all these incentives. They gave us the land. It's a grant. And they're helping us with money. If you're not growing, you're dying, and we need to keep growing and growing."

The most important thing, according to Claeys, about expanding is to get more product out the door with better lead times to allow the company to move to the next level of growth.

Firefighters use Husky's patent-pending Easy Lift Handles to easily remove any standing water in the tank and to fold it during a water shuttle class. The handles are welded onto the floor of folding tank liners
(1) Firefighters use Husky's patent-pending Easy Lift Handles to
easily remove any standing water in the tank and to fold it during a
water shuttle class. The handles are welded onto the floor of folding
tank liners. (Photos courtesy of Husky Portable Containment.)

Two Divisions

Although folding frame tanks are Husky's core products, the business is diversified. "We build [folding tanks] every day and ship them every day," says Claeys. "But, as the first and second years progressed, we developed more and more products. We sell a lot of salvage covers. Then we got into this environmental business and that started really taking off. So even though folding frames are still our core product, we do a lot of other things."

To that end, the company is divided into two divisions: Firefighting Products and Environmental Safety Products. Its firefighting products include folding frame tanks and portable tank racks, self-supporting tanks, aluminum quick assembly tanks, and decon pools and showers. "We also manufacture salvage covers, hosebed and crosslay covers, staging mats, and RIT tarps. Our floating and low-level strainer sales have been increasing as well,&

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Posted: Aug 2, 2013

Maximizing ERV Motor Oil Drain Intervals Using Fluid Analysis

By Christian P. Koop

The physical task of changing motor/engine oil has remained basically unchanged for more than a century. However, the oil, or lifeblood of your engine as I and others like to refer to it, sure has changed. Failure to change this modern marvel of petroleum and chemicals at the appropriate time will still render the same results today as it did more than a century ago. It will shorten the useful life of your engine, and if the wear and damage caused by failing to change the oil at the proper intervals requires the engine to be overhauled or replaced, it will be one of the most costly one-time expenditures to hit your maintenance budget.

With today's tight budgets, we need to ensure we change oil at the optimal time. Changing it too frequently, in the long run, can cost your operation significantly-both in wasted labor hours and in money spent needlessly on oil and filters. The key is to find the right time to change it. Think of it as the proverbial sweet spot. The best way to do this is by using fluid analysis. Given the complexities of today's engines, whether your fleet is large or small, analyzing your fleet's motor oil is the best practice-not only in finding that sweet spot but also in alerting you to prevent catastrophic engine damage in many cases.

In this article, I will talk briefly about the history of motor oil, some of the main additives in motor oil, what they do, and how some of the information fluid analysis reports will help to proactively protect and prolong the life of your emergency response vehicle's (ERV) most vital component-the engine-whether it is gasoline- or diesel-powered.

Motor Oil

Everyone knows that motor oil's main job is to lubricate moving parts. But, don't forget it also helps to cool, improve sealing, and clean the engine. Oil essentially has a long molecule, and we change it because it gets sheared (loses viscosity), dirty, thicker, and contaminated and its additive packages get used up. The chemical makeup and the improvements of motor oil have changed dramatically over the years.

Many years ago, motor oil was completely derived from crude oil. The problem was that during the combustion process and the normal use of those early engines, oil broke down quickly, viscosity decreased, sludge and varnish formed, and acids were created that attacked vital engine parts. One of the most important requirements discovered in the early years of the automobile for motor oil was the need for proper viscosity. The oil had to have the correct thickness or viscosity (measured by resistance to flow) to ensure metal parts, such as engine bearings, would not come in contact and cause damage.

The Society of American Engineers (SAE) was formed in 1905 and developed standards for motor oil viscosity ratings. The SAE, as most are aware and familiar with, continues to provide these standards. In 1919, the American Petroleum Institute (API) was established to set the minimum performance standards for motor oil that continue to evolve today. It currently licenses and certifies motor oil and appears on oil containers as a "starburst pattern" and the "service donut" symbol.

In the early 1930s, oil additives started to appear that greatly improve the performance of oil and eventually add more protection and prolong engine life. Some of these additives follow:

  • Typically detergents are made from magnesium sulfonate and are used to clean and prevent sludge from forming.
  • Corrosion inhibitors slow down the oxidation of metal inside the engine.
  • Amines and phenals are antioxidants that retard the degradation of the base oil caused by oxidation.
  • Metal deactivators are used to form a film on the metal parts to stop the metal from oxidizing the oil.
  • Viscosity modifiers help to maintain oil at the correct viscosity at higher engine temperatures. Read more
Posted: Aug 2, 2013

Military and Municipal Fire Services Share Equipment Designs

Alan M. Petrillo

Makers of fire apparatus and equipment are reporting more deals with various branches of United States military services, as well as other nongovernmental agencies-Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and others.

Very often, equipment is developed for the military, which then trickles down for use in municipal and industrial applications. And, the reverse also is true-the military purchases tried-and-true municipal firefighting apparatus and equipment because they meet its particular needs.

The Cobra EXM, along with other monitors in the Elkhart Brass EXM line, was developed as a result of work done with United States military services
(1) The Cobra EXM, along with other monitors in the Elkhart Brass
EXM line, was developed as a result of work done with United States
military services. (Photo courtesy of Elkhart Brass.)

Water Appliances

Rick Singer, vice president of North American sales for Akron Brass Company, says his company's dual-flow handline nozzle started its life as a design for the United States Navy, as did a portable monitor design that could be used for shipboard fires. Akron Brass works with all five branches of the United States military, as well as with the National Guard. "The original concept for the Mercury portable monitor was for the Navy," Singer points out, "where Navy personnel could deploy and leave an unmanned device to fight fires on a ship. Likewise, our dual-flow nozzle started as a military design for the Navy. It was later expanded, refined, and provided to the municipal fire market as the SaberJet nozzle."

The Akron SaberJet can put out a solid stream, fog pattern, or both at the same time, Singer notes. "In some cases, the products we provide to the military have been highly specialized to meet stringent and unique military requirements," Singer says. "There's often a need for design robustness that can withstand a saltwater environment or to take excessive shock or vibration."

Another firefighting solution embraced by the military that is finding its way into municipal departments is ultra-high-pressure (UHP) applications, Singer adds. "UHP designs are moving from United States Air Force applications, where a lot of UHP testing and work have been done, and into the municipal fire world and the wildland fire industry," he says.

On the other hand, Singer says, "We've seen solutions started on the civilian side that get taken up by the military, with remote control monitor solutions that have for a long time been embraced in industrial firefighting now being applied by various military branches."

Rod Carringer, chief marketing officer for Task Force Tips (TFT), says TFT also works with all United States military branches because fire suppression is part of their mission at nearly every level. "We've done a lot of work with the Navy, especially on submarines," Carringer says. "They ask us for certain design and performance standards, and often they are not too far from what we offer commercially to municipal and industrial customers."

Carringer says a lot of the TFT military business is in manual handheld nozzles, monitors, and foam-making equipment that is very similar to the kinds of equipment used by municipal fire departments. "A lot of military firefighting deals with base activities, so it is pretty much the same equipment and apparatus as you'd find in your local fire department," he says. "However, there are some specific hazards on bases that have to be dealt with, and those sometimes requ

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Posted: Aug 1, 2013

Fire Industry Today

By Spencer Dell,
Senior Marketing Communications Specialist,
Cummins Inc.

During the past ten years, the fire industry has seen the many changes in emissions regulations relative to on-highway diesel engines. New emissions regulations have brought on new engine technology including electronic fuel systems, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), as well as aftertreatment technology including diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which can be found on most of today's engines. These changes in regulations and the resulting new technology developments have raised some questions on how the exhaust aftertreatment systems will impact fire and emergency vehicle operation. This article will focus on the evolution of the aftertreatment technology used by engine manufacturers in the industry and address how these systems impact the operator.


The year 2007 brought the introduction of the DPF for most in the industry. Engine manufacturers used the DPF to help clean up the particulate matter-one of the emissions pollutants regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and more commonly referred to as soot. By using the DPF in place of the traditional muffler, the engine could operate more efficiently, allowing the aftertreatment system to handle the exhaust emissions control and lowering particulate matter. With the introduction of the DPF came a term known as "regeneration." Regeneration is the process of removing the excess soot (particulate matter) from the DPF by raising exhaust temperature. It often is performed passively while the engine is operating at a certain temperature, although some instances require the operator to manually perform a parked regeneration to clean the system. Standard in all fire and emergency vehicles with a DPF is a series of dash lamps helping to inform the driver when regeneration is required. As the DPF begins to fill with soot, these lamps will illuminate, notifying the operator that a regeneration needs to be performed. One key point to note is that in 2007, Cummins chose not to initiate a "derate," or performance penalty, for fire and emergency vehicles as the DPF filled with soot.

2010 Regulations

In 2010, new regulations brought the emissions levels, most notably oxides of nitrogen (NOx), down to near-zero levels as particulate matter levels were already at this level in 2007. Many engine manufacturers chose to use SCR, which uses diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to help attain these new emission levels. DEF is an additional fluid stored on the vehicle in a specifically labeled tank that the driver needs to refill when needed, much like engine coolant and windshield wiper fluid.

Keeping an adequate DEF level ensures that the engine will operate appropriately and as designed. Just like in 2007 with the introduction of the DPF, drivers are notified of a low DEF level through a series of lamps on a vehicle's dash. Based on typical DEF usage in an emergency vehicle application, operators can expect to fill up their DEF tank roughly 10 times per year or about once every 5.5 weeks depending on the vehicle's use. Maintaining an adequate DEF level is a simple procedure, and Cummins recommends simply topping off the fluid when filling up the diesel fuel tank.

If the DEF level reaches a critically low point on Cummins EPA 2010 engines, a performance penalty (also known as a derate) is initiated to incentivize the driver to refill the DEF tank. This derate, mandated by the EPA in 2010, is a reduction in engine power (torque) applied only when the DEF level is critically low. Cummins implemented a modification in July 2011, based on a change issued from the EPA, to alter the derate specifically for fire and emergency vehicle applications regarding critically low DEF levels. This change resulted from the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers' Association (

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