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The purpose of the Fire Mechanics Section is to promote standardization of fire apparatus and equipment preventative maintenance, improve safety standards and practices, promote workshops, conferences, and seminars related to the purposes of this Section, and to promote cost savings through standardization of building and equipment purchasing and maintenance.

RECENT FIRE MECHANIC NEWS

Posted: Nov 4, 2014

Power to Spare: Line Voltage Options for Fire Apparatus

Paul Newton

 

With the ever-growing popularity of multifunction fire apparatus-trucks that can do anything and everything-having adequate onboard power is critical.

 

In addition to lighting the scene, line voltage (AC electricity) on an apparatus can be used for powering communications, extrication, and ventilation equipment and anything else that requires a 110- or 220-VAC source. Many departments choose to specify cord reels with line voltage outlets as well as outlets in the cab and around the body. Although each location will have an individual current rating, the total amount of power you will be able to draw will depend on the power source's capacity. Proper power source specification is critical to ensuring that your apparatus will live up to your expectations. Fire Apparatus Manufacturers' Association (FAMA) member companies can provide a variety of solutions.

Power Sources

An inverter or generator produces AC electricity on an apparatus. Inverters are small-capacity units that convert 12-VDC battery power to 110-VAC power. These units may be adequate for communications equipment or other low-current applications. But for most serious uses, you will need a generator.

Power Needs

Before considering the type of generator you want, you must first determine the amount of power you will need. Take inventory of all the AC devices you will have on the apparatus or that you will be powering from the apparatus, and list the power requirement for each in kW. Think about which devices you will be running at the same time, and come up with the configuration that will require the greatest total power. Add a safety factor of 15 percent or some other value you feel comfortable with, and use this value to size your generator.

Generator Types

When we refer to generators, we are referring to the entire system of parts that make up the power-producing unit. The system may consist of many parts such as motors, belts, shafts, engines, and reservoirs. However, all generators include an alternator. When the alternator spins, it produces power. How we spin that alternator is where the difference in generators appears. There are four main generator types, each with its own pros and cons.

Gasoline

Gas generators typically come in sizes from three to 10 kW. They are the least expensive but also the least capable of the generator options. Since nearly all modern apparatus are diesel-powered, your gas generator will require its own source of fuel. Power will be available anytime the generator is running, whether the apparatus is mobile or stationary. Apparatus design will need to include an additional exhaust system as well as a means of keeping the generator cool during operation. Gas generators can be a good choice for low-power, intermittent use and when the budget is tight.

Diesel

Diesel generators have most of the same installation considerations as gasoline generators-a good location for an exhaust pipe and accommodations to keep the generators cool. Since they run on the same fuel as the apparatus, they do not require an extra fuel tank. Available in sizes from 10 to 50 kW, diesel generators are a good choice for continuous use for high-power applications.

Hydraulic

Hydraulic generators don't need their own power source because they use mechanical power from the main apparatus engine. A power take-off (PTO) on the transmission transfers power, which turns a hydraulic pump. This pump creates pressure in the hydraulic fluid that flows through a hose to drive a hydraulic motor directly attached to the alternator. The alternator and cooling system can be located anywhere on the apparatus and will provide power with the apparatus either stationary or on the move. Hydraulic generators are a great choice for heavy-duty or continuous operation-up to 50 kW-where space is at

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Posted: Nov 4, 2014

Studying the Right Places?

Chris Mc Loone   Chris Mc Loone

The University of Arizona College of Public Health is set to receive $1 million to study fire apparatus accidents.

The university plans to examine four fire departments and is using the Tucson (AZ) Fire Department as its control because of its very low accident rate. Researchers plan to suggest the most cost-effective ways to reduce accidents involving fire apparatus after learning what is causing them.

On one hand, this is great news. An independent entity has taken a leadership role in helping to reduce injuries and line-of-duty deaths caused by accidents occurring during emergency responses. On the other hand, is this study going to conclude with anything that the fire service doesn't already know?

During 2014, we have seen accidents involving rollovers, civilians running into staged fire apparatus, and just recently an apparatus crossed a bridge that gave way underneath it. Is that infrastructure or an operator forgetting to check the weight rating of the bridge before crossing it? Some accidents have involved fire apparatus beginning to leave the roadway and the operator overcompensating to get back on the road, resulting in loss of control. The causes of the accidents are more often than not clear, and the actions that could have been taken to avoid them are also clear. So, what will this study do for the fire service?

According to Arizona University representatives, the study will look at four "major" fire departments. But, is this really where we need researchers to be looking?

Speed, training, and age seem to be three major issues when apparatus accidents occur. If the men and women "riding the seat" are unafraid to tell the driver to slow down, then it should be pretty easy for us to correct speed problems. However, training and age are two areas where looking at "major" fire departments is not going to yield the best data.

We have a crisis in the fire service in our rural fire departments. Often apparatus is up to 30 years old or even older. Personnel are hard to come by. So out of necessity, it is more than likely that the average age of apparatus operators in these areas is going to much younger than in "major" fire departments. It is impossible for anyone to say with a blanket statement that our apparatus operators need to be older. It is inevitable that a 19- or 20-year-old "kid" is going to be behind the wheel at times. Maturity levels will vary, and so will the speed at which 19- or 20-year-olds drive. Often these members have only driven their personal vehicles for two or maybe three years before they start driving million-dollar apparatus weighing in excess of 20 tons. The answer is not so easy for these departments.

Rural roads not built for 96-inch-wide, 20-foot-long vehicles are where many accidents occur. Training to drive these vehicles often is on the job. There aren't resources available to send drivers through full-blown EVOC classes where drivers in training get to drive in controlled environments to truly learn the feel of these vehicles and how they react at certain times. So, training or lack of it is not something that will be easily fixed.

A Tucson Fire Department spokesperson wisely mentions that we also must look at the public. Their distractions have gone from changing a radio station to texting, dialing phone numbers, and then talking on the phone. They just aren't watching out for us. Sometimes it isn't even these distractions. Civilians operate vehicles at too great a speed as well at times. Their vehicles are built to keep out the ambient noise around them. Because of these facts, there are simply times

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Posted: Nov 4, 2014

So, You Want To Buy a Drone?

By Matt Sloane

 

In the 13 years since 9/11, drones have gotten a bad rap.

 

They've been used by the United States military and armed forces around the world to rain destruction on our enemies from afar and are controlled by pilots in a windowless, air-conditioned, video-game-like room at a military base in Nevada.

Those aren't the drones we're talking about here, and while remotely flying a multimillion-dollar aircraft with missiles on it may be every little kid's dream, you can have just as much fun with a very useful, much less expensive system.

These drones-or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as we'll call them-are being adopted by realtors, filmmakers, farmers, and hobbyists alike. They're also being used successfully by many fire departments, search and rescue teams, and law enforcement agencies, and they just may save a life.

1 The DJI Phantom Vision 2+ is a market leader in lightweight, easy-to-use UAVs. (Photo courtesy of DJI
1 The DJI Phantom Vision 2+ is a market leader in lightweight, easy-to-use UAVs. (Photo courtesy of DJI.)

An increasing number of private citizens are showing up during emergencies with their drones, and it's important to understand how the technology works, where UAVs may be useful to you as an incident commander (IC), and when they can do more harm than good.

UAV Use in Public Safety

The potential uses for UAVs in the fire service are numerous, including active fire surveillance, thermal imaging, hazmat response, traffic and crowd oversight, public relations and marketing, and coverage of special events.

Take the case of a standard house fire. The first engine on scene rolls up on a two-story dwelling with smoke pouring out of the attic vents and no visible flames.

Step 1 is the scene size-up, where one or more firefighters take the time to walk around the structure and assess the fire from each side. They report back to the IC, and the fire suppression portion of the event begins.

But, what if all four sides aren't visible? What if your agency is a volunteer agency, and there's only one firefighter on the first-in vehicle? When seconds count, critical resources are being used to size up a scene before taking any action.

Enter a UAV. The first responding firefighter takes 30 seconds to get the aircraft up and running; puts it into the air; and, from the command vehicle, has a live view of all four sides of the structure.

Additional responding companies can use those real-time images to plan the attack, see the best places to park the apparatus, keep track of responding personnel, see active fire hot spots, and potentially even see victims hanging out of open windows or on balconies.

Although setting up the UAV may take as much time as the initial scene size-up, the amount of information gathered is significantly higher.

The benefits of UAVs are multiplied even more in a high-rise fire, where it may take crews several minutes to size up a fire on the 10th floor, or in a hazmat situation, where specialized teams and gear need to be brought in before anybody knows what's really happening at the site.

It's also important to consider when flying a UAV may not be appropriate. Strong winds and rain may make flying difficult, and you should never fly within an area where you may encounter low-flying commercial or private air traffic.

Flying too close to strong thermal updrafts around a fire could damage your equipment permanently, and personnel should avoid flying low over large crowds.

2 The Decatur (GA) Fire Department t
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Posted: Oct 10, 2014

Product News

LEADER large-flow fans

LEADER large-flow fans are used to provide smoke extraction in large structures such as parking garages, airports, aircraft on the ground, subways, and rail and road tunnels. The Easy 4000 fans have the BMW Flat Twin engine. It provides airflow of 400,000 m³/h in the open air, and the four-stroke BMW engine has electronic startup. Their low weight allows one or two firefighters to handle them easily. Equipped with a nozzle-spraying system in the standard version, LEADER large-flow fans offer effective gas dilution, dissipation or displacement, and smoke cooling. The Easy 4000 units are available in a lightweight trailer version and a skid version to be attached to any type of vehicle, truck, or trailer. Other options include a 360-degree manual-rotation system, 600- or 1,200-mm elevating platforms, flexible exhaust gas extensions, and blowing ducts. www.LeaderNorthAmerica.com, 704-528-1157


BullEx Shipboard Simulator

BullEx Shipboard Simulator is designed to mimic the conditions firefighters face while fighting fires aboard a boat or ship. The four-story, 132-foot-long ship simulator includes multiple training locations that recreate conditions firefighters would encounter aboard a vessel, including engine room fires, galley (kitchen) fires, oil tanker emergencies, and fires on the ship's deck. The training rooms use a combination of gas-based, class A, and digital fire technology. The FDNY recently christened a new BullEx Shipboard Simulator named "Port Security" at its fire academy. www.bullex.com, 888-428-5539


FLIR Systems PathFindIR II thermal night vision system

FLIR Systems PathFindIR II thermal night vision system uses FLIR's latest nighttime video analytics algorithms to provide automated detection and alerts of pedestrians and animals so drivers can see hazards sooner, react faster, and stay safer on the road at night. PathFindIR II's thermal night vision allows drivers to see pedestrians, cyclists, animals, and other road hazards at night from up to four times farther away than with just the vehicle's headlights. It also adds a nighttime pedestrian detection feature that can be configured to automatically display alarms that alert drivers when the system detects a person nearing or crossing the vehicle's path. www.flir.com, 877-773-3547


Zico QUIC-MOUNT Premixed Gallon Holder and Double Premix Holder

Zico QUIC-MOUNT Premixed Gallon Holder and Double Premix Holder, Model QM-PMH-G and Model QM-PMH-D, respectively, are made with heavy-duty steel and aluminum. The Premixed Gallon Holder secures rectangular cans up to one gallon (4.5 by seven inches), allowing personnel to carry more premix where needed. The Double Premix Holder secures two 32-ounce cans within a single bracket, serving as an alternative to purchasing two separate holders when mounting multiple smaller cans inside the apparatus. They are powder-coated yellow for durability and can protection. Brackets lower the risk of rolling, denting, leaking, and puncturing inside the compartment. The brackets keep cans organized and easy to locate. The brackets mount to nearly any flat surface. Hang them from the compartment wall to save space on the shelf below. www.ziamatic.com, 800-711-FIRE


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Fire Mechanics Section Board

Chair

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Chair

Elliot Courage
North Whatcom Fire & Rescue
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Vice Chair

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Vice Chair

Mike Smith 
Pierce County Fire District #5
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Secretary

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Secretary

Greg Bach
South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue
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Director #1

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #1

Doug Jones
South Kitsap Fire & Rescue
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Director #2

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #2

Paul Spencer 
Fire Fleet Maintenance LLC
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Director #3

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #3

Jim Morris
Mountain View Fire Department
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Director #4

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #4

Arnie Kuchta

Clark County Fire District 6

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Director #6

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #6

Brett Annear
Kitsap County Fire District 18
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Director #5

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #5

Jay Jacks
Camano Island Fire & Rescue
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Legislative Representative

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Legislative Representative

TBD
TBD
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Immediate Past Chair

Posted: Oct 20, 2015

Immediate Past Chair

Brian Fortner
Graham Fire & Rescue

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