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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: Oct 2, 2013

Modern Diesel Fuel

By Christian P. Koop

Ever wonder about the quality of the diesel fuel you are putting into your emergency response vehicle's (ERV) fuel tank? If not, you should be. The quality and ingredients used to formulate modern diesel fuel and how it is stored and transported can adversely affect a fuel delivery system's life, emissions, and even fuel economy. The main purpose of this article is to give a brief history of diesel fuel, some of its main components, their purpose, and some of the most important issues surrounding diesel fuel today. Additionally, I want to make those unfamiliar with diesel aware of what they can do to test the diesel fuel they are using in their ERVs and what they can do to improve it. It may not be up to the standards diesel engine manufacturers require for their engines.

History

Before discussing diesel fuel, I need to give credit to the inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel. Diesel was a German refrigeration engineer born in Paris, France, in 1858. He received a patent for his invention in 1892. Interestingly, his first fuel of choice for his compression ignition engine was coal dust. However, he had problems injecting the coal dust into the cylinder. After an explosion destroyed his first engine, he began testing the use of vegetable oils as another fuel source. Eventually, he was able to successfully use peanut oil; however, he continued to experiment with other possible fuel sources. Finally, he found what eventually would be known as diesel fuel, a stable byproduct of the petroleum (crude oil) refinement or distillation process. Other fuels derived from petroleum through this process include bunker oil (fuel for large ships), gasoline (petrol), jet fuel (kerosene, paraffin), mineral spirits, and heating oil (very similar to diesel).

Diesel fuel is also referred to as fuel oil and has a wide boiling point range between 320°F and 690°F. Keep in mind that petroleum contains a large number of hydrocarbons and other components that are used to manufacture many commercial products-not just fuels. Diesel died in 1913 at the relatively young age of 55. However, by this time, his engine had been granted many patents. When his main patent expired in 1907, other companies such as Mercedes Benz and Peugeot began developing their own engines. By 1936, Mercedes showed the first nonexperimental diesel-engine-powered passenger car at the Berlin Fair.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actually began regulating emission standards for on-highway and transit compression ignition engines in 1974. Over the years, it gradually tightened the standards on hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM) or soot, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. However, it was not until 1985 that a restriction on NOx was issued, and it began limiting PM for the first time in 1988. This is why the heavy duty diesel engine manufacturers began producing electronic controls for their fuel injection systems in the mid 1980s. More precise control over timing and fuel injection means better combustion, which equates to less PM and cleaner air. This cleaned up the diesel engine emissions considerably, but stricter (EPA) regulations to lower PM and to reduce NOx emissions even further were on the horizon.

In 1993, the EPA issued a new standard for diesel fuel, reducing the sulfur content to 500 parts per million (ppm), named low-sulfur diesel (LSD). In 1997, the EPA issued a new standard for the 2004 model year with major changes to reduce NOx and PM even further for model years 2007 and 2010. These changes would require reformulating diesel fuel to reduce the sulfur content even further. Beginning in 2006, it dropped the sulfur content even lower to 15 ppm and called it ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD).

Sulfur in diesel is linked to acid rain, causes health problems, and can also lead to acid formation inside the engine. There

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Posted: Oct 2, 2013

Advances in Patient Transportation: Moving Beyond "Get In and Hold On"

By Steve Rowland,
OEM Sales Manager,
Ferno-Washington, Inc.

It is safe to say the latest generation of first responders grew up with family cars equipped with "state-of-the-art" safety features like seat belts with reminder "chimes," air bags, automatic headlights, vehicle event recorders, and intelligent "multiplexed" electrical systems. It is also safe to assume that these systems were developed and are continually refined by a well-established passenger automotive safety ecosystem driven by regulating authorities. From this, one would think a fair conclusion is that the same has existed in ambulance design for all those years as well. That is often not the case. Fortunately, a transformation is solidly underway.

Much has been written, spoken, blogged, tweeted, and otherwise communicated about the recent involvement of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the realm of developing NFPA 1917, Standard for Automotive Ambulances. The intent of this article is not to take one side or the other regarding questions concerning authority, expertise, or any other division point. No matter which camp you are in, it is undeniable that the exciting, beneficial results this national discussion has provided to the industry-in whatever final form they take-will make ambulances safer for both the patient and the emergency care provider.

Medic Ergonomics

"Seat belts save lives." We know this mantra. We have watched the news reporter interview the emergency medical service (EMS) spokesperson, with a mangled vehicle in the background, remark, " ... and we would like to take this time to remind everyone to wear their seat belts, because the driver of this car was able to walk away." But the data about care providers in the backs of ambulances show we don't often practice what we preach.

"I can't do my job buckled in," states a medic. "It's only a short ride to the hospital." "But, we are going in nonemergency." Excuses abound. What about a solution?

Several years ago, Las Vegas (NV) Fire and Rescue (LVF&R) undertook a focused project to make its ambulances safer for the paramedics, as well as improve patient medical outcome. Perhaps one of its greatest advancements was a concerted effort to cut the weathered ties to tradition and reexamine how ambulance interior design needed changing to solve the problem.

"If the paramedics said they could not stay buckled in their seat during the patient transport, we analyzed why," says Tim Orenic, EMS coordinator for LVF&R. "If the seat was in the wrong place, we moved it. If the medicines or medical devices were out of reach, we brought them in closer. If different emergencies called for different treatment positions, we added additional belted seating spaces. But if a medic should not sit in a particular location, we removed the possibility of sitting there." Since the commissioning of these "new-generation" ambulances, it has been the standard operating procedure of the LVF&R to be buckled at all times in the rear of an ambulance. Compliance is not an option, but it is not a problem either. "The medics know they need to buckle up, and they do," says Orenic. "It's a habit now, and it works."

Patient Restraint Systems

In the modern era of American EMS patient transportation, stretchers have largely remained unchanged, along with the way patients are secured onto stretcher and how the stretchers are secured in ambulances. Some may think the industry has not kept up with the available science. But until recently, the science wasn't where it needed to be.

"For the last several years, an extensive, collaborative effort has been underway between federal agencies, industry groups, manufacturers, and other interested parties to utilize a sc

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Posted: Oct 2, 2013

Fire Industry Suppliers Support Recruitment Project

Kasha Stoll

Fire runs through Robbie Smith's veins, fueling him with purpose and passion. It gave the child a goal and the man a mission. "I absolutely love firefighting," says Smith, who served for 23 years as a firefighter at stations in Missouri. "I want to get kids excited and bring them into the fire department at an early age. I want them to know that firefighting is an amazing career."

And what better way to excite than with a working, kid-sized pumper with a customized grille, roll-up doors, aluminum ladder, hose and compartment covers, reflective chevrons, engine hand throttle, working head and tail lights, pressure gauges, trim ring, a tank level monitor display, and a fire truck seat?

Several companies contributed to Smith's project. Following is a list of companies and the
equipment they provided for the miniature fire apparatus.

The Allure

"When you hear the clang of the bell and whining of the siren, when you see the fire engines go by, it stirs up feelings," says Ken Menke, president of PowerArc Warning Lights. PowerArc was one of several companies that donated equipment for the project (see sidebar). "Every firefighter will tell you that they got excited by fire trucks when they were little," Menke says. "It's at the heart of all children."

To reach those hearts, Smith spent more than 10 years and 3,500 hours designing and developing a miniature fire engine that accurately represents the industry. He wanted to honor the men and women who are willing to risk their lives in service to others. "We lost a brother on an early morning grass fire," he says, referring to his time in the fire service. "This [fire engine] is in memory of our fallen brothers and sisters. Everywhere I travel and display the truck it reminds me of the sacrifices made."

Smith plans to display the nearly completed minipumper at trade shows, parades, county fairs, and anywhere kids and future firefighters can be found. He introduced the truck at the 2013 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in R⋅O⋅M Corporation's booth in April. One month later, Smith showed the truck in Grovespring, Missouri, at the 10-99 Products "Cruise-in," a fire apparatus and tow truck display for kids.

He says the response so far has been "overwhelming in such a great way," with many long-time firefighters calling it amazing.

golf cart/fire engine
(1) Robbie Smith fabricated the chassis by hand. He stored the golf cart/fire
engine in his garage during the 10-year project. (Photos courtesy of R⋅O⋅M
Corporation.)

The Dream

The idea came to Smith in 2001 during his time off from the station. He had what he calls a spontaneous idea to build a fire truck out of a golf cart and display it in parades and public events. He sat down, drew a design, and scaled it to just under half size.

Then he called James Holloway, owner of South Central Golf in West Plains, Missouri. Holloway appreciated Smith's passion and wanted to help. He donated a Cusheman golf cart and the entire drive train. Then he watched in amazement as Smith hand-crafted the chassis. "Every piece of that chassis was fabricated," James says. "There were no molds or kits. Everything was cut out, fitted, and welded by hand. The fabrication was unreal."

As Smith's dream started to take shape, he began calling companies that provide equipment for fire apparatus

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Posted: Oct 2, 2013

Evaluating Technology

By Richard Marinucci

My brother is the only person I know who does not own a cell phone. He says he doesn't want one and doesn't need one. Even though most people cite the convenience of having a cell phone, my brother looks at it as an inconvenience. He does not want to be tied to a phone or be interrupted when he is doing something else. If you want to talk to him, call his house and leave a message and he will get back to you when it is convenient. His lifestyle does not seem to be adversely affected by his decision.

Conversely, my adult children all have the latest cell phones and do not have land lines. They like the instant communications with the phone calls, texts, and e-mails. They also know if the phone rings, it is for them. They are connected 24/7 and their phones take precedence-even over in-person communications. They will interrupt a conversation with me to answer their phone or a text. Some may consider this rude, like me, but they think it is normal.

Whether or not one has a cell phone is his own personal choice, and I am not here to make any value judgments. It seems that some can't live without their phones and others won't live with them. In some ways, this is what all technology is about. Regarding fire departments, there are some that are always on the leading edge, impatient to a fault to adopt the latest and greatest device that promises to make the job easier, faster, and safer. Others continue with what has always seemed to work, either consciously making that decision or being prohibited from doing so because of budgetary issues.

Faster than Ever

There is no doubt that technological changes occur at a faster pace than ever before. As such, fire departments are inundated with information on new products that promise to make the job easier, faster, safer, and generally better. They also promise to save time. Now if they are supposed to save time, how come those who use the newer products are busier than ever? The point here is that not all new technological developments are necessarily applicable to everyone. Keeping up with the Joneses is not a reason to embrace technology. It must be evaluated based on the entire package of the benefits and disadvantages including the cost, time savings, ease of use, practicality, financial benefits, required training, and acceptance by those who will be using it.

During my career, I have met with salespeople who had new products that were essential to what I was doing many times. They always paint a rosy picture designed to tempt me. More often than not, there were some flaws with the products, although these flaws may not have affected the benefits they offered. Like all good salespeople, they try to get an "on-the-spot" decision. Rarely do I give one, either because of my instincts or the fact that what they are offering requires additional approval.

Get Help

When looking at "new and improved," consider some of the things that should help you make a decision. First and foremost, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I can recall discussions where I reached a point of disbelief and could not contain myself when dealing with an individual. This may not always be the best approach, but it was sometimes helpful at reducing return visits!

Beyond your instincts, use your network-those who have more knowledge and understanding of particular products and those who use the product. For example there are many computer advances. Some have proven to be beneficial to many. Others have been added "fluff," either not delivering what was promised or offering useless enhancements. If you have access to IT personnel, that is great, and these people are good to know. They spend all of their time learning more about these types of technological advances. They also are usually not fire service personnel. As such, they view the world differently

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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

Justin Claibourn
Central Pierce Fire & Rescue 
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Director #1

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #1

Loren Angiono 
City of Lynnwood
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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

Larry Elliott
Olympia Fire Department
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Director #4

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #4

Doug Jones
City of Redmond
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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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