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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: Mar 18, 2019

Rurally Speaking—MVAs: To Stretch or not to Stretch

By Carl J. Haddon

When you arrive at the scene of an MVA, is it your department’s SOP to stretch and charge a line? Perhaps a better question would be, do you ever deploy and charge a line at the scene of an accident? Beyond the matter of departmental SOPs, why or why wouldn’t you use this tactic?

This is not by any means a “rural” set of questions or issue. I’ve recently asked fellow firefighters/officers this same set of questions from departments of all shapes, sizes, and locations. The most common answer I’ve received is: “It’s our SOP, we should, but most often we don’t.”

I can certainly see an argument for both sides. Simple intersection T-bone, non injury, “nothing burger,” why stretch? Rurally speaking, a vehicle dodging an elk on a two-lane highway, swerves, overcorrects and rolls the vehicle. If there are no obvious signs of fire and no fuel leakage, why would I want to deploy a line and block the entire highway if I don’t have to? Allow me to add a new wrinkle to your thought process.

Vehicles have changed dramatically. The addition of Class D (combustible) metals and Lithium Ion batteries will (or should) make you rethink whether or not to stretch that line at the site of a crash. If for no other reason, you might want to consider doing it for your crew’s personal safety.

A typical highway vehicle that is five to 10 years old on the road today contains an average of 35 pounds of combustible metal (mostly magnesium). By this time next year, in 2020, the average vehicle sold around the country/world will contain an average of 300 pounds of various combustible metals. By the way, have you had the unforgettable experience of trying to extinguish 300 pounds of burning, white hot metal that explodes when you hit it with water? Granted, the number of vehicles that spontaneously burst into a full blown Class D fire is pretty nonexistent. However, there is a new-ish fuse, or accelerant, for this mass of combustible metals found in today’s new hybrid and electric vehicles. It is known as the Lithium Ion battery.

Lithium Ion batteries catch fire because of a process called “thermal runaway.” Thermal runaway is usually (but not exclusively) caused by one of two things: a malfunction of the charging system or physical damage (i.e. accidents). I won’t bore you with a lot of the science, however it is important to know where these batteries are located and how they burn. My personal/professional experiences with burning Lithium Ion batteries is that they sound like a small jet engine and resemble a small erupting volcano. Lithium Ion batteries have many cells. When they ignite, they spew molten copper and aluminum (great for turnout gear); they look like a blow torch; they off gas hydrogen, which makes for secondary flash fires; and the smoke produced (preignition through overhaul) by burning Lithium Ion batteries is wicked toxic.

Lithium Ion batteries are generally located beneath the floor in the rear seat area, or in older models they are “L” shaped, and basically conform to the shape of the back seat. Many hybrids will have a small gas tank located directly behind the vertical portion of the battery in the trunk area (just to make the firefight easier). European testing on these vehicle-sized Lithium Ion batteries shows that (if you can get to them) it takes an average of 3,000 gallons of water to be able to knock one of these batteries (to reduce the auto ignition temperature). It is not uncommon for it to take 45 minutes to fight one of these car fires with the Lithium Ion battery going off. Additionally, it is also not uncommon to have reignition some 48 hours later because of ongoing thermal runaway.

If trying to get to a burning Lithiu

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Posted: Mar 15, 2019

UL FSRI Seeks Acquired Structures for Research Burns

Beavercreek live burn

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) is in search of acquired structures to conduct research burns in as part of the 2015 Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Grant project the “Study of Coordinated Fire Attack Utilizing Acquired Structures.” UL FSRI recently partnered with the Beavercreek Township (OH) Fire Department (above) to conduct experiments in four single-family homes and are still in need of 2 strip malls and 3 garden apartment buildings.

“Our department has already improved our methods by learning from the studies of UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. To have UL FSRI come to our township to continue that research is a big honor for Beavercreek Township Fire Department,” said David Young, Battalion Chief, Beavercreek Township Fire Department. “Having the chance to be part of improving firefighter safety through research is an incredible opportunity.”

“Firefighter health and safety is primary to the work that we do. We feel that if firefighters are as smart as they can possibly be, they will be safe, they will be effective, there will be less Line-of-Duty-Deaths, less injuries, and more lives saved around the world,” said Steve Kerber, Director, UL FSRI.

What UL FSRI is looking for:

Garden Style Apartments (Three Buildings)

An apartment building of a minimum of three (3) stories in height, with apartments accessed via a common stairway; typically, the stairway is enclosed. A minimum of twelve (12) units in at at least three (3) buildings, preferably more.

Strip Mall (Two Buildings)

A single story commercial building with multiple storefronts. Looking for a minimum of two (2) buildings with at least four (4) units per building for a total of eight (8) units.

What’s in it for your department?

Fire Departments both in the U.S. and internationally are looking to this project to answer some important tactical questions about the coordination of ventilation and suppression. The departments that help support the project will gain national and international recognition as a leader in the search for the most effective tactical operations based on science. Members of the department will be able to witness first-hand the research burns, furthering their knowledge in fire behavior at the same time interacting with the researchers one-on-one. This will provide invaluable training/experience to the department’s leaders and members, helping them understand why things happen, and allowing them to make more effective choices on the fire ground. We understand this may come with some financial burden and although we may not be able to reimburse all costs, UL FSRI has included money, in the project budget, to help with these costs.

How to participate?

Fill out this google form with your department contact and structure type.

To learn more, visit ULFirefighterSafety.org.

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FSI, UL FSRI Release Free Online Training Program on Firefighter Cardiovascular, Chemical Exposure Risks

Today's Evolving Fire Attack

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Posted: Mar 14, 2019

Indianapolis Fire Apparatus Destroyed in Crash

 
 
 

The fire truck was on its way to help a person with difficulty breathing when it was struck by an on-coming Chrysler 300 near East 38th Street and Butler Avenue about 11:40 p.m., Indianapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief Rita Reith said.  

The fire truck's light and sirens were activated. The driver of the eastbound Chrysler crossed the center lane and collided with the westbound truck, Reith said.

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Posted: Mar 14, 2019

Man Charged with Attempting to Steal Tazewell (TN) Fire Apparatus

 
 

Police spotted Rodriguez while investigating a report of a suspicious person attempting to break into vehicles near the Tazewell/New Tazewell Fire Department's station house early Sunday.  

The responding officer noticed one of the fire hall's bay doors open, and the ladder truck idling inside with its lights activated. Rodriguez was in the driver's seat, the release states.

The suspect also stole a fuel card from the fire department, according to the release.

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Upcoming Events

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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