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Truck Checks: Batteries for the bewildered

By Don Henry

Of all the devices on fire apparatus the batteries and their systems have the most amount of myth surrounding them then any other system on the truck. Batteries have two tasks, to provide a very large amount of current to start the engine and to act as an electrical sponge to stabilize and absorb voltage spikes. In fact, their correct name is a lead-acid storage battery.


Myth number one: Batteries make electricity.
False. Because of a chemical reaction they cause electrons to flow. The easiest way is to look at a battery is like your bank account. Your bank account generally does not make money; it only stores it (at least mine does). If you don't put money in your account you can't get it out. Batteries are very similar; if the alternator does not put the energy in, you don't get it out when you go to start the engine.

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