The following is paid content sponsored by MagneGrip
The Dyersburg Fire Department in Tennessee is a full-paid agency with 50 sworn firefighters and three stations, providing EMS/Rescue coverage as well as primary fire response to a population of approximately 15,000 residents, with a 15.1 square mile service area which also encompasses part of an interstate, a regional airport, and a hospital. It is additionally an ISO Class 3 agency.
As with many agencies across the country, Captain Rusty Hilliard says Dyersburg’s stations share common space between the apparatus bays and equipment storage. While it’s true that having both so close together could arguably make for a quicker response, it often comes down to a matter of limited room within the station house, especially for older stations built for much smaller vehicles than those used in modern firefighting.
One side effect of this arrangement, however, is the fact that diesel engines tend to produce not only a lot of fumes, but also the phenomenon known as “diesel dust,” a black particulate residue composed mainly of carbon that seems to settle and accumulate on anything it touches.
Capt. Hilliard says that for his department, that meant that sooty layers regularly accumulated on walls, bunker gear, SCBA equipment, and anything else in close proximity to the apparatus bays — including making its way, along with engine fumes, into crew living quarters nearby.
This problem was exacerbated by the constant egress and return of apparatus to and from calls, meaning that the engines were spending a fair amount of time running while within the bays’ relatively closed environment (even with the doors open, ventilation was not optimal to exhaust the fumes).
In addition to the health concerns caused by having carbon dust and diesel fumes flying through the air at a given moment, these two problems were also causing the agency to have to spend a lot of time and money working on keeping their equipment clean and in working order.
The final straw, however, came when the agency switched to a smoking-free environment in the quarters. Very shortly after cleaning the walls of the living quarters thoroughly, the crews noticed a not-insignificant buildup of diesel dust on the walls. Capt. Hilliard says this was the moment when the department knew it had to remedy the problem.
After looking through many of the options available on the market for exhaust handling and filtration, Dyersburg settled on the MagneGrip/AirHAWK combination system from MagneGrip, an ISO 9001:2008 Certified company. The system combines a NFPA 1500-compliant vehicle exhaust system (MagneGrip) with a self-sealing nozzle, and a 4-stage filtration system (AirHAWK). The AirHAWK units are ETL/UL Certified and utilize advanced filtration such as photo-catalytic oxidation, which was developed by the Department of Defense to destroy toxic organic compounds.
Since the MagneGrip and AirHAWK have many different models and configurations (for example, in how the exhaust hoses are mounted), MagneGrip came out on-site to Capt. Hilliard to determine which system was the best fit for each of their three stations, and then custom-designed the components to match the specific needs of each apparatus.
Almost instantly, Capt. Hilliard says, the crews noticed that the smell of the exhaust was completely gone throughout the station. Perhaps similar to going from a crowded city with a lot of cars to the countryside with far fewer, sometimes those who live with pollution don’t realize how much there is until it’s no longer present.
Maintenance time on cleaning the equipment, bays, and living quarters has drastically decreased due to the removal of the diesel dust from the ambient air, and the crews have reported much better conditions in the quarters as well.
In today’s era of reduced budgets, Hilliard notes, departments have to be careful what they invest in. He credits Chief Robert Veal, Jr. with having the foresight to realize that purchasing the MagneGrip/AirHAWK system would actually help reduce equipment costs in the long run including maintenance and replacement costs for items contaminated by the exhaust output.
More importantly, however, he realizes that the health, welfare, and job performance of firefighters depends on their ability to remain physically fit and ready, with fully functioning equipment. In these respects, Capt. Hilliard says, the MagneGrip/AirHAWK system has performed exceptionally.
Greg Bogosian is the Special Projects Manager for the Praetorian Group, Inc. and is an 11-year field EMT-Basic with significant 911 system experience in urban and suburban patient populations.