Fire truck exhaust removal: What to know before you buy

There are different systems that fit different station configurations and department budgets; here’s how to know which is right for you

By Austin Bay

The last thing you want your team to be worried about at work is exposure to exhaust emissions from their fire rigs. And there’s good reason for this as multiple organizations have shown that exposure to exhaust fumes is harmful.

If you have to perform maintenance on your fire truck or need to run the engine indoors, then a vehicle exhaust extraction system will help remove the pollutants from the air and keep your team safe.

Exposure to truck exhaust can be dangerous to you and your team’s health for a few reasons. The Environmental Protection Agency classified benzene, an organic compound commonly found in vehicle exhaust, as a human carcinogen.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers are responsible for making sure that employees are not exposed to airborne benzene in excess of 1 part of benzene per million parts of air.

Aside from OSHA, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention also passed regulations that require employers to provide proper ventilation for workers. Even the latest report from the World Health Organization underlines the importance of ventilation systems that remove carcinogens from the air.

With evidence that exposure to carcinogens from diesel exhaust is correlated to higher rates of lung cancer, it’s more important than ever for fire stations to prioritize proper ventilation systems.  

There are two main types of vehicle exhaust extraction systems: underground and overhead.

Underground systems

There is no one system that is better than the other, rather the one you choose depends on the size and layout of your space, the number of trucks in your fleet and a few other factors.

Often constructed from fiberglass or PVC, underground ventilation systems are one efficient way to remove exhaust from indoor spaces. All underground ventilation systems must be properly bedded to prevent against settlement and to comply with national code.

When deciding if an underground system is right for your fire station, it’s important to understand how they work. In this type of system, you’ll need to install floor fixtures and underground ducts to move the exhaust outside.

There are two basic options in this category: the disappearing and nondisappearing systems.

In an underground disappearing system, the tubing that connects to the vehicle is stored within the floor when not in use. The benefit is that it takes up less storage space and the hose is protected from damage as it’s stored underground.

If you don’t mind resting your hose or tubing along the wall and want to cut back on costs, then a nondisappearing system might be best for your fire station.

In this system, an elbow is attached to flexible tubing, which it simply plugs into when not in use. It’s kind of like a dentist tool that sits on a stand.

In both types of underground ventilation systems, you’ll need to install special tubing and flooring. For large fire stations with multiple fleet members and larger budgets, this is a great option. 

Overhead systems

The other popular kind of exhaust ventilation system is overhead. Overhead systems also come in two disappearing and nondisappearing types.

With three different types of nondisappearing styles and one type of disappearing, these are often the most popular choice due to their flexibility and affordability.

If you want your tubing to disappear when your team is done working with their truck, then the disappearing flexible system might be the way to go. Similar to disappearing underground systems, this protects the tubing when it’s not in use so you don’t have to worry about it getting snagged on the wall.

The first of three nondisappearing styles has tubing that hangs down from the ducts to move harmful exhaust outside. If you don’t anticipate needing to move tubing, then this system can work in your fire station.

The next nondisappearing system is useful for fire stations with multiple trucks and small budgets. It uses a reel to draw the hoses up and out of the service area. This keeps the hoses in better condition as they’re pulled up and away from moving vehicles and people when not in use.

The final option is arguably the most affordable one. This wall box system with hose attachments works well for small fleets, where a single truck can be attached to a ventilation box.

Before deciding which ventilation system works best for your fire station, make sure that you consider the amount of space that you have, the size of your fleet and your budget.

You can make trade-offs between each type of system to find the one that will work best for you and your team.

About the author
Austin has spent many years close to and is passionate about car and truck maintenance. He contributes regularly to FumeAVent and stays up to date on the latest safety recommendations in the truck and diesel industry.

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