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Source capture: The gold standard for keeping toxins out of fire stations

The MagneGrip PRO nozzle reduces diesel exhaust and diesel particulate matter, helping keep your members healthy at the station

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Fact: The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012 reclassified diesel exhaust (DE) from probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A) to carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) based on evidence that exposure is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer.

Fact: Research shows that firefighters are at risk of exposure to the gases and diesel particulate matter (DPM) present in diesel exhaust in fire stations.

Fact: Research shows that prolonged exposure to DE or DPM can increase the risk of cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary and respiratory diseases as well as lung cancer in firefighters

In the decade since DE was reclassified by the WHO, many technology and engineering solutions have been introduced to address these facts. The goal: helping fire departments reduce the risk to their firefighters from DE in the apparatus bay and preventing DE from infiltrating the rest of the fire station. But which of those solutions is the best?

Vehicle exhaust removal systems

A vehicle exhaust removal system (VERS) consists of a collection hose that’s attached to the exhaust pipe on fire apparatus that uses a high-powered fan to draw DE and DPM through the hose for discharge to the outside atmosphere. And when used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, it is the most effective means of ensuring that DE and DPM don’t get into a fire station. Says who?

  • USFA: In the USFA report Safety and Health Considerations for the Design of Fire and Emergency Medical Systems Stations, the authors note, “exhaust source capture is considered the most reliable means to reduce or eliminate exposure of fire station occupants to diesel exhaust emissions.”
  • NFPA: NFPA 1500: Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health, and Wellness Program specifies, “The fire department shall prevent exposure to fire fighters and contamination of living and sleeping areas from exhaust emissions through the use of direct or source capture systems.”
  • International Mechanical Code: The 2021 edition states: “Areas in which stationary motor vehicles are operated shall be provided with source capture system that connects directly to the motor vehicle exhaust systems. Such systems shall be engineered by a registered design professional or shall be factory-built equipment designed and sized for the purpose.”
  • OSHA: According to an OSHA hazard alert, when DE is not properly controlled, it presents several health hazards for firefighters.
  • New research: A recent study out of Vancouver, British Columbia (Gawryluk, Palombo, Curran, Parker, & Carlsten, 2023) found that even brief exposure to diesel exhaust acutely impairs functional brain connectivity in humans.

Less talk, more action

Unfortunately, many fire departments are not yet taking the appropriate action to eliminate the exposure risk for their personnel and reduce their potential liability – liability like the following:

  • Compensation and medical costs for firefighters who develop cancer while on the job because statistics are showing that firefighters are developing cancers, particularly lung cancer, at a rate twice that of the general population.
  • Increased workers’ compensation costs because courts are typically the only place employees can seek claims against employers for work-related injuries, and the burden of proving injury is lower in workers’ compensation cases.

Think it’s not possible? In Culbert v. City of Jersey City, 175 N.J. 286, 291 (2003), the plaintiff was awarded a workers’ compensation benefits ruling that occupational exposure as firefighter for 30 years materially contributed to the development of pulmonary disease (Michalak, 2004).

Unequivocally, source capture systems should be present, operational and used in all fire stations, not just to avoid litigation but, more importantly, to protect your members.

MagneGrip PRO Nozzle

The MagneGrip PRO nozzle eliminates the #1 barrier that inhibits 100% system usage by firefighters: difficulty connecting the extraction hose. The PRO nozzle has a rare-earth magnet assembly – MagneGrip’s patented technology – so that from any approach angle, it’s only necessary to bring the PRO nozzle connection close to the exhaust tailpipe adapter and the magnets do the rest. That’s a huge plus for getting 100% compliance from firefighters in the fire station.

And there’s more that sets the PRO Nozzle apart from other VERS:

  • An exhaust tailpipe adapter that can be mounted flush to vehicle body, with no protrusions.
  • An extraction hose that pulls down to connect to the apparatus for a more effective connection, which keeps the nozzle off the floor when not in use (also reducing wear and tear).
  • A stainless-steel heat shield, along with air flow through the magnet assembly, which separates and protects the magnets from heat and particulates, thereby extending magnet life.
  • Compatibility with different diameter exhaust hoses (4 to 6 inches) to accommodate any system design criteria.
  • A durable 90-degree cast aluminum transition elbow that dissipates heat faster and does not rust like other designs. The transition elbow also provides more room for personnel to maneuver around and between vehicles, making it a real plus for fire stations with tight and shallow spaces.
  • An exhaust tailpipe adapter that ensures maximum ambient air induction to dissipate heat faster and cool the system, which reduces the risk of a burn and extends the life of the system.
  • A small exhaust pipe adapter for greater ground clearance.
  • A positive pressure check valve that adheres to mechanical codes and agency recommendations, ensuring a 100% seal with zero leaks.

The MagneGrip PRO Nozzle works with any of MagneGrip’s four hose systems – Sliding Balancer Track, Straight Suction Rail, Sliding Flexhose Track, and Simple Hose Drop System.

Grant assistance is available

VERS are eligible for funding through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. Need some help getting the funds to purchase the PRO Nozzle for your organization? Contact MagneGrip for help finding grants for vehicle exhaust removal systems.

Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Virginia) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s EFO Program. Beyond his writing for and, Avsec authors the blog Talking “Shop” 4 Fire & EMS and has published his first book, “Successful Transformational Change in a Fire and EMS Department: How a Focused Team Created a Revenue Recovery Program in Six Months – From Scratch.” Connect with Avsec on LinkedIn or via email.