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When the bricks-and-mortar phase of building a fire station has been completed, many items still must go into it. Beds, recliners, garage doors, engine exhaust systems, alert systems and turnout gear storage systems are just a few of the items needed to outfit a fire station.
Firehouse® Magazine interviewed providers of fire station equipment and fixtures about their recommendations on what is needed to get a new emergency response building up and running.
Clearing the air
One of the most dangerous on-the-job hazards facing emergency responders today is engine exhaust emissions. It is no wonder that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that new fire stations have complete exhaust systems to remove fumes and particulates from buildings, according to John Koris, the sales manager for Air Vacuum Corp. AirVac is a manufacturer of engine exhaust removal systems headquartered in Dover, NH.
“Diesel exhaust contains nitrogen dioxide, VOCs [volatile organic compounds], benzene and known carcinogens,” Koris said. “Those are things you don’t want in your fire station.” He said AirVac is a system that filters the air and is completely automatic with no hose connections to be made. It also operates automatically as vehicles enter and exit the station.
“Ninety-nine percent of emergency vehicles today use diesel engines,” Koris said. “The World Health Organization has said diesel exhaust is a carcinogen, not just a suspected carcinogen so, you have get it out of the station.”
Koris said AirVac differs from other products in that it circulates and filters all the air in the station and does not require any hose connections. The company is the only one of its kind dedicated to fire and EMS stations, according to Koris.
Mike Johnson, vice president of sales for Cincinnati, OH-based MagneGrip, said there are more reasons to have exhaust removal systems than to just comply with NFPA recommendations. Magne-Grip offers a direct-capture system with hoses that attach to the trucks and ceiling-mounted filtration units.
“It’s a matter of health and safety for the firefighters who are inside the station all the time,” Johnson said. “They go out and fight fires and breathe in all kinds of bad stuff, so they shouldn’t have to come back into the station and breathe bad air there too.”
When a station is being built is the time for fire departments to consider exhaust removal systems, Johnson said. “It’s too difficult to go back to the community and ask for more money to install them after the fact,” he said.
Johnson said MagneGrip has been making direct-capture exhaust removal systems for about 18 years with lines that grip on the apparatus exhaust to remove vehicle emissions at the source. About five years ago, the company acquired a line of ceiling-mounted systems to give fire departments complete coverage. That line is called AirHAWK air purification systems. “We sell a lot of dual systems with both the hoses and the ceiling-mounted systems,” Johnson said. “It gives departments complete protection.”
The hose system captures emissions at the source and exhausts them from the building while the ceiling-mounted systems pick up any remaining contaminants left in the building, Johnson said. Any leftover soot and gases from the vehicles and testing of small engines, like portable pumps and chain saws, is automatically picked up by the ceiling-mounted filtration system, Johnson said. Additionally, any off-gassing from turnout gear, hose or other equipment that has been contaminated at the scene of a fire is picked up by the filtration system, he said.
Too often, Johnson said, he has seen fire departments scratch exhaust removal and filtration systems from their station designs. He once had a department that had to cut its budget for a new station and three items were on the block – granite kitchen countertops, an automatic ice-melting system for the roof and an exhaust-removal system. The department took out the exhaust-removal system, which Johnson said was a mistake. “Firefighters are exposed to all kinds of toxins and gases on the job,” Johnson said. “They shouldn’t have to put up with it in their stations too.”