1. #1
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    Default Fill station advice

    We should be getting an AFG grant for a complete fill station very soon and im asking for advice. We currently have nothing. Our scbas are 4500 psi 45 mon bottles with an hour RIT pack. We hae a total of 8 packs and 8 spare bottles. Space in a concern and I have been looking at a mini unicus from bauer just for that reason. Im new to selecting a unit and would like so help. We will need a single phase unit and I would like a complete contained double bottle fill cabinet with a fill panel. Mainly im confused on what brand how many cascade bottles and what size compressor.
    thanks

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    You're going to get a lot of opinions I'm sure, but I'll share with you mine. My career department has a LOT more bottles to fill (4500 psi, 45- and 60-minute) and we utilize two different systems at two different stations.

    The first one is a 4500 psi system with 8 bottles and a single-bottle station. I hate filling off this thing. You can only fill about three or four bottles before you have to start using another cascade bottle to get it above 4000-4200 psi. On this particular one, we only open one bottle at a time to fill off of. You start on the one closest to the fill station and move left. Once you equalize the SCBA bottle and cascade bottle, you shut off that cascade bottle and move to the next until you get the pressure where you want it.

    The other is a four-bottle cascade, 6,000 psi, with a two-bottle fill station. This is the type of system I'd go with if I were you. The 6,000 psi bottles allow a lot more fills before you have to recharge the system. On this one we leave all four bottles open, mainly because they're behind the compressor and fill station and opening one at a time isn't an option. But, it's a moot point with the amount of air available. We can fill a lot of bottles with this thing before we start getting to the point we're down to 4,000 psi and need to recharge the system.

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    yea with the first system you are cascading but with a 4500 psi system that isnt really desigened to fill 4500 psi scba. The second system you are basically bulk filling with a hi pressure system. If you did a true cascade off that 6000 psi system you would till a LOT of bottles! If you had a fill panel you wouldnt have to turn each bottle on and off you could do it from the panel....reason i definately want a fill panel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by centralfire View Post
    yea with the first system you are cascading but with a 4500 psi system that isnt really desigened to fill 4500 psi scba. The second system you are basically bulk filling with a hi pressure system. If you did a true cascade off that 6000 psi system you would till a LOT of bottles! If you had a fill panel you wouldnt have to turn each bottle on and off you could do it from the panel....reason i definately want a fill panel.
    You made me think of our other system, which is on our rescue truck. It's a lot like that, as it's got controls for four different banks. Each "bank" is two 6,000 psi bottles (8 total bottles). That thing will fill bottles all day!

    I hate to think of how many bottles we've filled on a single fire, but you can imagine on a 12-hour fire. Granted, not the entire 12 hours was spent on air, but there was a lot of time that was. I've had fires when I was assigned to it that I filled no less than 30 bottles without a emptying it.

    One thing to look at while your buying is if you're going to need a hose to fill mobile cascades for you or your neighbors. Make sure you get one long enough to do the job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by centralfire View Post
    We should be getting an AFG grant for a complete fill station very soon and im asking for advice. We currently have nothing. Our scbas are 4500 psi 45 mon bottles with an hour RIT pack. We hae a total of 8 packs and 8 spare bottles. Space in a concern and I have been looking at a mini unicus from bauer just for that reason. Im new to selecting a unit and would like so help. We will need a single phase unit and I would like a complete contained double bottle fill cabinet with a fill panel. Mainly im confused on what brand how many cascade bottles and what size compressor.
    thanks
    With our 2007 AFG we purchased a really nice Scott system. The station has a single phase compressor filling a 4 bottle station (I wish I would have went with 8 bottles 2 per bank). The fill containment station fills 2 bottles and has a nice fill control panel above it. The grant also paid for a mobile 4 bottle system with 4 bottle cascade.

    We use scott airpacks so I felt if I trust there airpacks I will go with there compressor system also. So far I haven't been unhappy with it yet.

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    I have a 5000psi bottle cascade with a Scott Simpleair compressor and dual bottle fill station. We received a grant three years ago for this and 14 new SCBA. I can fill about 6 4500 45min bottles before our I kick on the compressor. Its a nice system and its in a TIGHT spot. If you want, I can take pics to show you.
    Blandford Fire Department
    93 Main Street
    Blandford, Ma 01008

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    You definatly want a 6000 psi cascade system. If you can, buy asme cylinders, they don't have to be hydro'd as often . DOT cylinders are 5 year hydro asme 15 yr.
    You will also want a multi bottle fill/ frag chamber as filling one bottle at a time is a slow & tedious process.
    We have an 8 bottle 6000 psi system with a 3 chamber fill station that will do SCBA or scuba bottles which if you work with a dive team makes it very helpful. Our cascade is truck mounted on our rescue and has a fill control panel so you can use one bottle at a time to save air. You work of the first bottle until it get too low then switch to the next one in the bank. We can fill well over 100 bottles before needing to take the truck back to the station to hook it to the compressor for refill. that takes about 30 minutes . The compressor is in the back of the stn with a high pressure hose reel to connect to the truck.

    We went with MAKO when we got our AFG in 2003 due to their being a local[40 miles away] dealer/ service center. They come out to the stn twice a year for maintenance checks and to take air samples for certification. We've had no issues or repairs needed other than changing out the filter cartridges annually.

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    I've got a question for you guys that are running compressor/refill units. What are you paying for annual maintenance costs? Air testing, filter/oil changes, things like that.

    I'm kicking around trying for a mobile unit again this year, but I'm not sure I can get the board onboard unless it's affordable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    I've got a question for you guys that are running compressor/refill units. What are you paying for annual maintenance costs? Air testing, filter/oil changes, things like that.

    I'm kicking around trying for a mobile unit again this year, but I'm not sure I can get the board onboard unless it's affordable.
    I'm pretty sure our maintenance contract runs around $425.00 per year. That includes twice a year service and air sample testing certification. They take an air sample and send it out to an outside lab for testing/certification . They change the oil and air/contaminate filters annually. The service tech says we could go longer if we wanted to save money , but we figure it's cheap insurance to guarantee our air supply quality.

    We don't put a lot of hours on the unit so increased usage will increase the service costs. Last time I looked our 6 yr old unit has 185 hours run time on it.

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    We have a 6000 psi compressor turned down to 4500 psi for our 4 bottle cascade system connected to a single cylinder enclosed fill station. With the 6000 psi compressor we will be able to expand to 6000 cascade cylinders in the future and have the ability now to fill mobile systems with 6000 psi cylinders. If possible go with a 4 stage or larger to reduce the risk of slamming air into them. The slower and cooler the better. Safety First

    We also plumbed a bypass extension hose from our cascade to extend outside our station to fill the counties emergency management trailers cascade system and nearby departments cascade bottles.

    Before we got AFG grants to complete this project we would have to load cascade cylinders up and spend half a day refilling at a department with a big enough compressor.Was a major pain in the butt let alone a safety issue.

    You'll want to own your cascade cylinders as islandfire mentioned.We just went thru a US DOT cylinder inspection and I asked about our cascade bottles. As long as they remain full they do not need to be hydro tested,but is wise to do them every 15 years.
    If your SCBA cylinders are made of 6061 alloy(aluminum) they need hydro tested only every 5 years. If your vendor tells you they need eddy tested found a new vendor as it is not required on these cylinders.
    Older SCBA cylinders made of 6051 alloy (aluminum) are recommended to be tested every 2 years by the manufacturer due to sustained load cracking ("SLC") and the US DOT states 5 years and they will require a Eddy current tested as well. FYI

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    I've got a question for you guys that are running compressor/refill units. What are you paying for annual maintenance costs? Air testing, filter/oil changes, things like that.

    I'm kicking around trying for a mobile unit again this year, but I'm not sure I can get the board onboard unless it's affordable.
    Catch... We pay out around $500 a year.

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    We are paying $1100 / year for the yearly service that includes the quarterly air samples. We also change the oil and filter out every six months ourselves. The filter is right at $150. and the gal. of oil is not cheap. That is on top of the yearly service. We were the only place that the Vol. depts could fill the tanks but a lot of smaller dept's around us are getting compressors & fill stations now with the AFG grants. One dept. close to us got an $36,000 unit from AFG and they only had 5 scba's. That is good for us but can they afford to keep it up. As you see the service is costly. Looking at some of your cost I need to do a little shopping around on my service. Oh and doesn't the 6000psi ASME cylinders never has to be hydro tested? Am I wrong on that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfd701 View Post
    We are paying $1100 /yr. As you see the service is costly. Looking at some of your cost I need to do a little shopping around on my service. Oh and doesn't the 6000psi ASME cylinders never has to be hydro tested? Am I wrong on that?
    I have seen a wide range on annual service contract prices and a lot depends on the vendor. Some brands you pay a premium for the nameplate, kind of like fire trucks.

    By law the ASME cylinders don't but our tech told us that since they are mounted on a vehicle subject to vibration & bumping down the road , it would be a good idea at 15 years to have them hydro'd. It would take about 4 hours to remove the 8 bottles from their horizontal racks & replace them after testing. They sit across the drive axel in our rescue truck with access from both sides after removing access panels. The price difference between DOT and ASME cylinders was about 100.00 each, 5 yr hydro versus 15 yr hydro.

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    So are they any brands to stay away from or any to really look at closer cause they are just great? Im thinking a single phase 7.5 HP unit with 3 storage bottles all in 6000psi with a 2 bottle containment station and a cascade panel...maybe upgrade to ASME cylinders and air purification if possible and add a high pressure reel on the side to fill a future mobile unit. Also need to add the SCUBA set up for the dive teams...oh and my dive tank! :-) Isnt dive air held to a higher purification?

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    You need grade E for your dive tanks. Yes it takes a higher quality from your samples. Not sure but i think every three months on your sampling. That is what we do on samples. We fill a lot of scuba tanks for people since we are on a 750 mile shoreline lake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by centralfire View Post
    So are they any brands to stay away from or any to really look at closer cause they are just great? Im thinking a single phase 7.5 HP unit with 3 storage bottles all in 6000psi with a 2 bottle containment station and a cascade panel...maybe upgrade to ASME cylinders and air purification if possible and add a high pressure reel on the side to fill a future mobile unit. Also need to add the SCUBA set up for the dive teams...oh and my dive tank! :-) Isnt dive air held to a higher purification?
    Our Mako Compressor is a 25 hp 3 phase 4 stage 6,000 psi with i believe 4 filters all in a single cabinet, that is mounted at our station. We use it to fill an 8 bottle cascade on our rescue truck which has a 3 chamber Mako fill /frag chamber. we installed a 75 foot high pressure hose reel on the wall next to the compressor to fill the mobile cascade system. For SCBA you use it with the inserts in the frag chamber and for SCUBA you pull them out and they fit in the larger Scuba tanks. Back in 2003 it cost in the neighborhood of 46k plus the electrical mods for the station which we paid for out of our budget & ran around 12 grand to get the 3 phase into the building and a new gentran switch for a 35 kw genset which we bought the next year.
    We've had zero problems with the Mako system for what it's worth.

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    Default Narrative Pointers for Fill Station

    Last year our department was awarded it's 1st AFG grant, with the help of Kurt and the information on this forum we our hopeful to land a gear grant this year. If that is successful we have discussed going after a fill station. Most likely we would stay with single phase power, neither of our two stations currently are set up for 3 phase. We are using 4500 psi cylinders, therefore will be looking at a 6000 psi system. We would look for the ability to fill SCUBA and a high pressure reel for filling mobile casscades in the region.

    If anyone has pointers for a narrative or a narrative they wouldn't mind sharing we would be very grateful. I can trade for a successful SCBA narrative (looking back, it would have made sense to include the fill station into the scba package but after several years of failure we wanted to go after the most basic of our needs).

    bdj@zoominternet.net

    Thank you for all of the information and pointing us in Kurt's direction.

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