We as a department are just starting to look into a station generator and the chief gave me the go-ahead to get the facts on them I do have a few questions though. First off, what size should we look at? We need to be able to open the garage doors, power the base radios, the E.O.C. and the A.C./heat since we are an emergency cooling/heating center. What are the advantages/disadvantages to diesel and gas? Diesel would be preferred since we have a diesel pump on site but if gas has some winning advantages we could go with the idea. I thought I remember reading somewhere that the DOD or some place, has large, diesel generators with low hours for free or close to. Did I remember that right or am I just filling in the memory gaps with my old thoughts? Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully help us find one that will work for us.
FF M. Schabacker
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Thread: Emergency Station Generator
05-01-2010, 02:42 PM #1
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
Emergency Station Generator
05-01-2010, 02:49 PM #2
Best bet would be to contact a generator suplier or electrician to tell you what size you need. We have a large Onan that is fed by natural gas. If you have natural gas to or near your building that would be the optimal choice, as you don't have to worry about filling a tank. The DOD does have them every now and then, but they are mobile mostly (trailers) and I can't remember if they are free or auction. Just make sure you check with someone in the electrical/generater field to find out how big a unit you will need. Happy hunting.Matt G.
05-01-2010, 03:14 PM #3
There are many low hour diesel gensets available from the government. some with as little as 25 hours on them. Range from 10 kw on up to 100 kw. Contact NEIOWA by PM for the best info on how to acquire.
He is the FEEP guru.
05-01-2010, 04:07 PM #4
Since my old man is an electrician, we have sold a couple ATS type generators. I think most of them use propane since they are on farms. Maybe one uses natural gas, I can't remember. Pretty much what we reccomend, is find your service amperage, and get one that size. If you are going to take the time to put one in, make it equal to your line service. When installed, they run once every week, automattically switching on and off.
05-01-2010, 04:15 PM #5
05-01-2010, 04:15 PM #6
- Join Date
- Apr 2009
- SW Missouri
First have an elctrictian come to the station and figure out what size you need. If you have the funds to do so get it oversized, because you never know when you will add on to the station or something new comes along and you'll need more power than you are currently using.
There are lots of DOD generators out there. I know that we took a pass on three last month. There we all large KW and had very few hours on them. Once again the electrictian will come in handy to tell you what you need to hook up your station to the generator.
If you are looking at new and have natural gas I would give it a long hard look. I would also look at spending the money to have auto-switching installed.
Look into how you are going to fuel the generator, if it is to be used for an extended time. (thats the reason we went with NG)
05-01-2010, 04:47 PM #7
LP or CNG is the way to go for sure. Remember, its going to sit for a long time without being used. That is not a good scenario for gas and diesel fuels.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
05-01-2010, 05:31 PM #8
Hate to disagree... but Diesel is the best choice for an emergency generator.
Believe me, I love the convenience of LPG or CNG, but in a TRUE emergency, there could be supply disruptions.
Diesel, on the other hand can be carried in barrels if needed or siphoned out of DPW trucks, etc.
It's a bit more of a pain, but my vote is Diesel.
We have hundreds of diesel generators around the country and they run every week automatically for an hour with no load and once a month for an hour on a load. You should exercise them at least monthly. The five hundred gallon tanks get filled every 18 months unless they have run for other reasons. No problems with the fuel.I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.
"The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."
"When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."
05-01-2010, 07:44 PM #9
05-01-2010, 07:52 PM #10
05-01-2010, 07:57 PM #11
We opted for a 15KVA gas powered generator on a wheeled frame. We don't have a good spot for a permanently installed generator, and since it's stored inside the station, we know it's relatively warm at all times.
The appropriate cable stays with the generator and there is a cutover switch and appropriate female plug installed on an outside wall. Once the generator is connected, up, and running smoothly, we simply throw the switch.
We haven't tested the generator with the siren, but it does a good job for everything else, including the water pump, doors, and lights.
Our social hall is a separate building, available for use as a shelter. After the 1998 Ice Storm, FEMA offered matching grants for generators and we acquired a 45KVA diesel generator for that purpose. It also is stored in the fire station but can be quickly towed to the social hall, connected, and fired up. It will support the entire load of the building, including a walk-in cooler, all lighting, and the HVAC.Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.
Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.
05-01-2010, 08:06 PM #12
- Join Date
- May 2005
I would contact your local FEMA representative. We just received a grant to out fit all of our buildings with GenPaks. The stations are 50kw natural gas and HQ and communications are much bigger, although I am not sure how big.
ChiefKN make a valid point, but I would recommend natural gas with a 250 gallon LPG back up. Natural gas (not CNG) has the advantage of not needing to be shipped in as long as your local provider's system is online. LPG does not go bad, as gasoline or diesel can. Also with the tri-fuel LPG\natural gas\gasoline units you could also have a aluminum fuel cell to use gasoline, if the LPG or natural gas supply is disrupted.
When buying a generator make sure you allow for room to grow. In the event you need to supply add on equipment you could burn up a generator by over taxing it. We found that out the hard way during Katrina and Rita.
05-01-2010, 08:47 PM #13
We have a very large Caterpillar diesel powered generator behind our HQ station. If I recall correctly, there is a 2K diesel tank it runs off of.
HQ is also the main emergency operations center for the City.
The other 2 stations have natural gas powered generators.
All three stations generators are setup to run for an hour every week."The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY
05-01-2010, 11:34 PM #14
Had an electrician do some modification on our electric panel. Gave us the ability to plug anyone of the 4 truck generators into our building and power the basics when needed. Electrician donated the work. Can't beat a zero cost solution.
Had that setup for 10 years. Then got an Onan generator from a FireAct grant. Permanent solution. Total cost, with installation, around $50k."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
05-02-2010, 08:01 AM #15
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- West Oneonta,NY 13861
If memory serves me right, there is an NFPA standard out for standby generators. Ours is a 60kw diesel sitting atop a 140 gallon fuel tank. It seems to hit me that it has to have a fuel supply for minimum 24 hour run and be tested weekly and have automatic switching. I'll look to see if i can find standard. stay safe
05-13-2010, 12:26 AM #16
- Join Date
- May 2010
These guys are right on track. First you will need to determine the service amps for your station. For example our station #2 has a 600 amp service and we have a 50 KW generator on the roof (on the coast and prone to hurricanes). It is run on LP gas and will run the entire station with the exception of the emergency heat strips and the elevator. Station #1 which is also the PD and dispatch center has a 1600 amp service, this requires a little larger gen set, the 250 KW is to large to run off LP and runs on diesel. This one is also mounted up on the roof and fuel is pumped up to it from a sealed tank in the ground. Not sure where the cut off is for LP gas powered gen set is but know that the old stations had 25 KW gen sets which where diesel so using a diesel set so that shouldn't be problem. They are also correct with the automatic transfer switch and weekly test. You must also maintain a generator test log for these weekly tests. Hope this helps.
05-13-2010, 01:00 AM #17
Lots of great ideas. I have a number of both propane and diesel gensets scattered across the US, and like both propane and diesel.
Both can be refueled via alternative means. Diesel is a bit more of a hassle with fuel storage, spills, etc. Propane is easier to store, and in my experience more trouble free.
However, my BIG gensets, like 260kw, are diesel due to the amount of propane they eat through at that size. I can't imagine you needing one that size.
I had a jet powered generator - ran off Kerosene. Way bigger than you would need, but nothing beats the sound!
is a method, but I prefer like mentioned, match your service entry. If you have a 200 amp
service, make sure you get one that will support a 200 amp draw. Lots less rewiring or
even thought during use. Just run stuff like normal.
Your state forester is your source for surplus DOD gensets - they will probably require
some modifications for the ATS, but certainly a deal!
Remember, any genset installation is only as good as your maintenance program.
05-13-2010, 08:02 AM #18
05-13-2010, 09:12 AM #19
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- Erie, PA/ Home of Lake Effect Snow
To put things in perspective, we just had a 100k Onan installed in our main station. It ran us about $65k. That included the genset, transfer switch, electrical work, and reblumbing the station for medium pressure natural gas. With something that big you're going to have to upgrade your service lines. We got lucky as the larger lines were at the other end of the property.
Your best bet to get things started is get a hold of a few of your local commercial electricians and have them come in and let them figure out how much generator you need. When our bids came back, we were able to save $6-7 thousand from one reputable contractor to another. It was quite a difference.
05-13-2010, 10:35 AM #20
Ok, I have the perfect solution for sizing. Don't play around, get this genset.
Might be a little hard to install at first, but it should give you all the power you need, with just a tad left over.
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