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Thread: Why CAFS?

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Have you yourself, or your Department ever used CAFS on a first-in line during an aggressive interior attack of a building with heavy fire involvement in several rooms?
    Yes, yes, and yes. I've been doing this 21 years and I think I've tried just about every new fangled device that's come up the pike since. Some of them I think have been great additions, some I think are over-hyped at best, or downright failures at worst!

    A department that I used to work full time for had CAFS on a first due piece. We trained and used it extensively. Again, all situations are different, but I came away underwhelmed. The reference I made to two FFs being roasted due to the across the board mentality vis a vis CAFS was a fire that I worked, not just a 3rd hand story. I was working the outside vent position (such as it is since there were only two accessible windows, both not in the best spots!). Again, missapplication...

    I'm not anti-CAFS per se. As I said, it has its uses, but it isn't a silver bullet/wonder weapon like some people seem to think. And there are plenty of times when it should NOT be used as a default.

    The deaths in Europe are not rumors. They were reported on Fire Engineering's website at the time (among others).

    I do have an open mind about everything in the fire service. However, I've been around long enough to see many things that were touted as new wonderful game changers, only to turn out not to live up to expectations, especially when not used appropriately.

    I've yet to see concrete proof, on the street, that CAFS is universally VASTLY superior to high GPM flow with rapid application at the seat of the fire, coordinated and appropriate ventilation, effective hose selection and advancement, and proper nozzle technique. Or that its heat absorption properties are far superior to water. Especially in a pressurized or compartmental fire environment with "black fire", elevated pyrolysis, and/or near flashover conditions. I've read all the CAFS studies and done lots of training with it, and compared with an open mind but again, the real world application hasn't convinced me that it lives up to the hype.

    Now find a way to have CAFS AND keep my 180gpm (without changing the mobility of the line) and that would be a different story
    Last edited by mtngael; 09-16-2011 at 09:57 AM.

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    [QUOTE=neiowa;1294719]So judging by your 3 posts you actually have not used or trained on CAFS.
    A 2-1/2" CAFS attack line gains nothing over a 1-3/4". /QUOTE]

    See previous. And who said anything about a 2-1/2" CAFS line? I meant good ol' water, for a commercial building fire, which both LODD situations mentioned were.

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    http://firechief.com/suppression/foa...g_heat_stress/

    Again, we don't use single jacket line here but I doubt an extra layer of fabric would have made much of a difference in this case. I do know that I've been in plenty of fires where the heat levels at the floor were easily similar to this situation for the initial few minutes and I've yet to have had a water filled hoseline burst from radiant heat.

    Most of the truly extensive CAFS studies were done in Europe because CAFS has been in steady use more there than here. They found that for "fuel controlled" fires, that CAFS did extinquish better than water. A point which I don't think anyone, including myself, is arguing. However, they found that for "ventilation controlled" fires, there was no difference. Now how many of our fires in the states are "fuel controlled" OR "ventilation controlled"? Not too many. Those same studies also showed significantly less gas cooling ability of CAFS vs water, as well as higher radiant heat levels post extinguishment. As we know, modern fires produce a hotter, more gaseous environment, and that rapidly cooling the environment lowers the risk of flashover and "rapid fire events". Especially important in these days of lower staffing and often delayed, or inadequate ventilation. Even the Euros tend to avoid using CAFS in fires where there is inadequate ventilation in high heat conditions.

    One more factor is the CAFS system itself. Even some of the most ardent proponents of CAFS (instructors, not guys trying to sell it) that I've met and spoken with, have conceded that many systems that have flooded the market are marginal at best. Effective CAFS requires extremely complex components and circuitry, and we all know how reliable THAT stuff is, to maintain the proper 7:1 "bubblette" ratio for the ideal CAFS stream.

    Again, not trying to knock it, just trying to keep the perspective realistic.
    Last edited by mtngael; 09-16-2011 at 11:08 AM.

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    mtngael,

    What type of department (rural/suburban/urban) was your CAFS experience in?
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    Rural/suburban/commercial. However I've done my share of urban fire duty too, with a mix of SFDs, multi-dwellings, commercial/taxpayers, and high-rises. That was pre-CAFS but for the average SFD room and contents fire there, CAFS probably would have been fine. For our commercials and high-rises, I'd think less so. The subways would have been a toss up probably depending on the situation.
    Last edited by mtngael; 09-16-2011 at 01:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtngael View Post
    Rural/suburban/commercial. However I've done my share of urban fire duty too, with a mix of SFDs, multi-dwellings, commercial/taxpayers, and high-rises. That was pre-CAFS but for the average SFD room and contents fire there, CAFS probably would have been fine. For our commercials and high-rises, I'd think less so. The subways would have been a toss up probably depending on the situation.
    SO,I'm guessing you WON'T be OVERJOYED with the Bosses NEXT musings. Luck being, expense will probably indicate a Diversion. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtngael View Post
    Yes, yes, and yes. I've been doing this 21 years and I think I've tried just about every new fangled device that's come up the pike since. Some of them I think have been great additions, some I think are over-hyped at best, or downright failures at worst!

    A department that I used to work full time for had CAFS on a first due piece. We trained and used it extensively. Again, all situations are different, but I came away underwhelmed. The reference I made to two FFs being roasted due to the across the board mentality vis a vis CAFS was a fire that I worked, not just a 3rd hand story. I was working the outside vent position (such as it is since there were only two accessible windows, both not in the best spots!). Again, missapplication...

    I'm not anti-CAFS per se. As I said, it has its uses, but it isn't a silver bullet/wonder weapon like some people seem to think. And there are plenty of times when it should NOT be used as a default.

    The deaths in Europe are not rumors. They were reported on Fire Engineering's website at the time (among others).

    I do have an open mind about everything in the fire service. However, I've been around long enough to see many things that were touted as new wonderful game changers, only to turn out not to live up to expectations, especially when not used appropriately.

    I've yet to see concrete proof, on the street, that CAFS is universally VASTLY superior to high GPM flow with rapid application at the seat of the fire, coordinated and appropriate ventilation, effective hose selection and advancement, and proper nozzle technique. Or that its heat absorption properties are far superior to water. Especially in a pressurized or compartmental fire environment with "black fire", elevated pyrolysis, and/or near flashover conditions. I've read all the CAFS studies and done lots of training with it, and compared with an open mind but again, the real world application hasn't convinced me that it lives up to the hype.

    Now find a way to have CAFS AND keep my 180gpm (without changing the mobility of the line) and that would be a different story
    I bet you would have LOVED to have had a Cafs line on North High st. Probably would have saved you the Beating you guys took prior to my actions in the attic area. Yes there is a time and place for Cafs and for many R&c's it's GREAT. There is STILL,However,a place for good old HD Dihydrogen monoxide application. Cost and upkeep of the Cafs makes it iffy for this dept.If you love it and $ is No object,then you should have only cafs units. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 09-19-2011 at 09:42 AM.

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    CAFS is not the magic bullet to do all things well, But when you have no public water supply and have to haul ALL the water needed to the fireground , it does help get things done.
    We have a limited water source and have to haul from a choice of three dry hydrants spread around our coverage area. Rolling up on scene with 2500 gallons on first out engine & tanker goes a lot farther with CAFS.

    We have been using it since 2000 on our first out engine. Maintenance has been minimal with only compressor oil & filter changes, replaced the cogged drive belt at 5 years old and one sensor that failed at 3 months old. Yes it does have a learning curve to get everyone on the same page with tactics.
    Much easier to haul a charged CAFS line into a structure, quick cooling of the heat load and once you coat a room down with Foam bubbles , almost zero chance of re-kindle.

    Massive water flow is great if you have the source supply to provide it, but the damage from water filling up the structure to flow out the doors will often be worse than the fire damage.

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    Why do people have to resort to such extreme statements like:

    the damage from water filling up the structure to flow out the doors will often be worse than the fire damage
    Honestly, if your crews are flowing so much water with a room, or three, burning that it is filling up the building, and then running out the doors, some training in nozzle control would be called for.

    If you like CAFs, and it works for you fantastic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Why do people have to resort to such extreme statements like:



    Honestly, if your crews are flowing so much water with a room, or three, burning that it is filling up the building, and then running out the doors, some training in nozzle control would be called for.

    If you like CAFs, and it works for you fantastic.
    Obviously they have vast experience with filling swimming pools, creating new parking lots, urban renewal, saving basements, or any number of the cliches for ineptitude.

    CAFS has been around since the 1950's when the U. S. Navy investigated it's use on carriers. If it was actually the cure-all some believers think it to be it would have been widely implemented by now. Yes, it has it's applications where it is more effective than other means (for instance the Yellowstone fire where CAFS saved many historic buildings) but it is only a tool in the box. I guess if your mission is to save structures from approaching fire it is, by far, the ultimate solution.

    Having witnessed uncountable demonstrations of CAFS I remain skeptical about general use of CAFS on average, daily firefighting applications. One demonstration I witnessed, at a convention no less, was a car fire. The team let the car burn for nearly 20 minutes and then made their attack. I have seen better firefighting with a booster hose and I have always referred to a 1" line as a boot washer or a dumpster filler. A rookie with a garden hose could have done better. Other demonstrations have been impressive but they seemed to have been geared towards the fire load and conditions that favored CAFS strong points.

    Just once, I would like to see a major fire load like a lumber yard attacked at the claimed reduced flow rates of water by CAFS supporters. Then, I would like to see the exact same fire attacked with Class A foam and water with common nozzles and procedures. For a third round, the same major fire load attacked with plain water as normal.

    I'm guessing that the first two scenarios would favor the use of Class A foam. I imagine the plain water scenario would last the longest. However, I would be willing to bet that the cost of extinguishment would be considerably cheaper with plain water and that does not even take into account the massive investment of equipment, training, and maintenance of the CAFS apparatus, only the addition of the chemical.

    I fully believe CAFS has its place in the fire service. I just don't believe it is the answer to everything and certainly don't believe that every single pumper should be equipped with it. CAFS adds to maintenance, complexity, and initial purchase. It just needs to be pointed in the right direction.

    But then, I don't have credit for over 5,000 posts on firehouse.com so I probably don't know what I am talking about. (Cheap shot not aimed at fyred up, this time.)

    To be honest, I seldom have customers ask me about CAFS. Sure, we sell it. I would never question a customer on their wish list or deny them what they want us to build, if it can be done. The fact is, the subject just doesn't come up that often. Apparently, I am not the only one that is not convinced.

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    My 6000 posts don't mean a mother ****ing thing in the grand scheme of things. But they also do not invalidate my 34 years in the fire service, my training, experience, and the amazing instructors and firefighters I have had the honor to serve with and learn from.

    Use CAFs or don't use CAFs, I couldn't begin to pretend to care less. But have a better reason for jusitfying it than some ludicrous statement like:

    the damage from water filling up the structure to flow out the doors will often be worse than the fire damage
    Last edited by FyredUp; 09-16-2011 at 11:51 PM.
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    Default Delivery Rate Research Project

    The CAFS Institute recently launched a groundbreaking live fire research program — the CAFS Institute’s “Delivery Rate Research Project.” In association with an ad-hoc group of fire industry professionals, the goal is to quantify the benefits of using compressed air foam in regard to comparing it to water only application. The Project uses instrumented acquired structures and real world firefighting techniques.

    http://www.cafsinstitute.org/drrp.html

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    Default Cafs

    Our dept. equipped several units with CAFS systems in addition to the typical Class A foam injection system we have on most other units.
    We found the cost of the system, the cost of training and retraining new members and the cost of the maintinence just didn't justify the improved performance over a typical Class A foam response.

    Bottom line: It costs a lot of $$$ for the benefit. Not ordering on any new units.

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    We have an engine on order with CAFS right now. Should be starting the line at pierce any day now. As for the firefigthing benifits of CAFS I do not have enough experience to say that I like it. I have only usedd it twice on real fires. One was a heavily involved attic fire and the other was a room and contents fire. The attic fire I was not impressed with the CAFS, I personnelly felt that we didnt get the knock down on the well advanced fire, Now was this because of the CAFS or the fact that the engine pulled an 1 3/4 when I personally would have pulled the 2 1/2 (I was working on the truck). On the room and contents fire several people stated that they felt the went out fast. However I was on the back up line so I couldn't really get a good judge on it first hand.

    With our new engine coming with CAFS I am against it. for the following reasons:
    1) it added 50000 to the cost of the truck
    2) it raised the height of the crosslays by 10 inches
    3) with the generator already in the dunnage area adding the compressor forced us to move the booster reel to the rear compartment.
    4) Being in an urban area with high hydrant pressure, I am wondering how this will affect the CAFS. Add that to the training of over 300 firefighters on the system
    5) Being that our fleet is around 40 quints,engines, rescues. I question the maintance on the system. How are the added electronics going to hold up to the demands we place on our trucks. We can't even keep the class A foam systems running without problems, now we are adding an air system into the mix.

    Time will tell on the CAFS system. One of my main concerns with CAFS in general is I find it hard to find non-manufactor based info on the subject. Any time that I see Pierce, seagrave, ANSUl or any other bussiness sponsored training info my guard goes up.

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    [QUOTE=RFD21C;1295366] 4) Being in an urban area with high hydrant pressure, I am wondering how this will affect the CAFS. Add that to the training of over 300 firefighters on the system.
    QUOTE]
    One thing's for certain, as I and many others have pointed out in other discussions here: You will have to supply your CAFS lines from tank.

    In order to get the CAFS air compressor to produce adequate air pressure and volume, you have to get the engine speed above idle. If you try to operate from hydrant pressure(how high?, ours run 185 psi average), or supply the pump from a hydrant, you will be running the engine pretty much at idle. That won't get you the air you need.

    We and many others have gone to automatic tank fill systems and have spec'd tank to pump plumbing that allows for adequate water flow (850 GPM +/- in our case. If you don't have an automatic tank fill system, your driver/operator is going to have to monitor the tank level constantly.

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    [QUOTE=chiefengineer11;1295381]
    Quote Originally Posted by RFD21C View Post
    4) Being in an urban area with high hydrant pressure, I am wondering how this will affect the CAFS. Add that to the training of over 300 firefighters on the system.
    QUOTE]
    One thing's for certain, as I and many others have pointed out in other discussions here: You will have to supply your CAFS lines from tank.

    In order to get the CAFS air compressor to produce adequate air pressure and volume, you have to get the engine speed above idle. If you try to operate from hydrant pressure(how high?, ours run 185 psi average), or supply the pump from a hydrant, you will be running the engine pretty much at idle. That won't get you the air you need.

    We and many others have gone to automatic tank fill systems and have spec'd tank to pump plumbing that allows for adequate water flow (850 GPM +/- in our case. If you don't have an automatic tank fill system, your driver/operator is going to have to monitor the tank level constantly.
    I think that has been taken into account. The rear intake has the capablity to switch to auto tank fill. I am not on the engine committee so not 100% sure on the exact spec. I asked about the problem you mentioned and was told they speced the auto tank fill. However the training of the average lay firefigther is going to be a challenge. If using CAFS use the auto tank fill. If not you can use any intake. Getting 300 plus on board with that concept is going to be hard. the 30% of the people that are gung ho firemen no prob, the 10% of the pay check firemen thats another story.

    Not to mention when the bills start to pile up for all the foam that is used during fires.

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    The statement of water running down the stairs and flowing out the door comes from a well developed multi room & contents fire prior to us having CAFS, in a two story 2800 sq ft HORDERS house.
    We called it the Cat House as besides tons of culch stacked eye high in every room the woman had over 250 feral cats.
    The smell was horrendous, cat pee and dead cats everywhere

    The initial knockdown with water was reasonably quick but overhauling all the crap took over 5000 gallons of water to extinguish completely. When we were finished the pile of debris outside in the yard was 8 feet tall outside every window.

    The mutual aid company from a nearby career dept actually had a 1 inch drill bit and started drilling drain holes for the excess water to drain out and relieve the weight from the 2nd story floors so the crew could pull ceilings downstairs.
    With CAFS you can put a thick blanket on the culch piles and it will smother the buried fire and allow overhaul quicker. No magic potion ,just an easier way to get things accomplished.
    Last edited by islandfire03; 09-19-2011 at 05:05 PM.

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    [QUOTE=RFD21C;1295419]
    Quote Originally Posted by chiefengineer11 View Post

    I think that has been taken into account. The rear intake has the capablity to switch to auto tank fill. I am not on the engine committee so not 100% sure on the exact spec. I asked about the problem you mentioned and was told they speced the auto tank fill. However the training of the average lay firefigther is going to be a challenge. If using CAFS use the auto tank fill. If not you can use any intake. Getting 300 plus on board with that concept is going to be hard. the 30% of the people that are gung ho firemen no prob, the 10% of the pay check firemen thats another story.

    Not to mention when the bills start to pile up for all the foam that is used during fires.
    Our auto tank fill is a little unique, although I have seen others that are set up and funtion in a similar manner. Our 6" steamer MIV is on the left side (our preference). There is, as required, an intake relief valve ahead of the MIV. Our auto tank fill is teed from the the plumbing to the relief. We have no pony inlet on that side. Our SOP calls for any supply line, regardless of size, to come to to that 6" inlet, which has a 6" NST to 5" Storz elbow semi-permanently attached. Whatever size supply line is brought to that point is attached there, using adapters as needed. The needed adapters are immediately at hand in the engineer's compartment.

    We have gotten to the point that almost all operations are done from tank. Only if we need to go to big water do we open the MIV and send the water directly into the pump. If you need that much water, you're long past a CAFS operation. A good rule of thumb (for us and the way the engine is set up) for when to open the MIV is around the same time you need to go from "Pressure" to "Volume."
    Last edited by chiefengineer11; 09-19-2011 at 09:00 PM.

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    Just if you're spec'ing a new CAFS anything... AT LEAST DO A DIRECT TANK FILL or some sort of Automatic Fill Valve. That actually goes for ANY FOAM SYSTEM!

    A MAJOR manufacture has delivered numerous rigs in this area that have foam and CAFS systems without any such means to use the foam once the tank water is depleated. I asked one particular salesman and his reply is simply "They got what they specified."

    I do thank most of you for reassuring that I was educated on Foam Systems correctly... Everytime I walk into a station to meet with a truck committee, if any type of foam system is mentioned, I spend at least a solid hour or two educating them on pluses and minuses of all the different varieties and how it's going to change thier prospective truck plans as well as their day-to-day operations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFD21C View Post
    Not to mention when the bills start to pile up for all the foam that is used during fires.
    Bill the property owner and/or their insurance company. Also consider having your municipality enact a cost-recovery ordinance (which will get you re-imbursed for things like diesel, kitty litter, foam and other expendible supplies.)
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    [QUOTE=chiefengineer11;1295437]
    Quote Originally Posted by RFD21C View Post

    Our auto tank fill is a little unique, although I have seen others that are set up and funtion in a similar manner. Our 6" steamer MIV is on the left side (our preference). There is, as required, an intake relief valve ahead of the MIV. Our auto tank fill is teed from the the plumbing to the relief. We have no pony inlet on that side. Our SOP calls for any supply line, regardless of size, to come to to that 6" inlet, which has a 6" NST to 5" Storz elbow semi-permanently attached. Whatever size supply line is brought to that point is attached there, using adapters as needed. The needed adapters are immediately at hand in the engineer's compartment.

    We have gotten to the point that almost all operations are done from tank. Only if we need to go to big water do we open the MIV and send the water directly into the tank. If you need that much water, you're long past a CAFS operation. A good rule of thumb (for us and the way the engine is set up) for when to open the MIV is around the same time you need to go from "Pressure" to "Volume."
    Ours utilizes a similar arrangement with all supply lines no matter what size feeding into the apparatus via the 6" steamer connection on the left side of the apparatus. Water flow into the booster tank is controlled via the Odin AutoFill Valve. The booster tank is 1000 gallon and the AutoFill Valve is set to open when the tank level reaches 500 gallon. Photo # 1 shows the AutoFill Valve assemby in the lower right hand corner of the driver's side pump panel. Photo #2 shows the 6" drivers side inlet with the driver's side pump panel cover installed. Photo #3 shows the Odin AutoFill control located above the tank fill gauge in the upper left hand corner of the officer's side pump panel.
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    Last edited by ejfeicht; 09-20-2011 at 12:14 AM.

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    I just noticed an error and edited my post to correct it. Since my post was quoted, I wanted to correct it here, because it was a significant error.

    I said, "We have gotten to the point that almost all operations are done from tank. Only if we need to go to big water do we open the MIV and send the water directly into the tank."

    That should have read, "...send the water directly into the pump."

    My apologies.

    And ej, yes, looking at yours, it is essentially the same thing, just with very different parts. Thanks for posting the photos.
    Last edited by chiefengineer11; 09-19-2011 at 09:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Bill the property owner and/or their insurance company. Also consider having your municipality enact a cost-recovery ordinance (which will get you re-imbursed for things like diesel, kitty litter, foam and other expendible supplies.)
    Easier said then done. We do bill for large use of haz-mat materials on haz-mat calls. Large use of foam is able to be billed in the event on of the many tank farms we have in the city catches on fire.

    However 5 gals of foam here and their would be alot of work to collect the information and bill the property owners, we would hav eto create a job position for just billing foam, kitty litter and such.

    Add that to the number of vacant building we burn, where the city cannot even track down the property owner to pay taxes. I dare say about 50% of our fires are in vacant buildings.

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    [QUOTE=ejfeicht;1295456]
    Quote Originally Posted by chiefengineer11 View Post

    Ours utilizes a similar arrangement with all supply lines no matter what size feeding into the apparatus via the 6" steamer connection on the left side of the apparatus. Water flow into the booster tank is controlled via the Odin AutoFill Valve. The booster tank is 1000 gallon and the AutoFill Valve is set to open when the tank level reaches 500 gallon. Photo # 1 shows the AutoFill Valve assemby in the lower right hand corner of the driver's side pump panel. Photo #2 shows the 6" drivers side inlet with the driver's side pump panel cover installed. Photo #3 shows the Odin AutoFill control located above the tank fill guage in the upper left hand corner of the officer's side pump panel.
    That appears similar to what we have speced. I talked to one of the guys on the engine committee tonight. Typically we will connect to a rear intake on the engines when we forward lay and that is what the auto tank fill is hooked up to.

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    Never mind.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 09-20-2011 at 01:14 AM.
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