I need some serious help here. I belong to a department in New Jersey that shall remain nameless at this time. Over the past 10 years or so, the department has installed a floor-based exhaust system in the bays at each station. By "floor-based" I mean this: next to each bay, there is a hole in floor with a long black tube sticking out of it. This tube has to be manually placed on the exhaust pipe of each truck. When the stations are dispatched, a tone signals a giant fan to turn on, which creates a vacuum in the tubes and in theory, exhausts all of the diesel fumes out of the station. The truck pulls out and, once again in theory, the tube falls off as the truck leaves.

Now, the reality of it. The system sucks. For starters, the tubes are difficult to keep on the exhaust pipes when the trucks are sitting in the stations. There is nothing other than friction to hold them in place. Also, once the trucks start to move, they usually get bound up or stuck, so on more than one occaision they have been dragged down the street and found at various places around town. They are also a tripping hazard. Firefighters and visitors have been known to fall in the holes or trip on the tubes. At some of the stations, the tubes actually run right in front of the gear racks! Try putting turnout gear on while stumbling around at 8" to 10" black rubber tube on the floor.

We have done the research and found that the system in no way, shape or form meets the NFPA standard. However, the powers that be in the department think the system is fine and won't do anything to correct it. Most of us agree that they know it's a bad system but don't want to admit it because they repeated installed it in all of the stations as they were rebuilt. After repeated attempts to address the problem in-house and out of total frustration, an anonymous individual called the state OSHA department to inspect it. They came in but stated that New Jersey was a PEOSHA state and since they did not have a written standard on fire house exhaust systems, that there wasn't much they could do about it.

Now, wouldn't it seem logical that if they didn't have a written state standard that they would go by the recognized national standard, in this case the NFPA standard? Does anyone, especially those of your in New Jersey, have any idea what we can do about this? It's obviously a hazard but the state department in charge of protecting the health of employees in the state says it's not their problem.