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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber mightymouse21's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Cascade System Help

    We at the Big Otter VFD in Clay Co. WV have just recently received our FEMA grant in the total of 97,000 after you add our 10% into the pot. We have selected some nice equipment to outfit our apparatus and members. Just to name some things: Globe Extreme Turnout Gear w/Dragonslayer knee protection, Scott NXG2 4.5 45min carbon fiber airpacks, and last but not least a cascade system. This is where I'm needing your help.

    We have several bids on different cascade systems, and was wanting input from around the country on pros and cons of each type.

    Bid 1: All-in-one Cascade from EagleAir 13cfm 14hp compressor 4 - 6000psi dot tanks and a 2-bottle fill station. ($25,000)

    Bid 2: American Airworks 3 piece system with 10cfm 13hp compressor 4 - 5000psi dot tanks, and a 2-bottle fill station ($21,000)

    Bid 3: 3-piece Eagle Compressor 13cfm 14hp compressor 4 - 6000psi dot tanks and a Scott Revolvair fill system.($18,000)

    Bid 4: 3-piece Bauer compressor 9 cfm 10hp compressor 3 - 6000psi dot tanks and a 2-bottle fill station. ($21,000)

    Keep in mind we run maybe 10 structure fires a year in our response area along with about 8 - 12 motor vehicle fires we are needing some feedback on the different types and quality of compressor bids that we have. Also, any previous experience or problems with these systems would greatly help our department choose the best equipment. Respond on the turnouts and airpacks too if you want, all input in accepted and taken into cosideration.

    We at the Big Otter VFD are just trying to get the opinion of FireFighters across the nation on the equipment that we are about to purchase, and we want to make the right decisions.

    THANKS!!!!

    CHRIS UNDERWOOD

    BOVFD - UNIT 3021


  2. #2
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    I would spend money on something else, frankly. We purchased one last year and I wished we hadn't. Unless you have someone to dilligently keep track of the filling of each bottle, the dates of hydro tests, minor repairs, etc., I would recommmend leaving the bottle filling to outside vendors. The required recordkeeping in my mind , to be done correctly,is a nightmare. We tried to keep up, but I found it easier to keep track of vendors receipts, repairs, etc.

    If you do get the compressor, we have a Bauer. It is easy to use, and with the built in safetys, almost fireman proof.

  3. #3
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    Our FD purchased a Bauer 6000 PSI 10 CFM compressor, 3 bottle fill station, and 4 bottle cascade system a year ago. Well built and easy to use. We use to rely on a outside vendor to fill our tanks but they were 50 miles away, that made it tough to refill bottles in the middle of the night.

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    We too have just received our FEMA grant to purchase an in-station compress and cascade system.

    The major brands we found were Bauer, Eagle, Compair/Mako and Hypres.

    My personal opinion is that Bauer and Eagle would be the top two to pick from, but in the end it depended on the dealer. We ended up purchasing a Bauer Unicus III for ~$40,000 from a dealer that is only 1 hour away from us. We also use that dealer to purchase most of our fire equipment from on a regular basis. One of the other dealers was located at least 8 hours away in Maine.

    Compressors do require training, testing and maintenance.

  5. #5
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by firepics
    I would spend money on something else, frankly. We purchased one last year and I wished we hadn't. Unless you have someone to dilligently keep track of the filling of each bottle, the dates of hydro tests, minor repairs, etc., I would recommmend leaving the bottle filling to outside vendors. The required recordkeeping in my mind , to be done correctly,is a nightmare. We tried to keep up, but I found it easier to keep track of vendors receipts, repairs, etc.

    If you do get the compressor, we have a Bauer. It is easy to use, and with the built in safetys, almost fireman proof.
    Interesting... one question though...

    Will your "outside vendor" come and get your scba bottles to fill at 0300 hours in a snowstorm and return them to the fireground for reuse?

    Hydro test tracking and record keeping is easy... a simple log for the bottles, and color coding the hydrotest year/

    MightyMouse21...

    Whatever system you decide to get, be sure to plan for the future, look at the warranty and service you will recieve from the dealer before making a decision.

    My FD has a Bauer system, and it is virtually firefighter proof.
    ‎"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

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    I would go with Bauer.
    -Bozz

    Air Force Medic

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber npfd801's Avatar
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    I would say with high pressure, you definitely want the 6000psi bottles. We have a cascade and compressor in the station, and a new cascade in one of our trucks. Let me tell you, empty 45-minute high pressure bottles are going to empty those cascade bottles fairly rapidly. You'll want the extra volume afforded by the higher pressure, as long as the bottles are the same size.

    Looks to me like the cheapest bid might be the one provided by the same folks providing your packs. That extra $3,000 can be used for other items within the grant's limits, stretching your dollar. That RevolveAir fill station looks like a great way to save time while filling bottles as well. Very nice.

    Having said that, we have Eagle Air equipment. Why? Probably because their local dealer gives the best service. I know for a fact one dealer of that type of equipment has been run out of the station by the chief more than once, so it probably made the choice easier. I've never heard bad of any of the companies you mentioned, so in my opinion go with the best price and who provides the best service, in a combination you're comfortable with. Our grant paid for new packs and spare bottles, a new compressor and high pressure cascade bottles for the station (we already had bought a new Eagle fill station about a year or two earlier to go with our antique cascade), and a new mobile cascade to be mounted in one of our trucks. Be warned you could be facing some back-order wait times with all of the folks buying these things with FEMA money.

    By the way, nice packs and gear. We went with MSA on our grant, due to some pricing that was too good to pass up (many of us wanted Scott), and I have some new Cairns gear coming (which is made by Globe, again a choice due to a fantastic local sales rep). I have one set coming with Dragonhide to see how well it holds up. Just out of curiosity, how many packs, spare bottles, and sets of gear are you getting?

    Good luck with the purchase process.
    Last edited by npfd801; 01-02-2005 at 05:31 AM.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Originally posted by firepics
    Unless you have someone to dilligently keep track of the filling of each bottle, the dates of hydro tests, minor repairs, etc., I would recommmend leaving the bottle filling to outside vendors.
    I don't know about all that...it's not that much work. NFPA recommends testing the air quality quarterly, so once every 3 months I catch an air sample and send it off to the lab...takes about 15 minutes. Hydro test is 5 years for steel bottles, so you don't have to mess with that often. We decided to have the unit serviced annually (hopefully to avoid repair calls), so all that takes is a phone call to the service tech. Service and air testing records I keep in 3-ring binder, all together in one place. So unless you're logging and documenting every single time you fill an SCBA bottle or run the compressor (which seems a little anal), there's really not that much to it. I find it's a lot less work than when we bought our air from a vendor (swapping bottles in the cascade system everytime a bottle got low)

    Of course, we got a really good deal on our system in 2003. It was used, about 10 years old, but in immaculate condition thanks to a neighboring department who took meticulous good care of it. They only got rid of it because they upgraded to a larger unit. We heard about it before they even offered it up for sale...they said make an offer, we offered $2,500 for the compressor and 4 6000# bottles. They said good enough, it's yours. A steal, really, considering its excellent condition. I don't know if we could have justified the cost of a new unit, not without a grant at least....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  9. #9
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    Captain Gonzo,

    I guess I should have stated that in my post. Our outside vendor has a very good record coming out to scenes. Actually, we have two fairly local vendors that are usually at the scene or waiting for us when we return to quarters. That was part of my problem when we got this copmpressor.. the old " if it ain't broken, don't fix it" routine. Money could have been spent on other, more immediate needs. For the relatively small amount of money we spend every year with the vendors, to me it seemed hard to justify spending that much on the compressor.

    I don't know about all that...it's not that much work. NFPA recommends testing the air quality quarterly, so once every 3 months I catch an air sample and send it off to the lab...takes about 15 minutes. Hydro test is 5 years for steel bottles, so you don't have to mess with that often. We decided to have the unit serviced annually (hopefully to avoid repair calls), so all that takes is a phone call to the service tech. Service and air testing records I keep in 3-ring binder, all together in one place. So unless you're logging and documenting every single time you fill an SCBA bottle or run the compressor (which seems a little anal), there's really not that much to it.
    It's not that much work, true, but in my dept. the responsibility of the air bottle and pack maintenance falls on the 2nd Lt.. When I was in that position, I had updated everything, renumbered the bottles, cross referenced serial nos., etc. Problem is when I move up, the next 2nd Lt. may not have , what we call, "good record keeping skills".

    All I was trying to say to the original poster was to make sure you REALLY need the compressor, not to get it just because it seems to be the thing to have lately.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber sdff1520's Avatar
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    Our department just ordered a Bauer compressor, 3 position fill station/containment, and 4 cascade bottles 5,000#. We looked mainly at Hypres and Bauer simply because the vendors of each are regulars with us, we see them often, and they have always provided service as needed. Pricing was similar, but after reviewing literature, talking to other departments and asking opinions the general concencous was that we couldn't go wrong with the Bauer. We have yet to take delivery, should be in a month or so.

    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department

  11. #11
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    Now you said you don't run a huge amount of fires...do you think you could get away with just a mobile bottle system. I mean all it consists of is a certain number of bottles (the one I have seen was 9 bottles at 6000 psi) and then have your vendor come out and refill the mobile whenever they can. I mean that gives you the ability to refil at 0300 or whenever but you still don't have the huge expense of a compressor system.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    [QUOTE
    All I was trying to say to the original poster was to make sure you REALLY need the compressor, not to get it just because it seems to be the thing to have lately. [/B][/QUOTE]


    Sure, I see your point....and to tell you the truth, if this good deal on a compressor hadn't basically fallen into our laps, we might not have ever purchased one. With our relatively low fire call volume, I figured we could have bought our air for about 20 years for what a new compressor system costs.....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    We should be getting or new Compair/Mako compressor/fill station/cascade in a couple weeks. We do about the same number of fire calls as the author of this thread but don't have a vendor that would come out and fill our bottles or cascade. We've had to go to a neighboring dept. about 20 miles away and fill the cascade. That was at least a couple hour trip and took our truck out of our district for that long. FEMA gave us the chance to do something in house and we jumped at it. We'll be able to use as much air as we want for training now. It's just a good deal. We bought a smaller compressor so that it would run a little more. All our dealers said it was better for the compressor to get warmed up when it was used and getting a smaller CFM pump was a good idea. Made sense to me. We won't really use so much air that we needed a big pump.
    It's been abut 4 months since we ordered it and it was shipped last week.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

    FLATLANDERS FOREVER!

  14. #14
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Few years ago we upgraded from a Bauer to a Compair/Mako. Actually liked Bauer's proposal for the new unit as much as the Mako unit, but our local Bauer service rep is about the most useless company in the world. Similar bids but the Bauer was $5k more also. We have 4 6ooopsi bottles, 15hp, 20cfm with 3 fill stations plus an auxiliary port we use to fill the bottles on our aerial. We will also be adding a second regulator to use for air supply to our truck brakes. We added in the bid, 5 years worth of quarterly air testing and standard maintenance (fluids/filters/etc) so that we did not have to worry about it. It's also used to fill SCUBA bottles. Record keeping is fairly easy. We don't have anyone local to come and fill our bottles and we do ship them out to get hydro tested.
    "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?

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    MembersZone Subscriber sdff1520's Avatar
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    We will also be adding a second regulator to use for air supply to our truck brakes.
    Don't know how much that option will cost, but you may want to consider just using a standard shop compressor (120psi) to run your truck brakes, pretty cheap, and less wear and tear on the $10,000+ compressor and filters etc... Plus then you have air available for other uses, power tools, filling low tires etc... We bought a rather large compressor from a service station that was upgrading, cost was virtually nothing, and then plumbed air all around the station. Spent very little on the project, and has lasted us for a long long time.
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

  16. #16
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    $450. Not a lot of volume involved so it's going to be fairly easy on the compressor.
    "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?

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    used to work for a company that sell, services and builds all kinds of systems for Bauer and would highly recommend them...and you are probably in their sales teritory....go to Breathingair.com...they are in Reynoldsburg Ohio....I wouldnt buy anything but bauer....they will also sell you a contract to maintain your system...including air quality testing....

  18. #18
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    We replaced a Mako with a 13CFM Bauer.My experience is just the opposite of my esteemed friend Bones.I wouldn't have another Mako if it was free.Neverminding that,my recommendation would be to go for a higher cfm unit regardless of how little air you use now.Once you get the unit,trust me, you'll use more.The larger CFM unit doesn't have to run as long or work as hard to keep your system filled.Loose translation:longer service life.I've got 8 4500# bottles(from our old system)and 4 6000#.We also fill cascades for several other communities so having the large storage capacity cuts down on waiting time.I don't have much experience with Eagle but the Bauer is a very well made unit and our servicer is second to none.As Gonzo says,they're virtually bulletproof. T.C.

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