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The Finest Supporting the Bravest!

The purpose of the Fire Mechanics Section is to promote standardization of fire apparatus and equipment preventative maintenance, improve safety standards and practices, promote workshops, conferences, and seminars related to the purposes of this Section, and to promote cost savings through standardization of building and equipment purchasing and maintenance.

RECENT FIRE MECHANIC NEWS

Posted: Jun 4, 2013

Personal Escape Systems Offer Simplified Use and Designs

Alan M. Petrillo

When a firefighter has to use his personal escape system, there's no time for fiddling around with its component parts, so manufacturers of such systems have refined their products to make them intuitive for firefighters and simple to use.

Hooks

Matt Hunt, rescue safety market manager for Sterling Rope Company Inc., says his company has developed two new escape system hooks-the Lightning and the Lightning GT-that allow firefighters to bail out of a tenuous situation as fast as possible.

The hooks are precision-machined of aerospace grade 7075-T6 aluminum and heat-treated for maximum strength, Hunt says. "The Lightning and Lightning GT combine a hook device with a hitching slot that can attach onto a windowsill or can quickly be fastened around an anchor in a room," he says. "The GT model has a wire gate for easily connecting to a remote anchor, eliminating the challenge of threading the rope through a hitching slot in a low-visibility situation."

Lightning GT
(1) Sterling Rope Company introduced two new escape system hooks-
the Lighting and the Lightning GT (shown here). The Lightning GT
has a wire gate over a hitching slot that allows the hook to be quickly
fastened around an anchor in a room.
(Photo courtesy of Sterling Rope Co.)

Hunt notes that the new hooks can be paired with any approved harness and used with Sterling's escape kit, consisting of an F4 descent device, a choice of three escape customized ropes (FireTech, SafeTech, and EscapeTech) in a variety of lengths, and either a lumbar or hip-mounted bag to hold the equipment.

Petzl USA also has developed a new hook for use in personal escape systems-a forged aluminum model that incorporates a slot in the spine so a rescue rope can be hitched off. "Our new hook is designed to be tied off with a simple clove hitch," says John Evans, Petzl's marketing director. "If a firefighter has a suitable anchor in a room, say a radiator or a pipe like you'd find in an industrial setting, then he could tie off to that instead of using the hook on a windowsill or other location."

Evans says the new hook is designed to be used in conjunction with Petzl's EXO personal rescue system that includes the EXO descent device and a length of 7.5-millimeter Technora® aramid fiber rope.

Petzl's EXO personal rescue system
(2) A firefighter uses Petzl's EXO personal
rescue system to bail out of a building. The
system includes an EXO descent device,
Technora® aramid fiber rope, and a forged
aluminum hook with a slotted spine.
(Photo courtesy of Petzl USA.)

Systems

RIT Safety Solutions makes the Pre-Rigged Escape Safety System (PRESS) for firefighters in need of personal rescue, says Omar Jordan, RIT's owner. "Every egress system should be 100 percent prerigged, integrated, fire-resistant, and lightweight," Jordan says. "We're the only manufacturer that makes the complete system itself-all the equipment in the system and the life safety harness."

The PRESS includes a fully rigged Class II harness; an escape line of either 3/8-inch tubular webbing or eight-millimeter Kevlar® rope; and RIT's AL2 or AL descender device and an anchor, where RIT offers a choice of its autolocking carabiner or a Crosby, Flash, or NARS hook.

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Posted: Jun 4, 2013

Deeply Rooted

By Andrew J. Olson,
Corporate Vice President of the
OEM Division, Whelen Engineering

More than 60 years of serving the public with lifesaving products designed, manufactured, and supported by American employees has not changed Whelen Engineering's commitment to grow its business in the United States. Two Whelen plants totaling more than 783,000 square feet create the myriad parts and processes that distinguish a Whelen product. Two thousand actively-used injection molding tools manufacture the thousands of component parts needed daily. The electronics department builds all the circuit boards and electronic assemblies. Machined parts are produced in state-of-the-art automated machine shops located in Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Finishing processes include hard coating of lenses, powder coating, and metallizing. Quality control is maintained throughout the entire manufacturing and assembly process, and certified test labs on site facilitate product development and shorten lead times. This unique manufacturing initiative allows Whelen to respond to the needs of its customers, many of whom require "just in time" delivery in these challenging economic times. Walk through the Whelen plant, and you see in action the commitment of a company dedicated to strong and steady growth, strictly on American soil.

Design Team

With the largest staff of design engineers in the industry, Whelen has maintained a reputation of innovation, responsiveness to customer needs, and commitment to quality. A strong partnership with OEMs on new vehicle design and product integration plus stringent control across the manufacturing floor means products built for the long haul. Support continues with sales and service departments here in the United States and around the world and extensive factory training at the Whelen facility.

LED Evolution

The introduction of LED technology in 1996 may have caused the greatest impact on emergency lighting in recent years, although it was also quickly accepted. Solid state LED technology was suitable for the rough, day-to-day environs of emergency vehicles but it posed many challenges, even to Whelen's team of engineers to capture the intense bright light and harness it to satisfy the infinite sizes, requirements, and applications of the LED product line.

Four years ago, Whelen brought the benefits of LED technology to the white light market, replacing quartz halogen and HID lighting products. Along with compartment lighting, aviation landing lighting, and a full line of illuminating products, this led to developing the Pioneer™ and Pioneer Plus™ Series super-LED floodlights, spotlights, and work lights. With models from the tiny Nano™ three-diode work/scene light, up to Model PCP3 20,000-lumen combination flood and spotlight, Whelen offers a wide range of models to suit the needs of its customers.

There are also mounting options and pole assemblies to support them. Using the Pioneer Pole configurator, customers design the exact Pioneer product they require, including the mounting bracket and pole necessary. This built-to-order light is assembled at the plant, shipped complete, and ready to mount to the vehicle.

"Rotating" LED Lightbar

At the 2013 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), Whelen introduced the Rota-Beam™ family of products, including the Delta RS "rotating" solid state lightbar. These individual beacons and lightbars were developed in response to the fire market's continuing loyalty to the longer dwell time of the rotating beacon. Rota-Beam offers the sweep of the rotator but also provides all the long lasting, state-of-the-art benefits of LED lighting. There are no motors to wear out, no moving parts, and no noise.

From the original Rota-Beam invented by George Whelen more than 50 years ago, this product exemplifies the passion of a co

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Posted: Jun 4, 2013

Fleet Replacement Challenges Equal Opportunities

Brian Brown

A sound vehicle and maintenance replacement program is important to all government agencies of all sizes. Be it a volunteer, a combination, or a career department, reliable vehicles and equipment in appropriate working order are essential to providing all public services to communities in a professional and timely manner. Fire, EMS, wildland, aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF), and hazmat apparatus and equipment that break down frequently because of age or excessive use will lead to an interruption in service from the agency to the community.

Although a sound preventive maintenance program is a key component to managing a fleet, my last article covered the challenges we all deal with on a daily basis of keeping our fleet operations in the black or, as most of us say, "keeping our heads above water." Some of the key elements included shrinking budgets, economic downturns, and performing regularly scheduled preventive maintenance while doing more with less. In addition, I briefly covered the topic of managing aging fleets.

Now it's time to dig deeper and to be prepared to answer some tough questions when evaluating your fleet's overall replacement performance. Remember to know your fleet and run it like a business. The more you put into your fleet, the more your business responds to cost savings information, reduced downtime, operating cost, and overtime.

The goal of this article is not only to identify things that your department already does well, is already in the process of improving, or already recognizes needs to be improved, but to review the current and past practices of your department and make suitable recommendations for improvement going forward.

Validation

If your agency already has a fleet replacement plan in place or is willing to adopt/create one, it needs to be validated. Without a viable and comprehensive replacement program, managers will be unable to recognize apparatus and equipment replacement in a timely manner. The lack of basic replacement guidelines will cause them to overlook the optimum time at which apparatus needs to be replaced. What I have discovered is that the majority of the time this is an area that has been neglected by many departments and cities for many years. The support from upper management is vital to implementing a fleet replacement plan. Certainly, good working equipment contributes to positive employee morale. All of these factors combine to make a first class fleet operation and replacement program that fits well in the manager's tool kit.

Granted, the challenges we all face include shrinking revenues; budget cuts in the fleet and support areas; increased demand for service; increased state mandates; National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1911, Standard for the Inspection, Maintenance, Testing, and Retirement of In-Service Automotive Fire Apparatus, (2007 Ed.), mandating more annual testing; and an aging fleet requiring possible readjustments. Readjustments to the fleet throws in a nice twist as the units that were initially planned for replacement are now kept and reallocated in another division/bureau that "feels" it truly needs it. These units now experience increased maintenance costs, reduced resale value, and increased downtime.

Starting Point

To begin, at what age do you like to replace vehicles in your fleet? The fact that a vehicle has reached its replacement age or threshold doesn't mean it automatically gets replaced. Some wear out quicker than others, which may be a sign of the assignment, the intensity of use, and how the end users take care of the vehicle. However, some vehicles may need to be replaced sooner because of the extreme wear and tear-hence, the reason a comprehensive replacement program is instrumental in the budget planning process to determine specifically which units should be replaced. Such a process sets a guide

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Posted: Jun 4, 2013

In the Eye of the Beholder

Todd Rishling

Every year, rescue professionals are tasked with rescue and recovery efforts in aquatic environments. If the victim presents on the surface, a large part of the rescue/recovery effort is directed through visual sight. When the victim submerges, the rescue/recovery effort uses an entirely different approach. Most rescuers who work in the aquatic environment are well aware that visibility underwater is often limited. The diver must be methodical in the search effort. One step forward on the line tender's part or one bent arm from the diver during the sweep can lead to a "miss" of the object. Those simple alterations in a search pattern will miss the target, which then will give false confirmation to the area being searched. The question at the end of a dive should be, "Can we be 100 percent confident that the area we searched is clear of the object?" All too often, we can't be 100 percent confident in saying that we are 100 percent confident, simply because we really are not as divers. This article will talk about how to incorporate sonar operations during water rescue and recovery incidents. We will also discuss a few of the more common types of sonar units in my area.

a recovery operation conducted in Northern Illinois by MABAS Division 4/5 Sonar Team
(1) This is an image of a recovery operation conducted in Northern
Illinois by MABAS Division 4/5 Sonar Team. A "marker cage" has
been placed next to the body for reference as the Marine Sonics side-
scan sonar unit is towed in a parallel pattern, later to be cross
referenced by a perpendicular pattern. The image's detailed definition
allows for easier object identification.
(Photos by author.)

Sonar Usage

Using sonar technology in water rescue and recovery is not a new idea. In fact, for many years, some type of sonar device has been instrumental in high-profile drowning cases. Many of us have seen wrecks, underwater formations, and other objects on sonar images. Many of us have improvised and used a "fish finder," a drop single-beam sonar type of unit that has been around for years, as a recovery tool.

Some may ask, what is sonar? Sonar stands for sound navigation and ranging. There are two types of sonar technology-passive and active. Passive sonar is essentially listening for the sound made by vessels. Active sonar is emitting pulses of sounds and listening for echoes. Sonar is not new; it has been around since the 1490s, when Leonardo da Vinci placed a tube in water and could detect the sound of a passing vessel. From then on, the use of underwater detecting devices sprung forth, leading to the technology we have today. Worldwide use of sonar technology takes place in everyday activities such as oil drilling, environmental exploration, archeological detailing, and public safety.

For the purpose of this article, I will cover three devices used in my area and their implementation across the state of Illinois in the mutual aid box alarm system (MABAS) allocation and distribution system. I will highlight some of the success stories, evaluate the challenges, and look toward the future.

Kongsberg Sector Scan Sonar unit
(2) This image is from the Kongsberg Sector Scan Sonar unit. The search
was for a missing ice fisherman who fell through on a large lake the night
before. On the day the sonar team responded, it set up in an airboat and
traveled out to the last seen point. On the second drop of the sonar head
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10 Sep 2018 2018 FIRE MECHANICS FALL CONFERENCE 9/10/2018 - 9/14/2018
This year will feature classes to prepare you for F-1, F-2, F-3, F-4, F-5, F-6, F-7, F-8 as well as Jim Juneau "See You In Court", L&I Shop Safety, Cummins Insight, Basic Commercial Tire Service and more!

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September 11, 3pm-6pm
Wenatchee Convention Center 

Mark your calendar for this exciting vendor show at the Wenatchee Convention Center. 

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Fire Mechanics Section Board

Chair

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Chair

Elliot Courage
North Whatcom Fire & Rescue
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Vice Chair

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Vice Chair

Mike Smith 
Pierce County Fire District #5
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Secretary

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Secretary

Justin Claibourn
Central Pierce Fire & Rescue 
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Director #1

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #1

Loren Angiono 
City of Lynnwood
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Director #2

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #2

Paul Spencer 
Fire Fleet Maintenance LLC
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Director #3

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #3

Larry Elliott
Olympia Fire Department
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Director #4

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #4

Doug Jones
City of Redmond
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Director #6

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #6

Brett Annear
Kitsap County Fire District 18
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Director #5

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Director #5

Jay Jacks
Camano Island Fire & Rescue
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Legislative Representative

Posted: Oct 21, 2015

Legislative Representative

TBD
TBD
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Immediate Past Chair

Posted: Oct 20, 2015

Immediate Past Chair

Brian Fortner
Graham Fire & Rescue

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