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Lansing Fire Department

One of the problems with fire engines is that their diesel engines often have to be running inside the bays.  That poses a health problem for firefighters as they perform maintenance and checks on the large trucks.  Lansing Deputy Fire Chief Brad George presented two types of filtering systems to the Fire Commissioners Tuesday.  One would be installed in the fire station bays, with hoses running from the bay ceiling that clamp onto the exhaust pipes of trucks. The other installs on the trucks themselves to be come an in-line piece of the exhaust systems.

"They're two totally different systems" George said. "The one is the Plymovent system, the one where the actual hose and the fan and the exhaust and all that.  The Ward No Smoke is a filter system that actually goes on the diesel exhaust."

George said that the quote for the Plymovent system is $163,264, which would cover every vehicle the District owns in Central Station.  The Ward No Smoke system would cost $69,912 to install eight filters on the eight large apparatus trucks the District owns.  He said that Ward makes filters for gasoline engine vehicles as well, but the main focus of various organizations is the threat of inhaling diesel fumes.  He added that the Plymovent system woould not be a good fit for the Lansing department.

"I don't think that system would really be applicable for our department, in order to get the most benefit out of it because our outlying stations that are back-in stations and typically those trucks only have one person on them. It's would just be too hard for the individual to hook that whole system up to get the full benefit of the diesel exhaust removal."

Studies have found that toxic diesel fumes may increase the risk of developing asthma, heart and lung disease, brain issues, and immune system diseases such as AIDS.  The most dangerous substances in diesel exhaust are particulate matter, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, organic compounds, and a number of hazardous gases.  While most people breathe diesel fumes to some extent, firefighters are exposed more because they operate the big trucks, including in enclosed spaces such as fire station bays.

"This is for the health of your firefighters," said District Treasurer George Gesslein.

There are no federal or state requirements to filter emissions from diesel fire trucks, but Commissioners said that regulations will likely be forthcoming from state and federal agencies.  They said installing the filters now would be a proactive step, as well as being better for the health of Lansing's volunteer emergency responders.  The Environmental Protection Agency, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and United States Fire Administration's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program all recommend filtering diesel emissions in their guidelines.

George said that the No Smoke filters are good for two to five years,  And he said they could be removed when a truck is sold.

"They do have a buy back system, like so you put one on say whatever truck, five years down the road you decided to sell that truck to get a new one," George said. "Then they take that system back, give you some sort of credit and then build you and then want it."

"It might be a good sale point too when they decided to sell the trucks," said Fire Commission Chair Robert Wagner.

Gesslein says the district has money to cover the cost of the filters if the commissioners choose to purchase them.  George said the estimates are good until the end of this year, so ordering before December 31 would lock in the current pricing.  he said the department wouldn't actually be billed until the systems are installed. 

But George said was not ready to recommend a filter system  Tuesday.  He said he would make some calls to make sure that the No Smoke filters would work well for the Lansing department, and that he would come back with a recommendation at the next Fire Commissioners meeting.

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