Monday, April 2, 2012

Something I Never Thought I'd See

There are a few things that I never thought I'd see at my agency. Either for budgetary or philosophical reasons, there are several pieces of equipment that I was really surprised  when they showed up.

This sweet little unit was placed in service last week. Although I no longer will have any use for most of it's features, there are a couple of items on it that I may someday get to use.

 Meet Breathing Support 5. It was purchased through a grant and is assigned to Sta. #5, which covers the north-central part of the city, including the airport. I am not sure all of the reasons why it was placed there, but as an engine (3 persons) and a squad (2 persons) are assigned there and it is toward the center of town it seems like a good spot for it. That there is adequate room at 5's was likely a consideration as well. The S.O.P. for it's response hasn't been developed yet, I am sure one is on the way.

Bottles are filled at the rear of the unit, from a protected filling station.

The filling station can fill 4 bottles at a time, from a four tank cascade system. The cascade tanks are kept full by the on-board compressor.

How we have handled the filling and/or the exchange of air cylinders on scene has always been a little sketchy. All of our engines carry a spare bottle for each SCBA on the unit, as do the squads. Each truck company carries an minimum of 12 extra bottles, some more. The haz-mat unit and heavy rescue carry spare cylinders as well, though I am unsure how many. 

As we send 2 engines, 2 trucks and a squad as a first alarm assignment to a structure fire, we should have at least 34 spare cylinders on scene. That is usually enough, though when conducting extended operations it may not be.

Our primary method of filling cylinders is by a compressor located at station 3. If a need for additional cylinders arose, someone at 3's would load up a cache of filled cylinders into the utility truck and haul them to the scene. There, the cylinders would be swapped out for the empties and the empties would be hauled back to 3's where they would be filled. Additional trips could be made as required.

The department also owns a breathing compressor which is mounted on a trailer. The trailer was kept at station 12, located in the south west corner of the city. Theoretically, the trailer could be hooked up to utility 12 and hauled out to an incident. That takes time, was kind of a pain and was rarely done.

As I said as before, the SOP for this isn't out yet, but it's refilling capacity and it's myriad of functions leads me to believe it will be used quite a bit.

BS-5 is also a lighting unit, with a large generator and two masts. Each mast has four quartz lights and two large area floods. Each mast has its own remote controller, which allow the light to be moved over a large area. In addition, there are two additional quartz floods mounted in the side of the unit. These are to light the area next to the unit. 

I haven't seen the lights operate at night yet, but I am told that it is impressive.  Trust me, when I get to see the unit light up the world, you'll get to see the unit light up the world.

The unit is also designed to handle re-hab functions as well. Out here in the land of the dirt people, heat is our biggest environmental enemy. That and spicy food. BS-5 can handle both.

This is the re-hab area, which can hold 5 or 6 people. I am told that the A/C works well enough to allow meat to be safely stored in there if needed. On the rare occasion where cold weather is a problem, the re-hab space can be heated to a comfortable  level. 

When I first saw these units, I thought that they were ordinary gas powered blowers. To my delight, I discovered that they are actually misting fans, to be used to cool outside areas.

These will come in handy during the hot summer months, there are times that one would give anything to get cool, even for only a few minutes. If these keep one firefighter from going to the hospital due to heat exhaustion, they will have been a good investment. 

This feature really surprised me.


This is one of those items that I have only really needed two or three times over the years, but when I needed it, I needed it.  Those all-night fires on Tuesday night (after the famousTaco Tuesday taco feed) can bring discomfort, especially when no head is available. I have hijacked an investigator's car and have had the squaddies give me a lift to the nearest station when nature called while on a long incident. I can assure you that I am not the only one that this has happened to.

Maybe this will prevent the dreaded "black ring around Uranus" that occurs when one drops a deuce in a soot covered  terlet. Trust me, this capability is a good thing!

Had the UASI grant not paid for this unit, I doubt it would have been purchased. The funding just would not have been there to do it.  It fills a need, and as one old salt engineer commented "this unit is here strictly for us".

Thanks for reading,




  1. That's a pretty slick unit. Looks like a lot of thought went into it.

    We have two Command Lights similar to yours on our heavy rescue - they do indeed light up the world. Also, I have toilet envy. :)

  2. NYEMT - I can't wait to see it at night, I may just have to pop in when a friend is working some evening and have him fire it up.

    I don't think that head will get used often, but it will be appreciated when it does.

    Thanks for the comment

  3. The Providence Canteen guys have a head in their newest unit. It's a godsend. Nice rig!

  4. Mack 505 - I don't know how the Providence canteen is funded, but they must do OK. I'm just guessin' that these rigs aren't cheap.

    Regardless a good resource to have, I'm sure the crews are grateful.

    Thanks for the comment.