Taking Toxins Out of Apparatus Bays

Fire and EMS departments are well aware of the importance of removing toxic fumes from apparatus bays and have turned to a variety of vehicle exhaust systems to accomplish that task.
Fire and EMS departments are well aware of the importance of removing toxic fumes from apparatus bays and have turned to a variety of vehicle exhaust systems to accomplish that task. Vehicle exhaust system manufacturers explain the attributes of each system.
Air Cleaning Specialists Inc.

Air Cleaning Specialists Inc. is the maker of the Fume-A-Vent system, says Dan Schroeder, salesman for Fume-A-Vent, “a short capture, simple drop style system. A hose, typically 5 inches in diameter and 12 feet in length, hangs from ducts above the bays and drops to every exhaust,” Schroeder notes. “There are pressure sensors in the duct that kick on when the vehicle’s engine starts, and when the vehicle moves, the hose pulls tight and separates from the truck.”

Air Cleaning Specialists Inc. makes the Fume-A-Vent vehicle exhaust removal system for fire and EMS stations.

 Air Cleaning Specialists Inc. makes the Fume-A-Vent vehicle exhaust removal system for fire and EMS stations. (Photo 1 courtesy of Air Cleaning Specialists Inc.)

Schroeder notes that Air Cleaning Specialists does a full design of a Fume-A-Vent system, including all the overhead ductwork and the exhaust fan that is installed either through a sidewall or the roof. “We mostly put the fan outside the station because many of the larger units can be quite loud,” he says. “The size of the fan needed will depend on the number of hoses that are hanging from the ductwork.”

Other pieces of the Fume-A-Vent system include tailpipe adapters, pressure sensors, and a control panel that relays a 24-volt signal to turn on the fan. “The fan is activated when an engine is started, which also starts a timer on the unit, usually set for three minutes to clear the air in the bay,” Schroeder says. “However, if the vehicle is still in the bay, like for maintenance work, and is still running after three minutes, the system will kick back on. The control unit also has a manual override.” Other system components, he adds, include ropes, pulleys, and cable balancers to lift the hoses and allow them to be moved around the building and attached to a different vehicle.

Air Technology Solutions

Daniel Orto, president of Air Technology Solutions, says his company is the master sales distributor in the United States for the AirMATION® ceiling hung multi-filter air filtration system. “AirMATION AMB-302GM is powered by a 3,000-cubic-feet-per-minute direct drive blower that pulls, directs, and removes diesel exhaust fumes, soot, and gases through a highly effective filtration system,” Orto points out. “The clean, purified air is then recirculated from the unit back into the fire station.” AirMATION meets and exceeds Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Fire Protection Association, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Environmental Protection Agency, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and Canadian Standards Association guidelines.

Air Technology Solutions installed this AirMATION ceiling-hung multi-filter air filtration system in this Jeffersonville (IN) Fire Department station.

 Air Technology Solutions installed this AirMATION ceiling-hung multi-filter air filtration system in this Jeffersonville (IN) Fire Department station. (Photo 2 courtesy of Air Technology Solutions.)

Orto notes that AirMATION uses a series of three filters to clean the air running through the unit. “The first is a 24- × 24- × 4-inch MERV-8 filter,” he says, “that leads the air to a 24- × 24- × 12-inch MERV-16 filter and then a 24- × 24- × 12-inch carbon blend filter. The average time to change the pre-filter is every six months, while the second and third filters are changed every one to two years, depending on the number of runs the department makes.” Orto says that Air Technology Solutions also offers the MICROCON CD, a ceiling-mounted air filtration system specifically designed for removing both airborne pollutants and gaseous contaminants from indoor environments. He observes, “Some departments have chosen to use the MICRON CD in their turnout gear rooms to filter off-gassing from personal protective equipment.”

Air Vacuum Corp.

John Koris, co-founder and national sales manager of Air Vacuum Corp., notes his company has been making the AIRVAC 911® Engine Exhaust System for 26 years. “It’s a fully automatic system, ceiling hung, with no connections to the apparatus and no obstruction on the floor,” Koris says. “The unit starts when it gets an automatic activation signal when any door moves, and we back that up with a photo beam across the bay doors. We also can put starters on the vehicles so when the driver turns the key, the system automatically kicks on. In addition, we have a manual option on the control panel and also a zone option for a large station where you might have fire apparatus in one area and emergency medical services rigs in another.”

The Minoa (NY) Fire Department chose Air Vacuum Corporation’s AIRVAC 911 engine exhaust system for its apparatus bays.

 The Minoa (NY) Fire Department chose Air Vacuum Corporation’s AIRVAC 911 engine exhaust system for its apparatus bays. (Photo 3 courtesy of Air Vacuum Corp.)

Koris says the AIRVAC 911 uses a four-stage filter pack, consisting of a 24- × 24- × 1-inch three-ply polyester UL class 2 filter, a 24- × 24- × 6-inch HEPA MAX 3000 high-efficiency particulate air filter classified to UL class 2 and MERV-16, and a two-stage gas-phase extractor using a 24- × 24- × 4-inch MULTISORB 3000 blended gas phase extractor. “The unit is based on industry standards calling for a minimum of four to six air changes per hour,” Koris says, “based on the cubic footage of the space to be filtered. There are no intrusions on the walls or ceilings of the station because everything goes through the filter pack itself. Typically, the unit will run through a 15-minute cycle to remove all the gases, exhausts, particulates, and contaminants in the apparatus bays.”

MagneGrip Group

Jack Rossman, chief operating officer of Clean Air Concepts/MagneGrip Group, says that the company has been making the MagneGrip source capture hose system for over 25 years. The MagneGrip system uses a magnetic nozzle that attaches to the tailpipe of the vehicle and exhausts 100% of the contaminant outside the building. The system fan activates automatically when the vehicle starts, and the source capture hose follows the vehicle to the exiting door where the nozzle automatically disconnects from the tailpipe. The fan is deactivated by a control panel for auto start and stop of the system.

MagneGrip Group installed this MagneGrip hose capture system in this Central Campbell County (KY) Fire Department station.

 MagneGrip Group installed this MagneGrip hose capture system in this Central Campbell County (KY) Fire Department station. (Photos 4-5 courtesy of MagneGrip Group.)

MagneGrip provides a 100% seal at the tailpipe, made possible by the company’s patented check valve that prevents backwash of exhaust fumes from the hose system. This seal protects fire personnel from the hazards of vehicle exhaust fumes and meets NIOSH recommendations as well as mechanical and building codes. The MagneGrip nozzle and tailpipe adapter design also allows for ambient air introduction into the system to cool down hot exhaust fumes as they enter the hose. This, along with other features, extends the life of the hose and reduces maintenance costs.

The Oxford (MI) Fire Department had MagneGrip Group install an AirHAWK 3000 LX ceiling-mounted filtration unit in its station.

 The Oxford (MI) Fire Department had MagneGrip Group install an AirHAWK 3000 LX ceiling-mounted filtration unit in its station.

Clean Air Concepts also manufactures AirHAWK air cleaners specifically designed for vehicle exhaust removal (volatile organic compounds) in the apparatus bay area. The four-stage ceiling-mounted filtration system incorporates a 24- × 24- × 4-inch Merv 11 prefilter for smaller particles, a Merv 16 HEPA type filter for smaller respirable type particles, a specially designed charcoal filter for fume and odor control, and the company’s PCO Photo-Catalytic Oxidizer for added fume control and germicidal protection. The system is suitable for areas where hoses are not desired or room does not allow for hoses between vehicles. Smaller units are also available for turnout gear rooms to control turnout gear offgassing. Units can also be used in living quarters for particulate collection and germicidal protection.


ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.

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