By this spring, many York firefighters should be able to breathe a little easier. Last week, York City Council approved funding for the first diesel exhaust system to be installed at one of York’s four fire stations. The system, which will cost about $56,000, will be placed at the city’s Vigilant Fire Station on West Market Street to ventilate the diesel exhaust discharged from fire trucks. The exhaust is released indoors as firefighters conduct checks on the trucks and drive them in and out of the station.
Without the system, diesel exhaust is pumped into the air, coating indoor walls, gear and firefighters with diesel soot, said Deputy Chief David Michaels, who has been organizing the purchase for the department. A study, conducted by Public Safety Solutions last year, recommended installing the ventilation systems at all city fire stations.
Vigilant, which is the newest of the city’s stations, will be the first to receive the ventilation system because it is the largest and most expensive, Michaels said. Vigilant has three bays and holds the most apparatus, he said.
But none of the city’s fire stations are properly ventilated. At least two were built to house horse-drawn fire apparatus, and even Vigilant, which was erected in 1974, was built before exhaust was a major concern, Michaels said. Officials plan to install one exhaust system each year if the city budget allows.
The systems are long overdue, Michaels said.
“This is going to be a huge safety improvement,” he said. “We’ve been trying for years to do this, and things just fell into place for us.”
The system, which will be installed in phases, will have hoses suspended from the ceiling that can be hooked to the exhaust pipe of each truck before it is backed into the station. A series of fans will vent the exhaust outside and, when trucks leave the station, the hoses will automatically let go of the truck.
The installation should be completed by April, Michaels said.
How old are they?
York has four active fire stations, none of which have ventilation systems. At least two were built for horse-drawn fire apparatus.
Station 1 Rex/Laurel, at 49 S. Duke St., was built in 1878. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Station 2 Vigilant, at 273 W. Market St., was built in 1974.
Station 5 Goodwill, at 833 E. Market St., was built in 1903.
Station 9 Lincoln, at 800 Roosevelt Ave., was built in 1946.