ASK ERNIE - Spring 2011

Our ... Go To Guy

CarolinaFireJournal -

04/29/2011 -

“Ask Ernie” is a meeting place for “You” our readers, who have questions about vehicles / apparatus and safety concerns. We have a well trained board of technicians (members of EVT TechTalk) to field questions as they come in.

Eventually “Ask Ernie” will add sections which can include equipment and the challenges you face. This means the answers can come from the person who created the part or a particular brand of vehicle.

We want to hear from you!  To submit your questions for Ernie, e-mail: [email protected].



How can I get rid of black algae in my fuel tank.  What causes it and how can I prevent it? 

The algae is caused by water intrusion into the tank.  If extensive, the fuel tank must be removed and steam cleaned.   A local radiator shop is well suited for this cleanout.  If the algae is not  extensive, you can induce an algaecide into the tank.  Once done, it will break up the algae and send it to the filters.  Expect the fuel to appear cloudy or dirty once the algaecide is introduced into the tank.  You will have to replace many filters before the algae is eliminated.  A routine  use of the algaecide is recommended.  Your fuel supplier can add the product for underground tanks as well.

How often should I service my fire truck?

All mechanical components of the apparatus must be maintained, at a minimum, to the standards set forth by the manufacturer of the  apparatus or the individual components that make up the chassis.  More stringent schedules may be in force at the local agency repair/maintenance facilities

When should I allow my firemen to perform maintenance?

Routine maintenance may be performed by any properly trained person with the knowledge and capability to perform that task.  Brake adjustment and repair is a specialized item that requires ONLY a certified brake technician do the work.  CFR (Code of Federal Regulation ) 396.25

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a service agreement? 

If you do not have a local repair facility, it is to your best interest to have a service agreement.

How often and what is the proper way to backflush my truck?

If it is determined that a backflush is needed, there are many options. The one I like is to set up near a hydrant, pump the tank dry.  Remove all caps from suctions and discharges and open at  one LH (driver side) discharge and open both suction steamers.  Connect a 2.5” line from the hydrant to any the open discharge and slowly open and close the hydrant.  Close that 2.5” discharge.  Connect the 2.5’ hose to any RH (Passenger) side discharge, open that discharge valve and do the same.  If the pump is a two stage pump, this is the time to exercise the transfer valve back and forth to clean out those passages while water is flowing through the pump.  Reinstall all caps and refill the tank through normal procedures.  Do not exceed 50 PSI hydrant pressure to flow through the pump.   More than backflushing, change of stagnant water in the tank and pump is critical.  Clean water in the tank and pump will greatly decrease electrolytic action (electrolysis) of the metal components of the pump, tank and plumbing.

When should I see a qualified technician to perform maintenance on my truck?

Any item that is beyond the capability or scope of operations by the engineer requires a knowledgeable and hopefully a certified emergency vehicle technician (EVT)

What do you need to know about the bidding process?

This is a question that requires a full day of training to give a quality answer.  The items to discuss are long. (Look for an in-depth article on the bidding process in the Summer 2011 issue.)

What's YOUR question?  Email [email protected]!

Answers by: Members of EVT TechTalk and NCFMA.

"Ask Ernie" drawing by Paul Combs — Illustrator/Fire Engineering Cartoonist.

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Welcome to the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal! We want to provide you with timely online information and breaking news that best equips you to meet today’s emergency challenges. Among our firefighting articles, you will find the latest in firefighter technology, firefighter training, leadership development and the newest products and services presented in an “Act Now” user friendly format.  We want to be your best online source for the fire and rescue information, resources and reviews you need.
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