NORTH OLMSTED

The city’s fire department is looking to clear the air.

Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen, and in order to combat its spread at fire stations No. 1 and No. 2, Chief Edward Schepp and his department are applying for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to pay for two exhaust removal systems for its vehicles.

The two systems would cost a total of $110,000, with the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant covering 90%. The city would be responsible for the other 10%. Since the city doesn’t have the full cost available in its budget, the department won’t be able to add the two units without a successful grant application.

“We’ve always looked at doing something,” Schepp said. “It’s something we’re trying to accommodate on a yearly basis. In the past all we’ve done is open up the bay doors and let the cross-ventilation blow it out. We have the ability to apply for a grant, so we’re going to go for it.”

Removing diesel exhaust from the fire stations has remained a high priority for Schepp. Along with its status as a cancer-causing agent, it also can have an impact on heart disease and other health issues that are common in the firefighting profession. At the North Olmsted stations, living quarters such as offices, kitchens and sleeping areas, are located adjacent to the vehicle bays.

“If there’s something we can do to help keep our firefighters safer and healthier, we’re going to do it,” Schepp said.

The grant application is due at the end of this month, with money awarded by the spring. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is very competitive, with departments across the country applying for funds. Applications are peer-reviewed.

In years past, the NOFD has been awarded grant funds through the AFG program, such as in 2015 when it received $12,487 toward operations and safety.

This time, grant money would be used for a pair of exhaust removal systems that attach to department vehicles via a series of piping and tubes when they’re parked in the station bays. When the vehicle is started and exhaust is generated, the system captures the exhaust and ventilates it outside of the building.

According to Schepp, the piping is kept in place by a series of magnets, so that when a vehicle backs into the station, a firefighter can attach the apparatus to the vehicle and trap the exhaust. As a vehicle pulls out of the station, the magnets pop off on their own and the tubing retracts to a starting position. Computerized, the exhaust systems can also track usage.

Contact this reporter at cvoloschuk@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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