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  • Compressor for vehicle brake systems

    Our architects just asked me about the need to have a separate compressor from the SCBA compressor to supply shore connections for the vehicle systems. The idea came from the manufacturer of the SCBA compressor. I am curious what other stations have. Of the stations I am familar with, they are two separate systems. And given the cost of an SCBA compressor, compared to a typical shop compressor, I am not sure how much I would want to run it to supply vehicles.

  • #2
    My experience is that you run seperate systems.

    Our reasoning behind this is that the SCBA system when being used to recharge cylinders, takes away from the available volume to supply apparatus, or vice versa, depending on how you have it set up. This may make it redundant to have the SCBA system connected to anything else for that matter.

    You are also running different pressures for each system. You 'could' throw in an in-line regulator to the trucks.

    The cost of an SCBA charging system is considerably higher than your shop compressor. Why put any increased demand on such an expensive system? Leave it for it's intended purpose only, which will serve to expand it's servicable life.

    For best practice I would recommend two seperate systems.
    "You see things and you ask, 'Why'? I dream of things that never were and I say, 'Why not'?

    "I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place."

    "When you are kind to someone in trouble, you hope they'll remember and be kind to someone else. And it'll become like a wildfire."

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    • #3
      Every station has a separate compressor that supplies the Plymovent and any air hose connections around the bays. Luckily, we only have a couple older apparatus that need to be hooked up to an air hose in order to maintain air pressure.

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      • #4
        That was my feeling on the issue as well. This question was posed by the SCBA compressor manufacturer to our architect, who passed it on to me. I just wanted to run the idea up the flagpole and see if anyone would salute it, before I turned it down.

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        • #5
          Well........

          No Salute here....... If you use a SCBA Fill Station compressor to maintain pressure on your vehicle systems, and a Pressure Control device designed to keep the Brake Pressure in check happens to Fail, You've just Pressurized your Brake System to 6,000 Lbs PSI....... I can see parts flying all over the neighborhood........ Using a SCBA Compressor to do Brake Charging is like pushing a Wheelbarrow with a Locomotive. I wouldn't consider it...
          Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
          In memory of
          Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
          Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

          IACOJ Budget Analyst

          I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

          www.gdvfd18.com

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          • #6
            On my old department, we used the regular compressed air system in the station, the same one we would use to air up tires, etc.

            It worked, but I would caution one thing. On the rigs that didn't move much (i.e. our aerial, that saw daylight only a handfull of times a year) we would have trouble with the airbrakes freezing up almost every time we took them out and the temperature was below freezing. The trucks' systems have an air dryer on them, but they were getting moist air from the station system.

            I would only use the station system if some type of built-in air dryer can incorporated into the system before the air reaches the trucks.

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            • #7
              Absolutely..........

              Originally posted by HuskerMedic View Post

              I would only use the station system if some type of built-in air dryer can incorporated into the system before the air reaches the trucks.

              I totally missed that. Thanks.
              Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
              In memory of
              Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
              Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

              IACOJ Budget Analyst

              I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

              www.gdvfd18.com

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              • #8
                Compressor selection is also key, I wouldn't buy some cheap fly by night compressor, buy something decent that you can get parts for. Down the road it will pay off!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mcwops View Post
                  That was my feeling on the issue as well. This question was posed by the SCBA compressor manufacturer to our architect, who passed it on to me. I just wanted to run the idea up the flagpole and see if anyone would salute it, before I turned it down.
                  That kind of concerns me about the knowledge of the SCBA compressor manufacturer (if it truly came from there...) I'd consider changing who supplies the SCBA compressor...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A standard service station type air compressor, with a good filter/dryer is what's in order for airing up tires, maintaining truck system pressures, shop tool air, etc. It might be possible to tap into your SCBA compressor, but that has problems, too. You would have to connect ahead of the filtration system, or put considerably more hours on your filters. I don't know what the SCFM of an SCBA compressor is, but I don't think it's what a service station compressor is. I have to wonder if the system supplier/servicer would be very keen on that one.

                    Someone else suggested staying away from el cheapo compressors. I wholeheartedly agree. Been there, done that. However good compressors (and tanks) aren't cheap.

                    What we did - we went to a service station equipment dealer and lucked into a used one that had been taken in trade when the shop upgraded to something even bigger. Got a decent price on it, and it's been in our firehouse for going on 15 years now.

                    Another idea, keep an eye on newspapers, trade publications, etc. for auctions or sales of places that are closing. Sometimes you can pick up some really good buys there.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by medic190 View Post
                      That kind of concerns me about the knowledge of the SCBA compressor manufacturer (if it truly came from there...) I'd consider changing who supplies the SCBA compressor...
                      Not sure I should give the name of the manufacturer at this point, but they were one of the top recommended companies (even in several threads in this forum). My thoughts is they wanted us to wear out our compressor quicker so they could hit us on the replacement

                      We are spec'ed to get a good quality shop compressor with an air dryer built into the system, to avoid the problems mentioned.

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                      • #12
                        Extremely bad idea to use a very expensive SCBA compressor for anything else than SCBA bottles. You'll wear it out faster, and maintenance and filters are not cheap.

                        I'll also agree with Harve on a possible regulator or other part failure. Bad news if the rig sees 4,500-6,000 psi.

                        Good used professional type compressors are pretty easy to come by. But you need to make sure it has a decent mounted cooler and drier system on it. The last thing you need is to add moisture to the tanks and cans, and have them corrode from the inside out, or rust enough to freeze up any parts.

                        I've built a drier system for one station using the AD9 and governor that is used directly on the rigs. Desiccant filter is replaced yearly, with no problems.

                        FM1
                        I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

                        Originally posted by EastKyFF
                        "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

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                        • #13
                          As a compressor service tech, I also would not reccomend using a breathing air compressor for truck air. I do, however , have a customer who uses his breathing air compressor to supply his Plymovent system as well as his truck air. Been that way for years with no issues.

                          I'm not in agreement with the argument of "wearing out the compressor quicker: Compressors will last longer, and be more trouble-free if they are run more frequently, rather than less. One major compressor builder actually required that the machine be run 1 hour per week to maintain warranty coverage. Most machines I see are not run nearly enough. And as far as using up filters - most machines I see hit their 6-month filter life before they exceed their filter hours.

                          (One of my customers has a 15-year-old machine with only 60 hours on it)

                          Just my 2 cents. If you can afford a breathing air compressor, you should be able to swing a shop compressor.

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                          • #14
                            On the one hand, it makes perfect sense - why have two similar pieces of equipment to maintain when one can do the job?

                            At least to someone for whom a compressor is a compressor (like an architect).

                            On the other hand, there's all the points that everyone else has made.

                            Somehow I just can't justify using grade "D" or "E" air in the tires...
                            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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                            • #15
                              Like I said before, I thought it was a pretty lame idea. I just thought I should see what other stations are doing before dismissing it.

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