09/25/08 32 W - + 12 - 7 North Carolina Paramedics Have Trouble Finding Gas

From WSOC-TV by way of Firehouse.com, here's a Gaston County perspective on the fuel shortages that are happening around the state. Read the article.

It is crazy how people are acting when it comes to fuel in this area. Trucks are coming in from TN and SC to supply stations in the Charlotte area because when they get fuel at 5am, it is gone by (no later than 10am)!! I got back into town today and passed 4 gas stations all with at least 75 cars backed up into the road with only a few pumps operating. All of this for, well… no one really knows. Some blame the media for hyping the situation up, some blame other drivers for going “crazy” and filling up when they don’t need to, and some blame the gas stations. People getting into fights in line, gas stations refusing to open to avoid the problems, everyone else having to deal with the traffic problems, and police getting tied up directing traffic at these gas stations. Police are having to fill up at city Fire Stations during shift change, MEDIC has their own pumps, and I’m not really sure why Gaston EMS doesn’t have their own pumps.

When Hurricane Ike actually hit TX CMPD was still able to find gas stations that would, A. have fuel and B. take fuelman/fuelman system was up and operating. There were actually some gas stations saving fuel for “Public Safety” personnel only during that time. Not sure what happened this time, I don’t think anyone knows! I’m sure this inital story didn’t help, “Drivers around Charlotte lined up at gas pumps Tuesday night, but no drivers could explain why to Eyewitness News..”

No problems with gas while I was in the Thomasville/High Point area this week.
Luke - 09/26/08 - 01:03

Today’s N&O offers a perspective, http://www.newsobserver.com/662/story/12..
Legeros - 09/26/08 - 06:40

A lot of agencies (government-based and others) do not maintain their own pumps anymore. Part of it had to do with liability issues related to tanks leaking. Part of it had to do with ‘new management philosophy’ that sought to discard ‘expensive’ infrastructure (It was deemed too expensive to maintain the pumps, tanks, etc., or being able to embrace technology (for record keeping purposes) without the investment. At any rate, many agencies (EMS, FD, and LE) do not have their own pumps.

And it doesn’t matter where your politics and/or social beliefs stand; I think this may be a sign of things to come. I can see the day in the not too distant future that the way we do business, whether it is EMS, FD, and LE, is seriously changed in the name of fuel economy.
DJ (Email) - 09/26/08 - 08:12

...a good thought exercise. Imagine your fire, police, or EMS agency can respond only 75% or 50% of the time. Now, which calls do you answer?
It makes - 09/26/08 - 08:34

I don’t think it will go that far, but I do see that non-response activities will be curtailed. And I can see ‘non-essential’ travel being cut back, as well. Think about it- most emergency vehicles do not get good gas mileage. Fire trucks get what, gas ‘yardage’? Ambulances are in the 6-15 mpg range (and the idling for the radios, computers, and climate control for the drugs pulls that down further). And what about the Crown Vics, Chargers, and SUVs that a lot of LE agencies use?

It could be that smaller, more efficient emergency vehicles are in our future. Maybe European designs that seem to be more efficient. I don’t think you see many 1,500 – 2,000 GPM engines/pumpers over there, nor do you see huge ‘quints’. But then they don’t seem to have the staffing issues- I see pictures with four and five member pumper crews.

Maybe the days of the ‘big American’ ambulances are coming to an end. That will require a rethinking of what we carry and how we operate. Check out Flickr and search for ambulances. The European units are easy to spot (literally) with their safety oriented paint schemes. If you look you see smaller chassis ambulances, even some on Mercedes and Volvo CAR chassis. That’s our future, folks.

And the LE cars all look to be 4-cylinder, maybe 6. And a lot more motorcycles, too.

Think about this as the way of the future- fire trucks stay in the station except for calls (this will change the way FDs train, eat, and interact with the community), LEOs assigned to more stationary duties or much smaller cars (Dodge Avengers, Chevy Malibus, and Honda Elements) and more motorcylcles (with prisoner transport in specially assigned Sprinter vans, not the patrol cars), ambulances with a mandate to not bypass the closest appropriate hospital or to transport to the nearest appropriate hospital always.

The times are changing and the writing is on the proverbial wall. We have to meet these changes and that will mean getting away from our comfort zones (big fire trucks, big ambulances, big police cars). We have to be viewed as proactive. If we don’t meet the changes, then we will become irrelevant and someone else will replace us.

And if you want to see a good example of irrevalency, check out the admirals in charge of the battleships on the afternoon of 12/07/1941. The world changed before that day, they just were not paying attention.
DJ (Email) - 09/26/08 - 10:16

Here’s a sci-fi scenario for you. Imagine drastically reduced resources for firefighting. Say, nearly no fuel. Or super-inflated operational costs. How would a community then protect itself against fire? First, I guess, you would compel citizens to minimize fire risk. First perhaps charging fines for all fire responses. Then, perhaps fining for any uncontrolled fire on private property. Make the fine large enough and people would start thinking about those candles, that unattended cooking, and so forth. On the operational front, with working fires, I guess departments would pump less. Once search and rescue was done, switch to defensive mode and let it burn, with only exposures addressed? And no idling apparatus between pumping? Perhaps demolition would return as a solution, with a burning structure imploded to prevent its spreading. Heck, take a cue from wildfire control and physical exposure control could become the new norm. Revised construction codes no longer permitting structures so close, for starters. Wider streets in new communities. Large brick fire walls erected on property lines, perhaps. And you can go on, imagination running wild. Cast Mel Gibson in the movie version.
Legeros - 09/26/08 - 19:19

Well…on the positive side, that could solve the parking problems in Raleigh (and Apex).
DJ (Email) - 09/26/08 - 21:14

Hey DJ. Your ideas are very good. For me, whoīs living on the other side of the atlantic ocean – Germany – these discussions are always very interesting.
The gas price here is higher than yours. Ok, we have liter, you have gallons. But when Iīm right in maths, our actual gas price is 8,27 $ a gallon! And yes, we have more efficient ambulances and fire trucks. But we donīt carry less things with us. I could see when I visited Wake EMS.
When my wifeīs relatives were here in Germany last June we found out that a Yukon XL needs as much gas as a bus of the city here. Our ambulances need around 3,5 gallons for 63 miles.
If youīre interested in more details or pictures of cars and equipment, post it here.
Dennis (Email) - 09/27/08 - 11:35

Thanks, Dennis. I was over on your side of the pond many years ago, and I was amazed at the differences. Of all the fire appratus, ambulances, and police vehicles, there was not a V8 amongst them.

You mention what is carried about the same complement of gear on your ambulances. Does that include protective clothing (similar to firefighter turnouts) and other PPE (chemical suits, boots, gloves, etc.)? I have noticed that our ambulances tend to have more external storage space.

And what is the average pump size for pumpers ‘over there’?
DJ (Web Site) - 09/27/08 - 12:14

Yes, we also have protective clothing. We have to wear the “heavy” boots the whole day. The pants are like your regular pants. Jackets and helmets are stored in the ambulance. We donīt have chemical suits, thatīs part of the fire dept. But of yourse we have special suits for infectious transports like meningitis, tuberculosis, etc.
Some of the ambulances in Germany have th same storage space like yours. Thatīs different from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The average pump size is 423 gpm, with the possibility to work with a very high pressure (80 bars in Germany, but I donīt know what it is in psi). The “heavy” pumpers have a 634 gpm pump. And thatīs enough.
The average pumper has a cabin with 6 seats, the engines have 9 seats. But most time the crew has 6 members, also the engine crew.
Dennis (Email) - 09/28/08 - 05:51

Google yields a great article from Fire Engineering on US versus Euro fire apparatus: http://www.fireengineering.com/display_a..
Legeros - 09/28/08 - 06:32

This is really a great article
Dennis (Email) - 09/28/08 - 11:09

There is a really good metric calculator at http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.ht... 80 bars is over 1,100 psi (reminds me of the old John Bean high pressure units). Me personally, for years, I have thought that we were buying more pump than we needed, and that anything over 1,000 gpm (3,800 lpm) was sort of a waste of expense, but that’s just me.
DJ (Email) - 09/28/08 - 15:50

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