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Exhaust system will improve health at fire station

By: Jefferson Weaver, The News Reporter

Whiteville firefighters will soon be able to breathe a lot easier, and take better care of their equipment.

Chief David Yergeau told the City Council at a recent meeting that after years of applying for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, Whiteville was recently approved for an Assistance to Firefighters grant.

“I think I’ve applied every year since I’ve been here,” Yergeau said.

The $67,143 grant requires a $3,357 match from the city, Yergeau said. The funds will be used for an exhaust capture system designed to prevent diesel exhaust and carbon monoxide from building up in the bays of the fire station. The system attaches directly to the exhaust pipes of fire apparatus, Yergeau said, and automatically comes on whenever an engine starts. The machine also captures any dust or other particles from fire trucks, preventing the material from being drawn into the truck’s intakes and causing maintenance problems.

The attachments are removed as the truck leaves the station, and are equipped with emergency breakways as a backup.

Several members of the city council specifically asked about the breakaway system. Council Tim Blackmon joked that response might be slowed down “if you were dragging the whole thing down the street.”

“We hope that by training we can avoid that,” Yergeau said, “but they are equipped with a breakway.”

The department will also receive a washer and dryer designed to clean firefighting uniforms and protective gear. The heavy uniforms can damage even commercial conventional appliances.

“This will help our firefighters take better care of their equipment and themselves,” Yergeau said.

The chief said he hopes to have the system installed by the end of the year.

Stuart Rogers