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Monday, June 10, 2013

Station Life: Why are the Firetrucks Plugged In?

One question frequently posed to firefighters by a visitor to the fire station is “Why are your trucks plugged in?”
Modern fire engines come equipped with various electronics. Many of these electronics are required to stay operational when the truck has been shut down.  Even smaller fire department vehicles, like Car 3, are equipped with numerous electronic devices, such as laptops and GPS units.

While these electronics serve a vital role in the modern fire service, they take electricity to run just like any other device. Fire engines have large banks of batteries in them and can handle sitting for several hours without needing to be charged, but plugging them in eliminates the need to periodically send someone to start the apparatus up.

Externally, the charging units, known as a ‘Kussmaul’, are composed of only a few parts; the plug, the receptacle and the charge indicator. When the truck is started, the plug is automatically ejected and the vehicle is immediately ready to drive away.

Should the auto ejection feature of the Kussmaul ever fail, the power cords are fitted with breakaway connectors. These prevent damage to either the fire station or the fire engine by unplugging when tugged on. Only a short piece remains connected to the fire engine and the rest stays safely out of the way in the apparatus bay.

Once the cord has been ejected from the rig, a special cover closes over the now exposed plug. This prevents dirt and moisture from causing damage. Once the truck returns from a call, the engineer will flip up the cover and plug the truck back in, ensuring it is ready to respond to the next emergency.

Brentwood Fire and Rescue apparatus are plugged in, fully charged and ready to respond!