Andrew Pollack's Blog

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Busy, busy, busy.... Real engineering data from a tech helps me fix the pool heater -- oh, and the new Engine 1's first few calls.

By Andrew Pollack on 07/25/2006 at 09:21 PM EDT

I can't believe its been 10 days since my last blog entry. I've been running around like a crazy person since then. I'll try to post more often now that things with the new truck have settled down.

I fixed the pool heater today. After having the burner cleaned, it wouldn't run. The guy who takes care of the gas appliances for me from the energy company (I draw the line on DIY when it comes to playing with LP Gas) saw that my previous wiring work was up to snuff and figured I could save a ton of money by taking the next steps myself. His advice was to call the manufacturer, claim I was a gas appliance tech, and had already tested the flow rate and draw already (he gave me the measurements to give them if they asked) and see if they'd talk to me. They did. Believe it or not, they were helpful.

After just one simple voice prompt and a single receptionist and suddenly I'm talking to a technician that knew what he was doing. Imagine how pleased I was to be asked "Do you have a circuit tester that can read megaohms?" Yes, of course I do. I can measure up to 40 megaohms. He gave me two or three things to check, but the most likely of them was an exhaust temperature sensor which should read between 3 and 7 megaohms depending on temperature. The sensor is there to detect too much flame or not enough and in either case to shut down save itself. Sure enough, the sensor was giving me very eradic readings on my tester. The new part came today and it tested perfectly. In 5 minutes it was installed, and 3 hours later the pool was back to 82 degrees.

As for Engine 1 - the new truck is amazing. I've had about a dozen people out on it so far for training, and as a result I've got a lot of hours myself. I've pumped off hydrants and drafted from ponds. I've been to three calls with it so far. The first was just a down power line that was not really down. End of call. The second was while I was out doing driver training with a crew member who has more than 4 times the number of years on the department and certainly doesn't need me to teach him how to drive. It was pouring rain and a motorist decided to pull over on the highway and call for medical help. The call didn't amount to much for us, the EMS crew got there right after us and the state police didn't want us hanging around on the highway.

Today's call was the weirdest I've had in a long time. The box came in as a single engine still box (a minimal response) for "A train that needs water for their engine". It wasn't clear if that mean the railroad had a fire engine on scene and needed additional water, or if the engine in question was a locomotive. Normally we don't interact with the railroads. They have all kinds of federal rights and their own jurisdiction. In fact, I've never interacted with them at all other than to put out fires started on dry days when they spark through town. Turns out this time the operator literally needed water. There's a big tank full (or not full in this case) there in the engine compartment. This one leaked. I took the nozzle off the 3/4 inch booster line and gave him 20 gallons water then we all went our separate ways. Weird.

So, the first time the new Engine 1 has to flow water through a line at a call, it amounts to 20 gallons without foam or even a nozzle -- and no fire.


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