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Company makes sure firefighting hoses in good shape

SMITHERS - Hydrostatic engineers from Michigan-based Fire CATT are in Fayette County testing thousands of feet of water hose for 16 fire departments.

"We have 13,000 feet of hose," said Benny Filiaggi, deputy chief for the Montgomery Fire Department. "This is the second year they have done this for us. Before that, we did it individually using our trucks. This means we can use training time for training instead of testing water hoses. Fayette County has 16 departments. Oak Hill is the largest with 15,000 feet of hose."

He said the National Fire Protection Association requires that hoses be tested annually.

Fire CATT, an acronym for critical asset testing and tracking, was founded in 2007 and has done work in 24 states, said President Marc Radecky.

Employee Christian Smith has traveled throughout the country testing hoses for fire departments, oil refineries, and asphalt companies.

"It's fun," he said. "We see lots of places."

He said title of an employee doing this specialized type of work would be hose technician or hydrostatic engineer.

On a recent day, the crew worked on the parking lot between Valley Elementary and Valley High School in Smithers.

They removed all hoses from a Montgomery Fire Department truck and spread them on the ground.

Each hose is hooked to a manifold that is connected to a computerized system. The hose is checked for any flaws and tested to see that it meets proper PSI (pounds per square inch) standards.

An automated pressure release system is used. At the end of each test all hose pressure is released through this system eliminating the need for manual release of high pressure. The system senses sudden pressure loss and immediately shuts the valve cutting off pressure and water to that length of hose. Go to www.firecatt.com for details about the process.

"I think only a handful of companies do this and we are the only ones that do it the way we do and as carefully," Smith said.

Radecky said about a dozen companies across the country do this type of work "but we are the first and only to use computerized technology to eliminate human error and risk. We now service 24 states and test over 3 million feet of hose a year."

The work is done neatly, Smith said.

"We take all the hose off the truck and lay it out," Smith said. "When we are done, we roll it up and load it. We specialize in parade-style loads because those are prettiest and best. When one truck is done, we bring in another so that only one engine is out of service at a time."

Tests are done regardless of the weather, with the exception of lightning, he said.

Fire CATT employee Branden Coffell, said this marks the company's second year to work in Fayette County, where current testing is expected to be complete by Saturday.

"Next we are heading to Romney and Welch," he said.

More business is garnered each year as people hear about the company through word of mouth as well as through advertising and attending shows and conventions, he said.

The cost of the service ranges from 20 to 30 cents per foot of hose depending upon the agreement with the customer, Radecky said. The more physical labor provided by the customer, the less the cost. For example, a department may choose to load and unload the hoses from a truck.   

For more information about the company, go to www.firecatt.com or call 248-643-7200.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymail.com or 304-348-1246.


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