A group from one of West Texas A&M University’s mechanical engineering classes on Monday unveiled a device designed and built for the Randall County Fire Department as part of their spring project.
Developed as a project on the 16-week class, the device is designed to make winding up a fire hose after a fire less time-consuming and labor-intensive. In most cases, coiling and extracting water from hoses requires a few men to perform the operation and, often, is done after many hours of work at a fire site.
WT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Fisseha Alemayehu, said the course called Advanced Mechanics and Design is for students to put their work into the classroom in the implementation of real designs.
He said that with many limitations, especially time, his class stepped up and created a beneficial device that would be used in the community.
“In the classroom, we give students a blank slate to find a problem that needs a solution,” Alemayehu said. “I am really proud of the hard work of my students on this project. This device saves labor by doing the job that takes about five firefighters to do, freeing them up to do other tasks.
Hector Rivero-Figueroa, one of the students involved in the planning and implementation of the device, spoke about the process and time spent creating the time-saving device. He said overall the project took place over 16 weeks of the current school year.
Rivero-Figueroa said her class was tasked with finding a solution to a problem that existed. He said the budget for the project was $1,000 and was somewhat limited by the materials available to acquire for the project. The project ran into a problem early on with the time it would take for an engine from China to arrive. Most parts were acquired locally.
“Our class consisted of a 16-week course, with the first eight weeks being in class, the last eight weeks applying what we learned with the hardware and design of our pipe retrieval and loading system,” Rivero said. Figueroa. “To work and install the device, it took about two months.”
He said the difference between his group’s device and what many fire departments use is more expensive hydraulics that are hardwired into a truck. By comparison, their system is electric and can be moved from truck to truck with relative ease. No other system used is electric, according to Rivero-Figueroa.
“It’s really cool because of all the time we spend in engineering doing a lot of calculations and paperwork, but being able to see the finished product of our design in action shows what it means to be an engineer,” added Rivero Figueroa. “Working with firefighters on this design has been a real blessing for us.”
Rivero-Figueroa said this product would be implemented in the Canyon Fire Department and could be taken to other departments outside the area. He said the group might consider a patent in the future.
Joe Koch, Randall County Fire Chief, shared his impressions of the students’ work for the new device.
“It will do in terms of staffing and safety to make it more efficient for my firefighters after responding to a fire when they are already fatigued,” Koch said. “It will be a great addition to our fleet, and I am grateful for the partnership we have formed with WT.”
He said this problem was one of the biggest for his department, and students came to him for a solution, especially with the safety factors involved.