A group from one of West Texas A&M University’s mechanical engineering classes Monday unveiled a device designed and built for the Randall County Fire Department as their spring project.
Developed as a project over the 16-week class, the device is designed to make rolling up a fire hose after a fire become less time and manpower consuming. In most cases, the winding up and squeezing of water out of the hoses takes a few men to do the operation and, many times, is done after many hours of work on a fire site.
WT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Fisseha Alemayehu, said the class called advanced mechanics and design is all about students putting their classwork into implementing actual 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 class, we give the students a blank slate to find a problem that needs a solution,” Alemayehu said. “I am really proud of my students’ hard work on this project. This device saves manpower by doing the work that takes about five firefighters to do, freeing them up to do other tasks.”
Hector Rivero-Figueroa, one of the students involved in the device’s planning and implementation, spoke about the process and time spent on creating the time-saving device. He said that overall the project was done over 16 weeks of the current school year.
Rivero-Figueroa said that his class was tasked with devising a solution for a problem that existed. He said that the budget for the project was $1,000 and was somewhat restricted by what materials were available to be acquired for the project. The project hit a snag right off the bat with the time it would take for a motor 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, with the last eight weeks applying what we learned with the material and design of our hose retrieval and loading system,” Rivero Figueroa said. “To actually work on and get the device to it took about two months.”
He said that the difference between his group’s device and what many fire departments use is a more expensive hydraulic that is hard-wired into one truck. In comparison, their system is electrical and can be moved from one truck to another with relative ease. No other systems used are electrical, according to Rivero-Figueroa.
“It’s really cool because of all the time we spend in engineering doing a lot of crunching numbers and paperwork, but being able to see the finished product of our design in action shows what it means to be an engineer,” Rivero Figueroa added. “Working with the fire department on this design has been a real blessing for us.”
Rivero-Figueroa said that this product would be implemented in the Canyon Fire Department, and it could make its way to other departments outside of the area. He said that the group would possibly be looking at a patent in the future.
Joe Koch, fire chief of Randall County, spoke about his impressions of the students’ work for the new device.
“This will do as far as staffing and safety to make it more efficient for my firemen after responding to a fire when they are already fatigued,” Koch said. “This will be a great addition to our fleet, and I am grateful for the partnership we have formed with WT.”
He said that this issue was one of the biggest for his department, and the students came to him to come up with a solution, especially with the safety factors involved.