GAMBIER — An emergency electric generator for the College Township Fire Department at Gambier has been installed and is in service. The unit generates 36 kilowatts of electricity, enough to run everything in the department in the event of commercial power failure. Chief Bill Smith said this includes operating the high-pressure air pump of the Cascade air system that fills firefighters’ air tanks.
A 2.4-liter engine runs the generator, and it burns natural gas for fuel. The unit is mounted on a cement pad at the rear of the department. It is a Generac unit purchased through Generac sales and service manager Lee Henthorn. Henthorn, who is also a volunteer firefighter with College Township, installed the unit, poured the pad and installed the electrical hookup.
Smith said that in the event of a power failure, the unit waits about 30 seconds in case the power comes back on. When the generator is operation and commercial power is restored, the generator will run for a 10-minute cool-off period for the engine.
A heater keeps the engine coolant warm for ease of starting in cold weather. The unit has a weekly test period of 10 minutes; Smith said he has programmed it for Mondays at 10 a.m., when he can monitor the test cycle.
The new unit replaces one that is believed to be World War II Army surplus. It was installed at United Telephone in 1945 as its emergency generator. The telephone company replaced its generator in 1986, and gave the old one to the fire department. Smith said the diesel engine in the old generator was very noisy in operation, disturbing an area of Gambier. Mechanical problems dictated it be replaced.
Half the cost, $7,493.50, was paid for through a grant from The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County. Executive Director Sam Barone said the foundation’s board of directors approved the department’s request. The new emergency generator went on line April 2.