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NIOSH Health Hazard Reports (HHEs) Underscore Need for Firefighters to Use Diesel Exhaust Extraction

The hazards of diesel exhaust prompted the stations’ chiefs to request the two HHE studies.

Cranbury - NJ, November 16, 2017

Two NIOSH Health Hazard Reports (HHEs) recommend that fire stations are equipped with diesel exhaust extraction systems, and to encourage regular use, even when firefighters are conducting routine running of the apparatus during equipment checks.


In the case of both HHEs, the hazards of diesel exhaust prompted the stations’ chiefs to request the studies.

In a 2017 study (HHE Report No. 2016-0094-3267), two fire stations were evaluated. The diesel fire engines in the stations were built in 1992 and 1999. As the study noted: “More than 95% of diesel exhaust particulate is less than 1 micrometer in size and is respirable. Because of their small size, diesel exhaust particles can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and even into the bloodstream.”

The NIOSH researchers monitored particulate concentrations throughout the day and also used ventilation smoke tubes to observe and monitor airflow direction.

The tests revealed that just after the diesel engine-powered equipment was started in the bay, exhaust appeared to be flowing into the living quarters. The researchers also noted that an existing tailpipe exhaust system at one of the stations was not being used for equipment checks. “The fire fighters indicated that this hose was used for maintenance that had to be done inside the bay, but it was not used during equipment checks in the bay.”

Among the recommendations made by the NIOSH researchers were to “install diesel control systems to decrease the amount of diesel exhaust in the apparatus bay” and to “use the tailpipe exhaust hose at station 1 when conducting equipment checks in the bay.”


Rob Sims