Unclear Emergency Fuel Testing Procedures Leave US Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities Vulnerable

VANCOUVER, Wash., March 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Hospitals and emergency facilities across the U.S. are making provisions to accommodate the unprecedented spread of COVID-19. The current demand for emergency response puts an overwhelming strain on old and new infrastructure and the power system serving the life support demand. Backup diesel power systems are often relied on to support any system failures. However, FOI Laboratories, a diesel fuel testing laboratory in Vancouver, Washington, says these backup systems may fail for a number of preventable reasons.

Fuel contamination happens in many ways. Water is the most common fuel failure point. Biofuels, microbials and additives also play a role in contamination of fuel. A 2007 EPA Report identified serious deterioration and shortened life of distribution and storage infrastructures due to new abrasives in the fuel quality. Human error, staffing changes and lack of global data availability can all lead to a failure in a backup system considered healthy.

All U.S. hospitals and medical centers are required to perform an annual fuel test (ASTMD975) to be compliant to operate and meet health safety building codes.

"The act of performing a fuel quality test does not ensure the generator will perform under demand for hours, but that's as far as many health care providers go," says Larry Steckman, President of FOI Laboratories. "The standards and guidelines remain unclear and substandard. According to many generator service providers, the standard of testing for emergency preparedness should include a documented procedure combining the site fuel and equipment. Service providers recommend testing the fuel quarterly and also trending the fuel data in real-time. Current testing protocols for many small data centers, municipalities, and hospitals do not simulate realistic conditions in the case of a power outage."

It's a power outage that remains the worst-case scenario, and what worries fuel testing labs like FOI.

Steckman added, "Many nationwide service providers of backup generators recommend that a generator run under demand and a 30% fuel drawdown is necessary to simulate a real emergency. If the fuel supply is not tested properly, then how do you know if it's going to perform when life safety service is needed? Fuel is not perfect; we see as high as 16% failure rates around the country for all kinds of reasons. If the diesel in those tanks loses integrity, a hospital could lose its ability to power essential life support equipment...it's just that simple."

Many emergency rooms are already combating over-capacity situations. The New York Times recently published a video taken by an emergency room doctor in Elmhurst, NY, showing the reliance on ventilator power to treat COVID-19 patients.

FOI has recognized the dysfunction and chaos that results during emergencies that bring typical facility operations to a grinding halt. FOI's Global Fuel Program is serving ASTM International, the National Fuel Institute, the United States Military, worldwide data centers, municipalities, emergency services, hospitals and many nationwide service providers up and down the fuel stream. This platform is free for any industry and we encourage all facility managers to make fuel testing a priority.

Utilizing FOI's global fuel testing program and protocols will considerably improve the protection of your most valuable asset, life safety, as well as organize and trend your data to report in real-time from any location. FOI can also merge historical data and fold other lab data into the system, saving precious time - which has quickly become increasingly important for hospitals.

For more information on emergency generator diesel fuel testing, please contact FOI Laboratories at 1-800-546-4451 or email info@foilab.com.

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SOURCE FOI Laboratories