Oakland County Boy Scout comes up with a way to save a fire department time and money

Who would have thought a Boy Scout would come up with a way to save a Macomb County fire department time and money when it comes to drying firefighter personnel’s gear?

Julian Deschner, 16, partnered with his father, Mark, a lieutenant with the Roseville Fire Department, and a team of Oakland County Boy Scouts in building what’s known as a gear dryer for Roseville’s two fire stations. They borrowed the idea from other troops who had previously launched similar efforts.

Deschner, a Bloomfield Township resident who attends Lutheran High School Northwest in Rochester Hills, oversaw the planning and construction of the contraption.

“A commercial dryer costs around $10,000,” the teen said. “We built ours for about $1,000. Plus we’re able to reduce the drying time it takes.”

It was all part of an Eagle Scout service project candidates must perform to demonstrate leadership while finishing an enhancement for the benefit of their community.

Julian Deschner made a presentation on his project before the Roseville City Council last week.

The gear dryer is made up of PVC pipes, clamps, lumber, and a 1-horsepower zoom blower — the air pumps used to inflate giant “tube men” in front of commercial stores to attract attention.

Lt. Mark Deschner demonstrates how an firefighter's insulated coat is hung from the PVC gear drier at the Roseville Fire Department's headquarters on Common Road. (MITCH HOTTS -- THE MACOMB DAILY)
Lt. Mark Deschner demonstrates how an firefighter’s insulatedcoat is hung from the PVC gear drier at the Roseville Fire Department’s headquarters on Common Road. (MITCH HOTTS — THE MACOMB DAILY)

According to the father-and-son team, commercial dryers may take as long as 12 hours to thoroughly dry the turnout gear. That compares to four hours with the gear bunker, the pair said.

The younger Deschner said that’s important considering firefighters’ gear is made of dense material that has to be washed and dried to rid it of cancer-causing carcinogens.

“The fire department in Roseville is very busy. They go out on runs almost every day, so they’re more in need of (the device),” Julian Deschner said. “The Bloomfield firefighters don’t go on as many calls as the ones in Roseville do.”

According to the Deschners, firefighters use the clamps to hold their wet coats and pants in place for the zoom blowers to blow on. Valves made up of PVC pipes can direct the air flow to specific areas of the gear for faster drying.

Dad Mark Deschner said he was proud that his son’s leadership characteristics were displayed.

“He really took charge of this,” Mark Deschner said.

“I saw another department had done it, so I basically copied their dimensions and brought it to Julian, and he was all about it. He worked with me and the other scouts and we built it in just a few days.”

Marci Deschner, the teen’s mother, said he is the middle of three children.  In addition to their son, the couple has two daughters: Violet, 11, and 18-year-old Aida.

She said the project was a “big undertaking” in their Bloomfield home.

“We had five Scouts and a few other dads to lead the boys. Julian is interested in engineering and the military, and the trades. He likes building things,” she said.