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Paying For Donated Blood, Ethanol In Lawn Mowers, Numbered Alarm Fires: 5/12/06

Q: What's the difference between a one-alarm, two-alarm, three-alarm, and four-alarm fire?

A: We went to the DC Fire Department for your answer. It says when there is a credible report of fire, it sends 5 fire engines, 2 ladder trucks, one rescue squad and one fire chief. This is call a box alarm. If the fire is confirmed, it becomes a one-alarm fire meaning one more engine, one more ladder truck, one battalion fire chief and one ambulance.

A two-alarm fire brings 4 more engines, 2 more ladder trucks, 1 more fire chief and EMS equipment, in all about 110 firefighters and 45 pieces of equipment. 3 alarms brings 4 more engines and 2 more ladder trucks. Four alarms signals a huge fire and the department sends much of the equipment it has available.

Q: Is ethanol blended fuel okay to use in lawn mowers, lawn tractors and weed eaters?

A: We turned to the Renewable Fuels Association for your answer. It says ethanol tests on lawnmowers, chain-saws, weed trimmers and blower-vacs showed no engine failure, no unscheduled maintenance, and good performance. What's more, small engine manufacturers have long permitted the use of ethanol fuels.

Q: When someone donates blood to the Red Cross, does the Red Cross sell it to hospitals?

A: We went to the Red Cross with your question. It says it doesn't sell blood to hospitals, but it does recover the cost of collecting the blood and processing fees. So the Red Cross doesn't make a profit on blood, it just recovers its costs. We also asked the DC Hospital Association about patient charges for receiving blood. It says there are no uniform practices for this and it varies by hospital.

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