Question: I noted in some of your safety-in-firefighting lectures, you break down the fire ground operations into individual tactics that can compromise safety. One you reference in hose-line operations is the indiscriminate (always) use of large-diameter hose as water supply. Our department primarily serves a bedroom community of 100,000 people with a fair share of industrial and commercial occupancies. Our water supply is a municipal hydrant system with hydrants typically at locations 300 feet apart. We have a standing order to assure a 5-inch supply hose is laid from hydrant to pump and generally have two or three personnel handling handlines inside structure. Can you elaborate on what could be a better hose stretch / supply system that may enhance fireground safety from your point of view?
Answer: Lets start with a few facts from, as you say, my point of view.
First, you describe your district as a urban/suburban complex with an excellent hydrant water supply. Because of the fair share of commercial and industrial complexes you describe you cannot afford to have an ALWAYS kind of evolution, such as always stretching the preconnect, small-diameter hose lay.
Second, lets talk about IN-LINE water supply. Larger-diameter hose lines were designed for this purpose to help with one of three problems. One is that rural departments had to rely on relay operations from long distances for water supply to structure fire activities. Next were departments that typically had partial hydrant systems that could be 500 or more feet apart from each other. And, lastly, there was the urban problem of vast amounts of out-of-service hydrants during times of urban unrest or routine tampering or of traditional vandalism. The basic tactic for this operation is that the lead pumper (fire attack) would drop large-diameter hose at a close hydrant (in service) on the run to the fire (straight lay) and stretch a handline of proper size and length which will be supplied temporarily with tank water. The second engine (whether notified or by routine) proceeded to the nearby hydrant and hooked pumper to hydrant and connected the LDH to a fitted discharge outlet and pumped to the firefighting engine. The crew of this (second arriving) engine, after assisting in hooking up the system, walked to the fire scene AND dressed the LDH lay while it was dry so that is was on only one side of the street before water was supplied.
Herein lies a safety problem. The concept of LDH was adopted, but not the whole system. Some have just simply hooked the LDH to the hydrant supply pressure hoping that there was sufficient to give necessary inlet pressure to the pumping engine. They then rode the second engine to a location behind the first OR were tasked with arriving at the hydrant and laying LDH into the first engine and supplying it with hydrant pressure What a waste: a non-pumping engine blocking the street stopped directly behind the pumping engine blocking a great section of the front of the fire building and the adjacent exposure! Never mind the problem with aerial apparatus position. Even rescue apparatus and incident command vehicles have more of a right to that position than a dead head pumper.
Next is that the crew never walks the stretch and moves the dry LDH to one side or the other of the street before it is charged. Now the whole thoroughfare approach to half of the fire scene is totally blocked for arrival or reposition of any apparatus after the LDH is charged. The safety concept I refer to is the resultant blocking of aerial apparatus for the use of their hydraulic device AND the close proximity of a supply of portable ladders and related equipment. Second is the rapid reposition of equipment for extending fire conditions or for collapse operations caused by too many engines in front of the fire building and the zig-zag snake of charged and vital LDH supply hose in the center of the street.
I still advocate the reverse stretch to hydrant supply (back stretch) in municipalities with hydrants at spacing of 300 feet or less. The intent is for the arriving crew to select the proper size and sufficient length of hose from the rear hose bed, (rather than to be restricted to always using the preconnect cross lay,) and to lay line to the hydrant supply with the engine. Breaking, connecting and supplying the handline with the booster tank at the hydrant intended to be used is a simple process for the pump operator who then will go about hooking to the hydrant and transferring water supply when ready. Variations to this stretch can add to the efficiency with the crew dropping a second handline supply in front of the fire building. The pumping engine is out of the way, the water supply is constant and the street is unblocked with charged LDH.
NOTE: A loop of 100 feet of small-diameter hose is attached to the top length of 2½-inch hose in the rear hose bed. This loop is to be moved, intact, by the firefighter assigned the nozzle and dropped ONLY at the point of operation that is indicated by height of the building and the staircase construction. The second firefighter assures enough hose from the bed to that point of operation before the engine proceeds to the hydrant. Sometimes traditional methods are not meant to be innovatively improved.
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Write if you agree or dont agree or on anything. Tbrennan@firenuggets.com