What if the hydrant is out of service? Have you trained on maximizing tank water? Have you timed your tank? How much tank water is available on your first alarm assignment? Do you think catching a hydrant guarantees success?
Many times every day in America, a fire company secures a hydrant for a working fire. While securing a hydrant can guarantee a sustained supply, it does not guarantee successful fire extinguishment, and/or an adequate supply for a given fire. First, you must have enough fire fighters on-scene to utilize booster water, by stretching and advancing the proper size attack line for the fire situation you are faced with. After this most critical decision has been made and acted upon; then we can and should ensure an adequate supply through other available booster tanks and/or properly securing hydrant water.
So many times a given fire is well within the capabilities of the first due booster tank, but there are not enough firefighters on the first arriving fire company (anything less than four personnel)to efficiently utilize that water. So, when the second due company is delayed because they are securing a hydrant, the firefighters on the scene may be in greater danger, unable to successfully utilize their booster water. It is critical when arriving first due at a working fire, to determine where the fire has BEEN, where the fire is AT, and where the fire is GOING, and where it is GOING to be in two to three minutes. “BAG IT“. After this, you can determine initial tactics. This will assist in the decision to have the second due Engine come straight to the scene and provide additional firefighters and booster water, or delay its arrival to secure a hydrant, because of the need for more water than is available on the first two arriving booster tanks. So many times it’s about how and where you use your initial water, and not how much you have. Once again, always securing a hydrant does not guarantee success. Proper flow rates and application of water on the seat of the fire, along with a prompt and sustained water supply are a recipe for successful fire extinguishment.
If you do determine there is a need for hydrant water, maximize the hydrants available water. Make sure you are able to connect to all available ports. Ensure the distance from the hydrant to the fire is within the acceptable friction loss numbers. Even LDH needs pumping when you need maximum water for fire extinguishment. When you place your engine/pump directly on the plug you can almost pull water. When you just hook up and lay the line down the street, you are relying on the municipal water system to provide adequate water based on the daily consumption and available pressure. When the fire apparatus pump is at the plug, you can utilize it to boost pressure and overcome the friction loss created, even in LDH.
Can you maximize the tank and hydrant together? Can you zero out your intake,? Does your LDH intake swivel, so you can turn it forward or rear of apparatus, depending on what direction supply is coming from? Do you rely on supply strickely from one hydrant supplying one engine and take all attacks lines off that one engine? If you do this, your placing all your trust in one hydrant and one pump.
The 300′ Drill!
Catch a hydrant and lay 300′ of LDH supply line on the ground, and charge the hydrant to feed the fire department pumper. Stretch and flow as many lines as possible. Calculate the amount of water,(GPM) you are able to flow. Second, shut down the hydrant and hook up a second fire department pumper to the hydrant, hooking up to all available hydrant ports. Once you have secured all available water from the hydrant, hook up the previously laid LDH to a discharge on the pumper, and send it all to the pumper 300′ down the line. Once again, stretch and flow as many lines as possible and calculate your flow (GPM). You may be surprised with the positive results. This will show how critical it is to have a fire department pumper maximizing the hydrant, and taking advantage of all available water.
Friction Loss does matter, even in LDH!