Do you pre-connect NST/Storz to hose or leave in hydrant bag? Top Three Photos By: Phil Cohen “Camden NJ”
When do we need to pump LDH? Do you use some type of fourway valve?
Securing a hydrant is so high on so many Fire Ground Commanders’ check list; they sometimes fail to really evaluate the Fire Flow needs. They have it ingrained to get a hydrant. First, I would like to say most Working Fires are controlled with Tank Water. And most, if not all LODDs have nothing to do with a lack of on-scene water. I am a big advocate of using water to need more. So, why do we put in our tactics text books that the second due secures water? Or better yet place it in our SOGs? I will tell you why! Because some time in the past; we ran out of water trying to make a knock on a FIRE. Then the following day a MEMORANDUM came out “FIRST DUE WILL SECURE A HYDRANT”. I guess the thinking is that this would guarantee success at all fires.
Do not miss-read this post. I would love to have a hydrant in front of every structure that was on fire. This is not the case. So we must train on decision making with conditions at hand. When dealing with a normal size house and your first two engines carry Suburban Booster Tanks/Suburban Manning, evaluate your capabilities. Time Your Tank and account for Tactical Priorities!
Well, what if the first on-scene Engine “crew of three with 752.5 gallons of water on board” has a one room fire on the second floor of a small private dwelling with possible entrapment? Now how important is it for second due to secure a hydrant while only two firefighters stretch an attack line and try and advance in and upstairs with a return staircase. The FLASHOVER will happen before you even get a supply line in place and even then the line will not take back what has already occurred. Let’s evaluate the needs here. More firefighters to assist getting a line upstairs to extinguish with Gallons per Second/PRE-VENT FLASHOVER or have second due secure a hydrant so when the house goes fully involved because the crew of three could not reach the one room fire they will have a secured water supply. Then will the static supply lay of 500’ really supply what you need? Please don’t put the cart before the horse. Just because the First Arriving Engine secures a hydrant does not guarantee success. But, if you’re going to secure a hydrant then why not do it 100%. You think, what is a 100%? That would be when the hydrant is fully tapped and a Pump pulling the water and then pushing it. There can be over 500 GPM difference at only 300’ of LDH. Remember friction loss does exist in LDH. Seven pounds per 100’ using 5” at a 1000 GPM and 20 pounds per 100’ of 4” at 1000 GPM flow. The other problem is the residual water available when not fully tapping the PLUG. We have found nearly 25% more water available when fully tapping.
Success is only a possibility when Firefighters FIRST and Fire Officers Second, understand Fire Ground Tactics. Firefighters are the ones stretching and applying the water. They are the ones at the hydrant by themselves. Fire cannot be extinguished with Strategy alone. Fires cannot be extinguished without Tactics. So make sure your Firefighters can perform their required Tactics and then confirm your Officer knows when and why to call for specific types Tactics to be performed. Just simply stating to always catch a hydrant first will not guarantee success.
When looking at your water supply capabilities look at your hydrant bag first. Does it carry two ball valves to full tap plug? Do you have a 2.5” NST to 5” storz for the plugs that do not have a steamer and/or it is unable to be opened? Does your hydrant bag has the steamer to storz connection in the BAG or pre-connected to the hose in bed? I HIGHLY RECOMMEND do not pre-connect!! Having it pre-connected does not SAVE TIME. It only limits your capabilities. When your bag has everything but the steamer to storz, it’s incomplete. What if you do a reverse supply and the steamer to storz is left at the scene and the Hydrant firefighter now has everything but the BIG CONNECTION? What if you need to hook up to a 2.5” port? Now you must remove before connecting. What if you decide to hook-up a four way valve? Then, there are the ones that will not swivel freely and your LDH gets turns in it. If it was not pre-connected, you just spin it on and then click in the storz. LAST and MOST important!!! Connecting storz with locks on them is a ONE PERSON JOB. Disconnecting storz with locks will most likely be a TWO PERSON JOB. Do you carry a pipe wrench for hydrants that are old and your hydrant wrench cannot get a grip on valve? Escambia had a Fire where the hydrant wrench would not work because it would not close enough to grip.
So if you really need hydrant water than make the most of it. The Big Fires need Big Water. If you’re dealing with a house fire and people are possibly trapped evaluate your priorities and manpower available. It is awesome if you have Engines and Trucks arriving at the same time as to always allow the Second Due Engine to secure a hydrant. The problem is most of the Fire Service does not have this available.
So at your next Fire ask yourself if it is more manpower or more water you need first. If it is water you need; make the most of your supply.