In my department we do use booster water regularly during the first stages of fire attack. The second due engine brings a supply line from the hydrant if the first due engine does not have a hydrant near by. We have 1000 gallon booster tanks on our engine's and having the extra water is nice as far worrying about running dry. The bad thing is the rear hose bed is about 8 feet off the ground.
While on booster water as an Engine Company officer I know that we will not be able to extinguish a very large amount of fire. If we are dealing will a large fire then I make sure the paths of egress are protected and try to contain the fire as much as possible until we get a dedicated water supply.
There one thing that bothers me. A common practice in my department is pumping at lower discharge pressures while on booster water in order to conserve water. For example, if we have 200 hundred feet of 1 3/4'' line and a fog nozzle, the custom here is to pump about 110 psi. I have always felt the correct discharge pressure is always needed when ever advancing a hose line into a structure to ensure that the proper amount of GPM is being flowed. I always tell my driver to pump the correct pressure while on booster water.
My company always attacked directly out of the tank for room and contents size fires. Starting in 1917 with chemical boosters on an ALF Type 10 and even through the 1940’s L Model Macks with 150 gal tanks. In the 1960’s we graduated (???) to high pressure on a 1” booster at 800 psi EP using a 5 stage centrifugal that delivered about 70 gpm through a standard Elkhart booster nozzle supplied by a 300 gal tank. Yes, nobody knew about the max test pressure of 600 psi on the nozzle, but it was effective in suppressing a lot of fire. Finally in the early 1980’s we graduated to 750 gal tanks and 1 ½” line with Turbo-jet nozzles at 125 gpm. By the 90’s we were using 1 ¾” P.C.’s with TFT’s and engine pressures at 180 PSI.
Normal response includes 4 engines, quint, heavy rescue, and a 2,000 gal tanker. I.C. makes the decision to set up nurse or shuttle depending upon the location of available water. So at a minimum the fireground sees 3,500 gal on the first 3 rigs. This allows a reasonable amount of time to lay line or to set-up a tanker fill site, with the 3rd or 4th engine. All engines are similar for preconnects with 4 or 5 – 1 ¾” and 2- 2 ½”. We have found that we must maximize our attack, due to our remote location. Closest mutual aid is from 6 to 20 miles depending upon the location of the incident.
First due engine for anything showing SOP is we lay our own line. Attack crews will work off booster tank until supply line is charged. This creates some access problems for us at times with incoming companies but more importantly I just dumped a guy at the hydrant and he is OOS for the next few minutes. This only leaves 1 ff and myself to make the stretch, size up and start fire attack. Fortunately for us, we usually have another 10-12 guys on the scene within a matter of seconds to minutes. My engine has a 750 tank but the majority of our fleet is 500 gallon. When tank water is at half, driver makes radio contact with fire attack crew to let them know how much they have left; and he contacts them again when it hits 1/4 tank and empty. Driver of engine will also notify attack crew if supply hydrant is dry, gets run over by a car, etc. that may cause a delay in giving them additional water beyond tank.
Ray, I have two different appliacations one for the vollys and one for the career dept. We both operate initially on the booster. In the career, the second due brings water while, the first starts on the booster. This is the norm unless it is beyond the booster's capability. Obviously, FDC's, sprinkler jobs, etc. are starting with a secure supply.
The vollys on the other hand being a mostly rural district we operate a little different and changing again soon. We opearte initially off the booster, but a tanker responds first due with the engine. If it is in the areas where there are no hydrants our dump tank is on the ground within the first few minutes of operation, while beginning the attack off the booster. The first two rigs carry 2250 gallons of water (1000 + 1250). We are about to take delivery of a new engine with a 750 tank and low hose bed (finally, thank God). THis should change nothing except the placement of our dump tank and losing 250 gallons of water. We pump required pressure and focus on getting hte water on the seat. If the water is applied correctly whether using a blitz attack initially or just stretching the pre-connect. I ahve heard departments would not stretch the 2 1/2 until the had a secure supply. 750 gals. is 3 miutes worth of water from the 2 1/2 flowing 250 gpm. If applied correctly, you can knock down an advanced fire and still have water in the booster to operate. It becomes "gallons per second", instead of GPM. Chief, Curt Isacson form Iscambia Co., Florida says it all in his presentation. If you ever getthe chance to hear him, listen.
We use booster water all the time for an interior attack on SINGLE FAMILY DWELLINGS ONLY. we always either lay in, or another rig lays away. Commercial or multi family dwellings, we wait for the feeder line. The officers do use thier heads when it comes time to commit. It is an important attack plan for us due to the volotility of our first due areas,all very close wood frames. It also means we do not limit our choice to 1 3/4" hose, as we still will commit with a 2 1/2" hoseline if we need it. Our rigs carry 500 gallons.
We use our tanks off the first arriving engine. 2nd due will drop in or assist with hand jack to hydrant. Our engineers will switch over once the supply is secured. First due won't always know they got a job until arrival and size-up - 360.
In my area, all of the Fire Depts make an initial attack off of the booster tank. If possible, the Driver/Operator will begin to establish his/her own supply. the 2nd due Engine Driver/Operator will secure the water source for the 1st due Engine and then continue to assist with his/her duties. We are very well hydranted area and every Engine has between 500-1000 gallon booster tanks. If there are supply problems(broken or frozen hydrants, Engine problems, etc...), the Driver/operator will advise the interior team who will then make the decision to either continue the push or retreat until supply is established. Even at Standpipe Ops, the Engine will charge the Standpipe system off of the booster tank while making the closest available hydrant. Our parameters are really simple. No attempt to complete extinguish a structure fire is to made without a water supply having been established.
In urban areas where adequate mains feed numerous hydrants at sufficient pressures, using on-board water can be considered as an "option". However, where hydrants are few and far between, or worse yet, non-existant, the booster tank may well be the ONLY source of water for initial attack. The booster tank has always been a first use option in just about every FD around the world. The first engine I responded with in 1958 was a 500 gpm American Marsh with 1000 gals. of water and that had to suffice until mutual aid units arrived. The tanker relay system is an advance as well as portable tanks and tank dump valves, but the booster tank will often be the source of initial water.
Here in Spain, engines usually carry about 800 gallons on board while tankers, especially in rural areas may often carry between 2000 to 4000 gallons. There are several converted trailer tankers that can carry up to 8,500 gallons of water. These units have limitations to maneuverbility and access to many areas. Many municipalities here have insufficient mains and hydrant grids. Quite often, industrial or commercial complexes will have their own fire protection water supplies; high volume pumps fed by hundreds of thousands of gallons storage tanks and connected to adequate hydrant systems.
For William Hoehn; did you ever try a John Bean high pressure pump? Up to 1000psi, 3/4 booster and a specially designed pistol-grip nozzle with interior pressure compensation.
Many times we will do this on a small structure fire. Our limited SOP states with fire and smoke visible the first in pump shall lay its own lines. Our culture now is to fight with booster h2o, and have the 2nd due pump its booster into us. I feel we should lay our own lines on working fires, but I am in the minority. I hope you all have some thoughts.
We have a variety of techniques that are utilized, some good and some bad. Most of our units have either 750 or 1000 gallon tanks on them. My feelings on this are exactly that, my feelings, but I feel with this much water if the fire is still room and contents and there are chances of a viable rescue then move in for a fast attack and go into what I call a Engine Company rescue mode. Meaning contain the fire and seperate it and the victims before the fire spreads anymore.
Most of our next in units are on scene within a minute of our first in unit, not always but usually. So I think that in these situations we can do more good with a fast attack. On the other hand if the building is heavily involved and rescue is unlikely then I think a plug should be caught on the way in because exposure protection and gpm are now your goals.
Just my thoughts but I think you can not say one way is right everytime. That is why we have company officers on the engine, and some times you have to risk a little to save lives.
Standard practice for us is to have the first in engine "wrap" the hydrant (the FF gets out, pulls off lines, simply wraps them around the hydrant, and gets back on the engine) and lay in. This way, the lines are down, the crew doesn't lose any manpower (we only have three), and we can initially use the booster water. The second in engine (at most 3-4 min. behind) connects to the hydrant and to the laid lines, and the operator pumps to the 1st in, while his crew humps in to beef up the manning on "Engine 321". There was initially a lot of resistance when we went to this about 5 years back, but it has worked out well for cutting the time it takes to establish a supply, and for keeping the immediate scene from being clogged up with apparatus.
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