Yes Dave Exactly. It is amazing that a residential line in plain sight could have severe kinks, but it happens. It happens too often. Once the line is in the smoke things can happen. This is another reason why you test your line prior to entry. When a problem develops with pressure you must work your way back to the pump looking at every possible trouble spot. Then hand out the beating.
I'm on board with you guys, many of our problems start with the basics.
Kinks in the line. No door control. Pre-connected crosslays that haven't fully cleared the bed. Inexperienced apparatus operators that haven't been battle field tested or trained adequately.
How about too long of a stretch with too small hose. The engine is jumping from max rpm's but the pressure at the end of the nozzle won't cut it. Additional handlines being taken from the engine and trying to overpump it's rated capacity is another thing I see when those little fires start to get big.
Communication with the fire attack officer and the pump operator should be short and sweet when it comes to low pressures and each should know what responsibilities they have before the fire to correct the problem. I'm spoiled with an aggressive driver that can handle almost any pump problem and knows when to notify me if he can't. He knows that his job is to check that the bed is clear of hose and get water to the line, look for kinks and other problems that might keep us from not having an adequate nozzle flow. A good operator can make or break the attack crew!
I think some guys only learn by making mistakes so let's make a few in a drill. If the line is kinked, send a man to chase it out and let the nozzleman see the improvement.
25 years ago I had a deputy chief tell me to stretch one 1&1/5 preconnect and disconnect the other and add it on to the first for 400 feet of 1&1/5 with a mystery nozzle. The pump screamed and we got maybe 60 GPM. Good thing it was just a tree house burning.
I remember our friend Tim Klett telling me a statistic that will forever be engrained in my memory. After his research, the last 44 brothers who suffered a LOD, that was not due to medicals or MVAs, ( these were FDNY Stats), the majority of the fires had water issues that directly or indirectly led to the bad result. If the members of this blog really check into the NIOSH reports, and read in between the lines, they will see that the death was due either fully or partially due to a water issue. Like you say , the first hoseline saves more lives than any other. I read all of the Brothers responses, and I would like to add 3 more reasons. The lack of simplicity of operations, manpower, and the fire service getting away from "the engine company". I would like to address them individually, if the members of the post will not mind.
1) Why do we as fire service have to read into everything? Let's take pump pressures. Can someone come up with stadardized pump pressure per length, not in hundreds of feet? Why can't we create a national standard? I don't want to hear of people saying that "our hose is different". When I am at the end of the hose on the nozzle, I will not know the difference between 50 psi NP or 48 psi NP. The reality that I want is a great stream with good reach. I think we all use the same size hoses. I know my guys came up with theirs after actually setting up flow meters and inline gauges. Freeman has been worm food for a couple of centuries now, I think we can come up with something better! If you go into some towns, and look in the pump operator's compartment at their pump chart, there will not be two rigs that are the same. IFSTA needs to get out of the dark ages and step up to the plate. Lastly, automatics are not the answer...that 4 decade experiment is still hurting members!
2) I know I am preaching to the choir, but if the largest fire department in the world with the biggest manning puts 2 engines on one line to ensure it gets in service, why can't a department like mine, that responds with 3 members on a rig, (one a ECC)? I digress. The biggest life saving tool we have is the initial hoseline. I will not armchair the recent VA LODD, but we all are moths to a flame, especially if someone is still inside. One company conducted a 6 length stretch. Does anyone rememer Oscar Armstrong in Cincinnati Ohio? How soon we forget. I know some of the respondents that have companies that need a plane ticket for mutual aid, and adjustments need to be made, but in reality, has anyone actually looked at the response times and said to themselves, "I can wait a minute here" to wait for the second rig? Take a second to save a second. Your reflex time will not be that long. A side benifet would be a better size up. Everyone here talked about the number one firefighter killer.....kinks. I have not met a firefighter yet who can stretch a 200 foot preconnect, have one length of hose ready at the entrance of the fire compartment, and not look back and see the pasta pile they left behind them!
3) Most departments train on anything and everything but stretching hose. It is taken for granted that members can stretch hose CORRECTLY. I think not. Recently I had my guys stretch lines. Guess what my training priority is this summer! I am not saying that other tasks are not important. But my department does a boatload of EMS. We are good at it. Why drill on it? We do it all the time! We don't have the fires like we used to. This is what we need to train on. Stretching, getting in, laddering, Venting, RIT and FFSS. That is a whole training year.
Good topic as usual with some good responses. As you stated and Chip also pointed out we have to focus more on streching and operating the initial hoseline. This is something I have payed close attention to recently and I can honestly say that most guys cant effectively strecth a line. I think we need to re-focus our attention collectively and reprioritize our training accordingly.
I think alot of poor hoseline pressure can be avoided by grasping the fundamentals of the operation. The firefighter needs to stretch out his hoseline so it will not have many kinks in it from the start, door chocks have been mentioned, never leave a door closed behind you, chocking a door just takes a quick second with practice in limited visibility. The pump operator needs to know whats on his/her rig, nozzle gallonage rating, friction loss, for example if your nozzle is rated for 200 gpm pump it so it flows 200 gpm, anything less your just robbing yourself, your crew and the residents of your town.
Everything from "why do I need to know", "you pump it, you'll flow it", "I just pump all lines at 150 no matter how long", and my most favorite one...."I will only pump it at 100 cuz I don't want to kill the guys"!
Like I said before, a 4 decade experitment that went bad.
know how to stretch hose, how much to take and where to put excess
everyone looks out for kinks
don't stretch more than 4 lengths of small diameter with a fog nozzle and 6 with a solid bore, use 2-1/2" with a water thief to fill out longer stretches
most of all, teach your people how to pump properly to get the right GPM and more importantly, how to troubleshoot problems with water supply
I think it starts with the engine, or who is running it. I have heard the same response from many of our drivers. I don't want to beat the hell out of the guys on the end of the hose. I always tell them I (my engine co.) would rather deal with more pressure, and flow, than be beat by the fire. It always seems like when I get to the door of a worker, I always ask for 50 pounds more. I have never had to ask them to back off a little.
Hoseline kinks are also a real killer. If our third man, (we are blessed that in our small combination department, Engine 1 leaves with no fewer than a 3 man crew, 1 officer, and one driver/operator.), can't chase out kinks, he is barely more than a well dressed bystander.
Training is also a huge issue. Why is it that when pulling a line in a practice situation, and the lay is kinked, stretched short, or not fully pulled from the bed (crosslays only), do we not use this as a point to stop the exercise, show the guys what is wrong with the situation, correct it, and move on with the training. We have so many people who haven't seen a good stretch, a good flow checked at the door, or correct gpms, that they think that a clusterf*#k is the correct situation on a fire scene.
If we can't figure this out on our own, who do we call. I mean WE ARE 911.
Jeff -The answer as to why stretches are bad is partly due to a lack of discipline. In training the problems should be corrected. In real life many firefighters lack dicipline. You must flake out the line and remove kinks and bleed the line before anything else. Having discipline allows you to stay calm and do what you should be doing in the face of chaos.
On thing that I do at the Community College Academy as well as our own In-House new hire academy, is drive home the fact that EVERYONE on the fire ground is responsible for chasing kinks. If you step over a kink in the academy and don't kick it out or at lerast try to fix it, your butt is mine for the rest of the day. The Roving Linebacker as referred to by our own Lt. McCormack, as well as others( I first heard it from Lt. Klett of 88 Engine ) is by far the most critical position on the hose team. This is where the most experienced member belongs. He will be able to anticipate problems and plan for the next move. Unfortunately when your hose team consists of a nozzleman and Officer, the RL is mearly a pipedream.
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