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Water on the Fire

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 17 December 2014
in Industry Insights · 0 Comments

From our global interactions with many firefighters from the UK, USA, Middle East, Australia and beyond, there are two main schools of thought – the first being “I don’t care about fancy nozzles and techniques, I just want to get lots of water on the fire” and the other, “there’s no use getting lots of water on the fire if you don’t have well practiced and scientifically proven techniques”.

What’s common to both of these approaches is simply ‘water on the fire’ and no one can argue that this isn’t key to a good result when it comes to the task of fire fighting.

It doesn’t take many clicks on YouTube to find the arrival and first actions of firefighters being heavily criticised in the comments section. While the language can sometimes be colourful, the underlying message is usually “why did it take so long to get water on the fire?”

The speed and amount of water that gets to the fire or the weight-of-attack is dependent on many variables, with hose management being one of the main contributing factors and one we’re interested in at QuickLay Fire Attack. We have come to the conclusion that common to every incident, be it an oil rig, house or boat fire – there are two standard requirements in regards to managing hose.

These include:

  1. The need to stretch hose between the water supply and the smoke barrier or fire containment point and;
  2. The need to deploy enough hose into a coil so the firefighters can advance into the fire without becoming snagged or caught up by excessive friction caused by long lengths of heavy hose laid outside, up or down halls and stairs.

Stretching hose over a distance is a fairly straightforward task, however, under duress and in the dark it can sometimes end up in a mess of hose and not much distance covered. Straps will hold hose neatly; however, when the bundle is dropped or the load is partly deployed it loses its form and becomes a liability.

With increasing acceptance of the Cleveland Hose Load, also called the coil or the roundabout” hose load; it is possible to deploy enough hose close to the entry point, so it can be easily advanced into the fire. However, a hose strapped in the coil can be very temperamental, losing its form if dropped and can also suffer a catastrophic failure should one end inadvertently thread under one loop before the hose is charged.

Furthermore, while 30m/100ft of coiled hose is great, if two thirds of it remains coiled back at the standpipe even before the firefighters are through the door then there’s still the issue of dragging a lot of hose.

Purpose built fire hose deployment packs

Following four years of research and development while consulting with firefighters from all over the world we have created a suite of very simple packs that store and deploy hose in such a way that meets these two requirements while at the same time protecting the equipment in storage and transport. In addition, by design the equipment is ergonomic – being long and thin – and fits next to the firefighter’s breathing apparatus set, dramatically decreasing the impact of the load on the firefight- er’s centre of gravity.

Research and Development

Core to our testing was the importance of reliability – not in the drill yard but in limited visibility, high pressure and usually complex situations with gloved hands after a multi-level stair climb.

  • Stowage – Space is king on a fire engine so an underpinning design intention was to keep things tight and compact while not jeopardising the act of deliberately deploying the equipment.
  • Transport – ‘Bounce’ is the term we have used to describe what happens when a piece of equipment is seemingly secured however when carried it bounces and gradually comes loose and starts to hit knees, knock out teeth or cause unnecessary damage to the built environment.
  • Deployment – As already mentioned, the two packs have very clear roles and subsequently are packed differently so as to achieve their purpose. Critical to the success was the guarantee that all equipment will hold tight, however definitely deploy as and when expected.
  • Intuitive design – The role of each pack has been made very obvious. The pack that lays from the water supply is blue for water and the pack that deploys close to the entry point is red for fire. While this sounds obvious, it means fire fighters can perform their duties with the discussion being centred on the as-yet unknowns of the incident.
  • Implementation – To assist with the implementation and skills maintenance we have produced a phone-site (similar to a smartphone app), which will work on all devices so long as they’re connected to the Internet. Here we have packing, deployment and application demonstrations. This portal can be accessed at www.qlfanow.com
  • One size fits all – In order to fit all types and sizes of hose, nozzles, dividers/wyes and associated equipment we built in the ability to adjust pockets to fit as required.
  • Equipment – Depending on many variables, different departments run with different pieces of equipment and to accommodate this we have built in a removable cover for a gated divider/wye.
  • Operations – While the hose lay requirement is ultimately the same, no two incidents are. It is therefore important that firefight- ers maximise the capability of their equipment.

Attack Pack

  • Can stand up on its side and be held or lent against a wall
  • Can be deployed in a platform cage and advanced from within
  • Can be deployed then dragged fully in its coils
  • Will protect the hose ends from the hose load so as to avoid a thumb/overhand knot forming
  • Will not fall apart if dropped
  • Can store a coil that is big enough to expand into a kink-free coil yet pack down small enough that it’s easy to carry

Lay Pack

  • Stores a pre-connected gated-wye
  • Can be advanced from either end
  • Will not lose its form as the hose load lays
  • Can be dropped or thrown over a balcony or across a gap
  • Can be deployed lengths

Following this testing we have added a hose- securing strap and door wedge pockets as well as streamline pockets for other equipment specific to the department. While the two packs combine to provide what is easily compartmentalised as a “high-rise kit” they actually combine to form a system to deploy hose in any environment where there’s a need for a lot of hose quickly and not a lot of space to do it.

These include courtyards, hallways or even the top landing of aviation rescue stairs.

We are often asked to bolt on entry-tools and even a fire extinguisher and while this would be possible we feel and the general belief is these two packs combine to form a tool specific to the task of rapid and reliable fire hose deployment.

We want to avoid the tool morphing into a lesser performing tool-box with diluted applications.

With this understanding and the purpose designed equipment, firefighters can arrive and intuitively stretch and coil hose with the focus being on the true-unknowns of the job and hopefully get water on the fire fast.

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Why dont you use straps?

Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 29 August 2013
in Water on the Fire · 0 Comments

"Why don't you just use straps?"

Is a question we sometimes get!

The best way to appreciate the bigger picture is to consider the value of a firefighter's helmet. I personally have worn my helmet for 12 years and for the first time only 3 months ago did it actually do its job and protect my head from a falling garage door while operating in an underground car park fire- absolutely saving my life.

For 11 or so years prior to this nothing fell on my head but the one time it did the total cost of the few helmets I've had paid for themselves with my life.

So yes, you can just use a set of straps and generally they will hold the hose...

But what if?

  • You trip and drop the load and it looses its form?
  • You want to throw the whole load across a gap to a boat or building and the exposed hose gets snagged?
  • You want to only deploy half the hose, not the whole hose, causing the remaining half to loose its form?
  • You want to be able to open the the locker on the pumper and know the load will definitely be good-to-go?
  • You need to deploy hose in poor visibility?
  • You arrive at a big job with people you've not worked with before and want to be tasked based on the pack you have - not a long discussion?
  • You want to feed the neatly packed hose through a gap or under/over a fence?
  • You're working with a crew you don't know and they have a different way of strapping the hose?
  • You just want to become really efficient with a dedicated piece equipment that's been tried and tested and designed for one task...

In these very possible scenarios straps just don't cut it.

In my last article I discussed the The Cleveland Hose Load and specifically why it's great as well as its inherent shortcomings-

If you add the use of straps there's a whole lot more to consider with the Cleveland Hose Load, most importantly:

  • The thumb knot or Overhand Knot.

The Attack Pack deliberately isolates the two hose ends from the main body of the hose, this prevents the catastrophic failure caused when one hose end pops under one or more coils forming a simple but show-stopping thumb knot.

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Posted by Sebastian Jacobs
Sebastian Jacobs
Keen Australian based fire fighter
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 27 August 2013
in Water on the Fire · 0 Comments

One method - many names!

It has lots of names and just as many origins- the act of wrapping the first bite of hose back on itself (about 1.8m) and continuing to wrap until there's about 1m left.

This is commonly called the Cleveland Hose Load, the Round About Hose Load, the Garden Lay etc etc - we're not certain of it's origin however the Cleveland State Forest fire fighters were said to employ the concept for deploying hose at wild fires (great idea!!!).

What we are certain about is it's great! Especially when used in conjunction with an initial flaked hose, as it's possible to stretch and coil 2 lengths of hose just as quickly as the ground between the water supply and the fire can be covered.

We are often asked why we don't just have two packs holding coiled hose and not bother with the flaked hose pack, which on face-value- having two hoses rapidly deployed in a tight area sounds like a good thing- but it's not, or at least we don't think so.

For all its amazing benefits the Cleveland Hose Load has a few short comings which are inherent to the nature of lay-flat hose.

  1. Hose stored in the Cleveland Hose Load should not be run out from it's coiled position until it's full of water- this is because it will twist as it unravels from the coil and when the water is introduced the nozzle/branch will untwist. For this reason the line cannot be advanced until it's full of water.
  2. When deployed in the right position (near to the fire) the Cleveland Hose Load is easily advanced from its tight coil into the burning environment. However if two Cleveland Hose Loads are deployed together too far away, then the ease-of-advancement is burnt up in the distance between the supply and the fire. Then on entry, we are back to the original problem of lots of heavy hose outside.

To solve these problems we have developed a second pack (Lay Pack) designed to cover the distance between the water supply and the coiled hose.

When the two packs are used together, the distance between the fire and supply can be covered in either a forward or reverse direction (depending on the job) and hose deployed into a coil from the Attack Pack can be advanced into the burning environment.

For scenarios where there's a lay flat hose already positioned for each hydrant we have developed the Compack - it too stores and deploys the Cleveland Hose Load in one movement and is stored in more of a square shaped pack so it can fit in traditional fire hose cabinets.

The benefits of a coiled hose deployed in a lift lobby or stairwell environment far outweigh the current hose-rack flaked hoses as it can be deployed almost instantly and does not need to be stretched up and back in limited spaces.

  1. In this scenario the Attack Packs holding the coil are deployed near to the fire.

  2. Where the Lay Packs have been stretched up or down the stairs, to or from the water supply.

 

 

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