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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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