Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mayday...Who, What, Where

WTGB-Calling the Mayday...Who, What and Where:

Versatility In Leadership

Today I want to talk about the importance of being “Versatile” as a Chief/Company Officer.  As I have said previously at several training sessions, it is important for officers to be in this job for the community and not yourself.  Training and education are very important in this business as positive reinforcement is key for the community to ensure they feel they are getting a good rate of return for your services.

Versatility is defined as an individual that has competency in many areas, and the ability to apply themselves in different manners.  As fire service leaders, we have a responsibility in many areas.  Over the years, we have been given many more tasks in the fire service than just fighting fires and going to motor vehicle accidents.  Since 911, we have taken on a greater role in EMS, hazardous materials, technical rescue, and now active shooter incidents.

We as leaders must be knowledgeable in our craft, which means we have worked incidents from all types, in all positions.  Why must we be versatile?  Well…as a leader, you must understand the needs of your department and what your personnel are asking for.  It is very discouraging when you approach your leaders about a new tool or equipment, and you’re asked why you need that.  Nothing irritates me more than a Chief who has no idea what you are talking about or asking for.  What about that day you’re driving your buggy down Main Street and communications puts a box out and you are first arriving??  How are you going to react?

We as fire service leaders must be competent incident managers.  This quality trait is only learned through extensive experience throughout years and real incidents.  You may be asking “why is this important”?  Well…when you are the Chief, you are the policy maker.  You must know and understand the need for creating Incident Management policies and ensuring your whole department and officers operate in the same manner.  There is nothing more irritating than confusion on the fire ground.  As company officers, it is our job to see that those policies and guidelines are carried out on the fire ground to create the success!

We as fire service leaders must be politicians, planners, and project coordinators.  You hold the key to success for your organization.  This can only be done by passionate and pro-active leaders.  You must hold positive relationships with the people you work for and the people who work for you.  You must plan for the future, creating plans, and selling yourself for the future of the department.  In order to sell yourself, it is important to have done your homework.  By doing your homework and research, you will portray yourself as confident and knowledgeable.  Do not be that guy wearing the white shirt who cannot answer questions as to why, especially when everyone is watching.

I hope that you can see where I am going with this article…Be pro-active and do not hide behind your desk.  Make sure your apparatus is getting tested on a yearly basis, do not change uniforms every year; just to say you did something, keep the pride and morale up in your department, and lead from the front…the only way!

~Jeremy Rebok~

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pennington: What Have You Done?

What have you done for your department today? Have you done something today to make your department better? I had never really thought of this concept and how to apply it until I had the honor of interviewing Kentland Fire Chief Tony Kelleher. I asked the chief how he kept his crews so motivated. He went on to explain that each member asks themselves this very question. “Even if you overhauled the engine of the ladder truck yesterday, what have you done for Kentland today?”
I must say that these few words rang like loud drums in this jumpseat rider’s ears. Bam! This is a concept that each and every firefighter who pulls on a pair of boots follows daily. Looking back on your last trip to the fire hall or shift, what did you do to make your department better?
While these are just words that anyone could speak, how can a jumpseat rider put them into action on a daily basis? Here are three that immediately came to this jumpseat rider’s mind:
  1. Learn something new every time you’re in the fire station
  2. Clean something that hasn't been touched in weeks
  3. Ask a senior member a question about your department’s history 
Learn Something New Every Time You’re In The Fire Station
Learning something new should be a constant goal. It doesn’t always have to be an earth shattering discovery. It could be something simple, like a new hose load or where the new piece of equipment has been mounted. These small things will make you more prepared and, in turn, make your department a better place. 

If you want to take it to the next level, search out a new topic or training idea and present it to the group. By taking the initiative and doing the research to make the firefighters more proficient or introduce them to a new skill, you will have made your department better while gaining the respect of your peers.

Clean Something That Hasn't Been Touched In Weeks
Keeping our equipment in jumpseat-ready condition should go unspoken in your department and in this blog, but unfortunately some equipment that doesn't get used often can become dirty and non-functional. How will this make your department look if you arrive on scene and discover that your airbags have a hole in them?  Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it could happen.

How do we keep this from happening? Go clean something, now!  Don’t choose the things that are used on a daily basis, choose the top shelf, back of the compartment equipment that may need some TLC. Spend some extra time with the tool and while cleaning it…review its applications and safety practices. It’s just that simple!

Ask A Senior Member About Your Department's History
Go find the most senior firefighter or officer in your department, pull up a chair, pour some hot coffee and listen. Ask them to explain something about your department and where it came from, for example, our department still uses a booster reel. The reason we started using them is the constant running of small rubbish fires throughout the city. We continue to use them for the same reason. 
By sitting down to ask this question, you will understand that they are ONLY used for rubbish fires and that all members understand their application and limitations. Understanding the why with the how is important for two reasons. One, you know where it came from. Two, you understand or can challenge it’s place in the future of your department. Have an open mind and a closed mouth as you soak in the experience.

Make sure that you are always putting the needs of the many over the needs of the few. Taking Kentland Chief Kelleher’s approach to your time in the fire station will place the needs of the many first. Imagine if all your members took this approach and applied it each and every day?  Would your department be a better place? I vote yes!  Starting with the guy writing this article, I plan to listen and take the chief’s advice. Today, “I learned…”, ‘I cleaned out…”, and “I talked to…” will be in my vocabulary after every shift.

CAT Tourniquet

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two-Inch Hose: the Lightweight Preconnected Little Big Line

The concept behind having a preconnected handline is to facilitate quick deployment for a quick attack.

Most pumpers are set up with two types of preconnects: one for what I like to call medium flows of 100 to 185 gallons per minute (gpm) and the other for large flows ranging from 250 to 500 gpm. The high end of the large-flow handline is normally 325 gpm. However, there are a few exceptions. Flows will sometimes reach 500 gpm, but that is more the exception than the rule. The main reason for having a large-flow preconnect is to make a quick large-flow attack on a significant fire to achieve a quick knockdown. This is usually done by the first-in unit. When it comes to large-flow handlines, the 2½-inch hose has always been the weapon of choice, because its lower friction loss capabilities allow for more flow. The drawback to using 2½-inch line is that it is heavy, making it tough to deploy, especially in a quick-attack mode. It is also pretty difficult to move around after it is charged. Because of these negative traits, firefighters will tend to not choose the 2½-inch line. The end result is that firefighters will pull smaller lines, delivering lower than required flows.
This article focuses on the large-flow preconnected handline with a different twist to it: using two-inch hose for the preconnected high-flow handline to make this big-hit line easier to deploy.

Why Two-Inch?

Two-inch hose has been around for several years. The advantages have been for slightly elevated flow and reduced pump discharge pressure (PDP), which reduces engine rpm, reducing wear and tear on the equipment.
The question that comes to mind is whether a two-inch attack line will provide the flows that a 2½-inch line can produce. In the majority of the cases, I would say yes. Take a look at the 2½-inch nozzles in use today. You will find that the majority have flows that top out at 300 to 325 gpm.
The reason for going to two-inch hose is to make hose deployment easier-especially for one firefighter. Whether the staffing on your engine company is four firefighters, three firefighters, or even two firefighters, when a first-in engine company is faced with enough fire to warrant the initial line being a 2½-inch, let's face it-you don't have enough people. This is where the two-inch line comes into play.
The flow tests comparing two-inch and 2 half-inch hoselines used smooth bore nozzles
The flow tests comparing two-inch and 2½-inch hoselines used
smooth bore nozzles. Because the two-inch will have a higher
friction loss at high flows, a nozzle with a low nozzle pressure
keeps the overall discharge pressure as low as possible. (Photos
by author.)

Flow Study

Charts 1 and 2 show 2½-inch and two-inch lines at 200 feet with corresponding flows and PDPs. The two-inch hose is manufactured by Key Fire Hose and is the ECO-10 line. We tested the standard two-inch with 1½-inch couplings weighing 20 pounds per 50-foot section as well as two-inch hose with 2½-inch couplings, which is a new concept. The reason for the 2½-inch couplings is to reduce the friction loss. The tradeoff is two more pounds for the larger couplings (22 pounds total).
The nozzles used for this test are smooth bore tips for a 50-psi nozzle pressure. Because the two-inch will have a higher friction loss at the high flows we tried to achieve, a nozzle with a low nozzle pressure kept the overall discharge pressure as low as possible. The flows for the 2½-inch started at 265 gpm because it is considered a high-flow handline. The flows for the two-inch start at 185 gpm because this line can be used for both low- and high-flow operations-185, 210, 265, 325, and 400 gpm.
Referring to charts 1 and 2, the two-inch hose matched 2½-inch hose in every flow category. The tradeoff for the lighter and easier-to-deploy hose was a higher PDP because two-inch hose has a higher friction loss than 2½-inch hose. Should the higher PDP be a big concern? I say no. First, it's important to understand that the higher pressure used on the hose itself is well within the pressure capabilities for which the two-inch hose is designed. The most common hose pressure ratings for attack line hose include a 1,200-pound-per-square-inch (psi) burst pressure and a 400-psi annual test pressure. According to that National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), this means the hose can be used at up to 360 psi on the fireground. We did not get anywhere close to 360 psi on any of the lines we tested. The stopping point was 220 psi. The average rpm range for the two-inch line was 1,700 to about 1,800 rpm.
The two-inch hose was able to match the 2 half-inch hose in every flow category
The two-inch hose was able to match the 2½-inch hose in every
flow category. The tradeoff for the lighter and easier-to-deploy
hose is that a two-inch hose requires a higher pump discharge
pressure because it has a higher friction loss than 2½-inch hose.
Note the difference in PDP with the two types of two-inch equipped with 1½-inch and 2½-inch couplings. There was a 40-psi reduction in the PDP flowing 325 and 400 gpm by using the 2½-inch couplings. It seems that the real advantage of the 2½-inch couplings kicks in at 325 gpm.
One thing to add about the flow tests is that the nozzle reaction for flows above 250 gpm with the two-inch hose was severe enough to cause the hose to buckle right at the nozzle. Because the two-inch hose is smaller than the 2½-inch line, it does not handle the nozzle reaction as well. The 2½-inch hose did not have a problem with nozzle reaction at all. Keeping that in mind, we decided to use a short piece of 2½-inch five feet long at the end of the two-inch handline for the sole purpose of absorbing nozzle reaction to assist the firefighter with handling the high flows. It worked great.
When using two-inch hose in conjunction with 1½-inch couplings, it's important to remember that the standard for the small handline preconnect plumbing is two inches, which will not be able to support the flows needed for a high-flow handline, at least efficiently. Therefore, it is crucial to connect the two-inch line to a to a 2½-inch discharge-whether it be a standard 2½-inch or one that is designed for a 2½-inch preconnect.
The two-inch hose was able to match the 2 half-inch hose in every flow category
Because the two-inch hose is smaller than the 2½-inch line, it
does not handle nozzle reaction as well. The 2½-inch hose did not
have a problem with nozzle reaction at all. Keeping that in mind,
crews used a short piece of 2½-inch line five feet long at the end
of the two-inch handline for the sole purpose of absorbing nozzle
reaction to handle the high flows.

Strive for Improvement

Striving to do a better job means being able to constantly review and change things as needed. The 2½-inch preconnect has been a great tool for initial attack on a large volume of fire. In reviewing the big line, one area of improvement identified was deploying and delivering the 2½-inch line's big water capability. Two-inch hose is a fix for this problem. As firefighters, we need to always look to improve our work environment. Just because it has worked in the past doesn't mean it can't be done better.

PAUL SHAPIRO is director of Fire Flow Technology. He is a nationally recognized instructor on large-flow water delivery. He is also a retired engineer from the Las Vegas (NV) Fire Department. He has authored numerous articles for fire trade magazines.