Just a quick little discussion this week on the use of the water thief. Most folks are familiar with this term and usually relate to LDH and supply lines. Here is the device I am talking about.
I actually like this particular model because of the reinforced leather carrying handle and its lighter weight construction. (There are plenty of old gigantic brass ones kicking around firehouses) as you can see you have a 2 1/2″ line in and out controlled by a valve and 2 1 3/4″ lines out controlled by valves.
It is my belief that these should be on every engine company and on a ladder company to be used in conjunction with high rise packs. Just some random thoughts in no particular order about the water thief.
It gives a great advantage when making a stretch into a large Commericial structure. You lead in by pulling the 2 1/2″ pre connected line, remove the nozzle and leave it at the gate and then follow up with 2 high rise packs. My thought is you should probably just continue with the big line but if you feel you can do it with inch and three quarters you have the option.
If the situation escalates you have the nozzle for the big line there you just bring in more big line to complete the stretch and you are ready to go.
In the reverse situation the thief can be used when you have completed knocking down the fire with the big line you can reduce to the smaller lines and still have the piece of mine that the big line is there.
Having a shut off inside the building can be an advantage. (There are also some risks to this but that is the topic for another blog post. These valves can be kicked or snagged and accidentally shut off if not monitored .)
The thief can be used to obviously split directions if need be and remain as a single point of escape and return by following the big line back out.
Some thoughts for training:
Practice pulling your 2 1/2″ pure connect and attaching the thief and extending a high rise pack off of that. Time the drill.
Do the drill wearing blackout masks under air.
Call for additional 100 feet of big line and make the extension stretch.
Talk with your pump operators about how to pump this appliance and check your flows with flow meters to see what it does.
I think the device is under utilized in the service today. In my mind the fire scene has always been about versatility and options and the water thief certainly gives you some choices. I know of departments today where these devices were purchased to be kept attached on a big line for a stretch into commercials and company officers who did to understand the concepts cast them aside into a compartment, never to be seen again.
Remember, not all thiefs are bad thiefs!
Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
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