Water Thief Drill

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
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Tactical Fire Problem – Vacant Factory

This week we are talking about an abandoned run down industrial property that could be found anywhere in the country.

Lets take a look.

The questions this week are not so much about individual tactics but more about strategies, and bigger picture thoughts.

1.) What is your department response to this facility? How many personnel will be needed?

2.) How well have you determined or preplan need your water supply issues for this building and others? We often handle so many 1-2 line fires, what is the experience level of our pump operators when we really need to flow large amounts of water? Ask your crew when the last time they were the operator for 3-4 big lines or ladder pipe operations. Set up a drill.

3.) What is your department plan for rehab and crew rotations?

4.) What is your plan for flying embers and brands?

I know of some Nw England cities that would look at this scenario and yawn, because they have handled so many large mill building fires like this, but the scenario this week is really a test for the small suburban department across middle America that does not have these every year.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

My Friend Jack

Many of my readers that follow any of the large blogs and websites will have heard of the passing this week of a well known fire instructor, Jack Peltier.

Jack was a lot of things to lots of people, to some a mentor and a teacher, to some the largest thorn in their side!

Jack was my friend. Jack helped my in some personal and professional ways, always behind the scenes. Jack stood by me and supported me through some very difficult times and did not care if he took an unpopular view or a difficult stance.

I will miss him for all he did for me, and for the curmudgeon that he could be.

We laid Jack to rest yesterday, may he rest in peace.

(I am sure heaven will be redesigned and no one there will again rest in peace, but heck that is Jack)

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Newtown Connecticut

As a fire and emergency service blogger I am still unsure what to write some 48 hours after the events of Friday.

Unimaginable is the word that comes to mind first.

My thoughts and prayers are with this families that have lost loved ones at this festive and usually joyous time of year.

My thoughts also go out to the firefighters, EMS workers and police officers who have had to respond to this horrific event. Their lives have now been changed forever. I have often said that firefighters and police officers who get paid and are full time, and our nations volunteer fire and EMS responders should not be paid and recognized for what they do…….they should be recognized for what they have agreed and they are willing to do. They have agreed to serve their community regardless of pay or not and they have agreed to handle anything that comes along.

New town is a small town. I am sure that the police, fire and EMS may have known children or may have even had children of their own in that school as they responded. They were there and agreed to protect all of the children of that community.

How much these responders in Connecticut have given us on Friday and through the many hours even to today.

Local governments sometimes do not appreciate the value that a strong prepared emergency service organization brings, until we react to event such as these.

As we all move forward, and we must move forward it is the only direction we have, please keep the families that lost loved ones and small children and other family members in our prayers, thoughts and hearts.

But as first responders, lets us remember our police and fire and EMS brothers and sisters who gave some much of themselves both physically, mentally and spiritually to help others.

We owe it to one another. If ever there was a time for the word Brotherhood, or Sisterhood, it is today.

When this incident unwinds over the next weeks we should think of things we can do to support them.

God Bless the community of Newtown Connecticut.

God Bless Cops, Firemen, and EMTS, and Medics.

God Bless us, everyone.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Some SCBA questions for review.

I am using the Essentials of Firefighting Manual 4th Edition and I will pose the following questions. If you can answer them fine, but the point is, you should use these as the basis for a drill for your people. We will do some detailed SCBA training in other posts but this is a little thought primer and review.

How much variation is accepted as a difference between a remote gauge and the cylinder gauge? Do you always check cylinder gauge before donning?

Name one situation where you should use the purge valve? ( And its not to clear your mask either!)

Approximately how many seconds does it take for a PASS device to activate?

How often are you supposed to retrain on the use of PASS devices? When was the last time you were trained on yours?

Can you manually operate your PASS device with a gloved hand without looking? ( Sounds like a good company drill to me, have everyone line up and see who is the quickest)

What percentage of cylinder capacity is considered full? What is the psi?

How often should scba be inspected? Have you read NFPA 1500 and 1404?

How do you clean and dry a facepiece?

How often do composite air cylinders have to be tested? What are the hydrostatic test dates on your cylinders?

How long should it take you to don an SCBA and be fully dressed in turnout gear ready to go? How long does it actually take?

Take these questions have a company drill, and review all of the answers with your personnel. It adds some flavor to the donning and doffing drills that become mundane.

When you are beginning the drill empty and lower the air pressure in a couple of spares before hand so as the drill progresses you can see if people are actually checking the cylinder gauge or are the just verbalizing it and not really checking.

Be sure all packs and cylinders are checked and ready to go at the completion of the drill.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Salvage training?


Salvage training what are you crazy, we don’t do that we barely have enough manpower to stretch lines, now you want us to throw covers! I want to throw up!

Wait………Don’t stop reading yet!

Salvage is an often neglected part of our job for those very reasons….we don’t do it often enough, and we can barely have the manpower to do everything else we are supposed to do.

This week I have some random disorganzied thoughts about salvage and a couple of interesting ideas for salvage drills.

Why the hell do we always teach and say Salvage and Overhaul? One doesn’t have as much to do with the other as we would believe and before I leave the fire service we might actually separate the two!

Some occupanices might require salvage to become a higher priority: These might include libraries, churches, city and town halls, museums where records and articatcs might in fact be irreplaceable. I am not suggesting that we lose any lives for property under any circumstances but it certainly moves salvage up on the priorities in any of the above mentioned occupancies.

Think about salvage considerations when you are shoveling out people’s possessions into the front yard. That couch with the quilt on it is a smoldering wreck and it’s in your way, but to the owner that is the quilt that now dead aunt Sadie crocheted by hand.

Salvage drills mostly consist of pulling the apparatus out, showing folds rolls etc., and maybe trying to cover some furniture strategically placed in the day room. While I know most of these are necessary and are recognized as skills we need, I have yet to be able to do the “two man, inflate a throw- balloon method” that they teach in the essentials manuals. Usually I knock over a precious vase and stain and or ruin the eight foot normal ceiling that prevents me from doing that in the first place!

Train on rolls and folds that one or two people can do easily.

Empty the apparatus room / bay. Take a 10 foot step ladder and have someone stand at the top of it with a garden hose. Have other members form teams. Give them a designated task like the following: This is an overhead light fixture or pipe leak and you are unable to shut off the flow: The water must be directed out a side door or window. After the instructions start a gentle flow of water from the garden hose and let the crews make chutes, use ladders, pike poles, and catchalls to direct and divert the flow. When they are done, roughly chalk out the amount of spill that hit the floor. Start the next team as the first and chalk out their puddle. The group with the smallest amount of water on the floor is the winner. Things like this make it interesting challenging and more real life and your personnel will become very creative in their methods.

Take a garden hose, adapt it to a piece of 3/4″ copper pipe about 10 feet long. Make an irregular slice in the pipe with a sawzall or make a series of pinholes. Have personnel control water flow. By rotating the pipe in different directions the problem becomes serious.

Use sprinkler props and leaking overhead sprinkler prop pipes for salvage drills.

Using a roscoe smoke machine have two firefighters enter an area that is moderately smoky and return with simulated valuable items they can carry: Have the area stocked with wallets, purse, phtographs, insurance policy documents, business records, leger books etc.and other props that you devise., and then review what areticles they retrieve and discuss them with the group. This gets them operating under a mask as well.

We do still say we protect life and property don’t we? Well salvage is the property piece and by a little creative thinking you can do some innovative salvage drills that will make your troops at least think about it and be prepared to act when needed.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Is There An App For That – Hybrid Extrication

The app for this week is a good one for a lot of reasons. First you would never be able to remember all of these makes and models without having some reference right there with you I the field. Having the ability to reference both an overhead view and a side view of critical items, like high voltage, CNG cylinders and air bags etc, will greatly aid in extricating and also provide for a great deal of responder safety as well.

Lets take a look.

The first screen gives you a scrollable menu of choices where you can pick the manufacturer.

After you have selected a particular manufacturer you are then taken to another scrollable screen for makes and models.

In most all cases you will be given an overhead or top down view and a small legend of what is being highlighted for you.

You will then be presented with a side or sectional view.

I believe that an app like this really capitalizes on the benefits of a smart phone for fire and police officers. This type of critical data can make a difference and save some lives.

It is intuitive and very easy to navigate around and there have been frequent updates since I have owned it, so they are trying to stay current.

Bottom line: This is a great app that has good data, that is very easy to use.

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com

Tactical Fire Problem – Trailer Park Wind Driven Fire

This week we are adding a different type of scenario. We have a trailer park, with a 20 MPH wind coming from the top left and blowing toward the right and lower right. There has been some sort of explosion and you have multiple trailers damaged and on fire.

Take a look and give this one some thought.

1.) Under normal conditions, what is the average burn time like in these types of manufactured homes, or trailers?

2.) What is the water supply like in some of these trailer parks? Is it a private water system or a city maintained system, or will you rely on tankers? If you are using tankers what about the dump site and turning around in these congested areas?

3.) What size lines, and based upon the described weather, where would you place them?

4.) Fully involved trailers and bottled gas on each unit……how does that end?

5.) Take a ride through your mobile home parks if you have them. Can you maneuver apparatus and how will you decide if you are going to commit to a tightly congested area with these fire and wind conditions?

Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com