Engine Company, Firefighting, Health & Safety, Structural Firefighting

National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Clogged Nozzles

There are few more helpless feelings than the sensation of the attack line you are advancing going limp. There are also few situations more stressful than standing at a pump panel and hearing the attack team call for water; and call for water; and call for water and the pump operator sees pressure on the gauges. Let’s take a look at how the crew in this week’s featured report dealt with an unwanted situation.

“We were dispatched and responded to a report of a vehicle fire in a two-stall attached garage. Upon arrival of the first due engine, the engine officer established command and made a report of a mini-van fire inside the attached garage…”

A two-man crew stretched a pre-connected 1-3/4″ hose line with an adjustable nozzle to extinguish the fire. They entered the garage through the large garage door, which was already open. They were never out of sight of the engine and visibility was good. Shortly after starting the fire attack, the hose crew started calling for more pressure. As the equipment operator, I increased the pressure about15 psi and waited for feedback. The attack crew again called for more pressure and I increased the pressure again. This happened a couple more times until the calls for pressure became more emotional and it was reported back to me that the attack crew was barely getting any water. At that time, I double checked all the gauges on the engine, which indicated plenty of pressure. I then followed the hoseline and could find no kinks and the line was very hard from the pressure…”

Re-establishing a dependable water flow quickly is of the utmost importance. This responsibility usually falls on the FAO. The experience related by the individual involved in this week’s report is a great example of how keeping an open mind and following procedures can result in a favorable outcome when seconds count. How are the FAOs in your department trained to react when the water stops flowing unexpectedly? Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE) and the related reports, consider the following:

1. What are some of the most common causes of obstructed hoselines?
2. Does your department include troubleshooting water flow problems in the training of FAOs?
3. What is the best course of action when you find yourself inside a structure fire with no water pressure?
4. What are some ways to help prevent clogged pumps and nozzles?
5. Are backup lines routinely included in the firefighting tactics of your department? 

Have you experienced a near miss due to loss of water? Submit your report to www.firefighternearmiss.com today to make a difference tomorrow.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.