MAKING A MORE COMPACT HOTEL PACK

BY STEPHEN CHASE

Providing for adequate storage space is a great challenge when designing and purchasing fire apparatus. The amount of equipment carried on apparatus has increased significantly in recent years. Unfortunately, the size of the apparatus is not growing as fast as the volume of equipment. Hence, better use of apparatus storage space is extremely important.

The Ashtabula (OH) Fire Department, for example, needed additional storage space for our lightweight fire hose. Our hotel packs retained a large amount of trapped air no matter how hard we tried to minimize the trapped air during packing. We tried numerous methods to eliminate the air; none were fully effective.

One day, a solution came to me: Why not use a simple shop vacuum cleaner? The general procedure is to cap one end of the hose and evacuate the air from the other end with a shop vacuum. It might sound a little odd, but it works.

After a few trial runs, we developed a simple and effective technique. Measurements made before and after employing this technique showed that the space the hotel packs occupied was reduced by more than 50 percent. Even if storage space isn’t an issue, just think how much easier it would be to carry a much more compact hose pack.

Start the evolution by stretching the hose its entire length (photo 1). Lay the hose out straight and flat; any bends will inhibit removing the air.


(1) Photos by author.

The most efficient method is to vacuum the entire hotel pack as one long connected hose. For our department, that means connecting one 100-foot and one 50-foot section of hose. Our department uses both 1 1/2 – and 2 1/2 -inch hose hotel packs in this configuration. Although the technique will work with smaller sections, the hose must be clamped securely to prevent air infiltration while the additional sections are connected. One method we tried with some success was to triple-fold the hose and squeeze it tightly (photo 2).


(2)

With the hose stretched out and laid flat, place a cap or plug on one end and a nozzle on the other (photos 3, 4). We found that the two-inch vacuum hose of a shop vacuum fits perfectly over both 1 1/2 -inch and 2 1/2 -inch smoothbore nozzles. In fact, the fit is such that the vacuum hose stays firmly attached to the nozzle when the vacuum is turned on; there is no need to hold it.


(3)

 


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For nozzles on which the vacuum hose doesn’t fit, a little duct tape should suffice, or you may be forced to assemble your own adapter to make the connection. Using reducers and double males should allow for the attachment of a smaller nozzle. You might have to use a little imagination to find a suitable solution.

With the vacuum hose over the nozzle, turn on the vacuum. Moving the hose a little speeds up removal of the air. A simple tap with a boot is sufficient. In some instances, you may need to “squeegee” the hose with your fingers to remove all the trapped air (photo 5). It takes a few moments to remove all the air. It took up to a minute to remove the air from 150 feet of 2 1/2 -inch hose. It will be readily apparent when the air has been evacuated.


(5)

Next, pack the hose in whatever manner your department requires, starting from the capped end, working back to the vacuum hose end. Keep the vacuum stationary (photo 6). Otherwise, you will have to move the vacuum with the nozzle attached as you pack the hose. This is difficult, since you will have to have the vacuum cleaner on a long extension cord with someone tending the vacuum and the nozzle as you assemble the pack.


(6)

The best method is to leave the shop vacuum running throughout the packing evolution, which minimizes air infiltration into the hose. Once the hotel pack is completed, the folds within the pack will minimize the infiltration of air.

Using this technique offers dramatic results. Note the 2 1/2 -inch hose before (photo 7) and after vacuuming (photo 8). The difference in the hotel pack’s bulk before (photos 9) and after (photo 10) using this technique is equally remarkable.


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(8)

 


(9)

 


(10)

Author’s note: Thanks to Ashtabula Fire Department Lieutenant Denny Page, Engineer Roger Harrah, Engineer Mark Dalton, Firefighter Doug Roxberry, and Firefighter Matt Burgett, who assisted in developing the techniques described in this article.

STEPHEN CHASE is an engineer with the Ashtabula (OH) Fire Department, where he has served since 1996. In addition to being an Ohio-certified firefighter and emergency medical technician, he is a certified hazardous materials technician and a confined space rescue technician and is certified at the operations level in trench rescue, structural collapse rescue, and rope rescue.

MAKING A MORE COMPACT HOTEL PACK

BY STEPHEN CHASE

Providing for adequate storage space is a great challenge when designing and purchasing fire apparatus. The amount of equipment carried on apparatus has increased significantly in recent years. Unfortunately, the size of the apparatus is not growing as fast as the volume of equipment. Hence, better use of apparatus storage space is extremely important.

The Ashtabula (OH) Fire Department, for example, needed additional storage space for our lightweight fire hose. Our hotel packs retained a large amount of trapped air no matter how hard we tried to minimize the trapped air during packing. We tried numerous methods to eliminate the air; none were fully effective.

One day, a solution came to me: Why not use a simple shop vacuum cleaner? The general procedure is to cap one end of the hose and evacuate the air from the other end with a shop vacuum. It might sound a little odd, but it works.

After a few trial runs, we developed a simple and effective technique. Measurements made before and after employing this technique showed that the space the hotel packs occupied was reduced by more than 50 percent. Even if storage space isn’t an issue, just think how much easier it would be to carry a much more compact hose pack.

Start the evolution by stretching the hose its entire length (photo 1). Lay the hose out straight and flat; any bends will inhibit removing the air.


(1) Photos by author.

The most efficient method is to vacuum the entire hotel pack as one long connected hose. For our department, that means connecting one 100-foot and one 50-foot section of hose. Our department uses both 1 1/2 – and 2 1/2 -inch hose hotel packs in this configuration. Although the technique will work with smaller sections, the hose must be clamped securely to prevent air infiltration while the additional sections are connected. One method we tried with some success was to triple-fold the hose and squeeze it tightly (photo 2).


(2)

With the hose stretched out and laid flat, place a cap or plug on one end and a nozzle on the other (photos 3, 4). We found that the two-inch vacuum hose of a shop vacuum fits perfectly over both 1 1/2 -inch and 2 1/2 -inch smoothbore nozzles. In fact, the fit is such that the vacuum hose stays firmly attached to the nozzle when the vacuum is turned on; there is no need to hold it.


(3)

 


(4)

For nozzles on which the vacuum hose doesn’t fit, a little duct tape should suffice, or you may be forced to assemble your own adapter to make the connection. Using reducers and double males should allow for the attachment of a smaller nozzle. You might have to use a little imagination to find a suitable solution.

With the vacuum hose over the nozzle, turn on the vacuum. Moving the hose a little speeds up removal of the air. A simple tap with a boot is sufficient. In some instances, you may need to “squeegee” the hose with your fingers to remove all the trapped air (photo 5). It takes a few moments to remove all the air. It took up to a minute to remove the air from 150 feet of 2 1/2 -inch hose. It will be readily apparent when the air has been evacuated.


(5)

Next, pack the hose in whatever manner your department requires, starting from the capped end, working back to the vacuum hose end. Keep the vacuum stationary (photo 6). Otherwise, you will have to move the vacuum with the nozzle attached as you pack the hose. This is difficult, since you will have to have the vacuum cleaner on a long extension cord with someone tending the vacuum and the nozzle as you assemble the pack.


(6)

The best method is to leave the shop vacuum running throughout the packing evolution, which minimizes air infiltration into the hose. Once the hotel pack is completed, the folds within the pack will minimize the infiltration of air.

Using this technique offers dramatic results. Note the 2 1/2 -inch hose before (photo 7) and after vacuuming (photo 8). The difference in the hotel pack’s bulk before (photos 9) and after (photo 10) using this technique is equally remarkable.


(7)

 


(8)

 


(9)

 


(10)

Author’s note: Thanks to Ashtabula Fire Department Lieutenant Denny Page, Engineer Roger Harrah, Engineer Mark Dalton, Firefighter Doug Roxberry, and Firefighter Matt Burgett, who assisted in developing the techniques described in this article.

STEPHEN CHASE is an engineer with the Ashtabula (OH) Fire Department, where he has served since 1996. In addition to being an Ohio-certified firefighter and emergency medical technician, he is a certified hazardous materials technician and a confined space rescue technician and is certified at the operations level in trench rescue, structural collapse rescue, and rope rescue.