National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System:Charge the Line…Slowly

This week’s report takes place at a drill tower, but this type of incident is just as easily encountered at the incident scene and the company drill. The multi-task drill is a variety of skills that can be developed and taught; this is standard practice for fire departments. Addressing the multiple needs of firefighters in any given department and the goals of a progressive department’s training program demand that “training multi-tasking” be conducted.

“While conducting an engine company class, we were doing some high-rise evolutions. We had two crews working simultaneously‚Ķ the second engine company was responsible for fire attack on the fourth floor using a three-inch leader line that was secured to the fire escape after it had been hoisted via a hook.”

“After the line had been secured, the driver-operator trainee charged the line. Instead of charging slowly, he may have charged it to 150 psi rapidly, allowing the line to fill at a high rate. The line may not have been properly secured. The violent reaction caused the gated wye on the leader line to move wildly. The reaction pushed one of the firefighters on division four…”

The whipping effect of an unsecured hoseline can severely injure anyone it strikes. Preventing the whipping effect is most frequently accomplished by slowly opening and closing all valves. Developing the muscle memory necessary to overcome the pressure on a valve is a learned experience. Many have experienced the sensation of pushing or pulling to try to open a valve. First efforts frequently result in a water hammer that makes the rig jump or bucks the nozzle team. Over time we develop a sense of knowing when to exert force and then ease off so the valve opens or closes smoothly. However, in the event that a “newbie” or “rookie driver” is mastering the skill, instructors at all levels of a multi-task drill must be on guard for the water hammer. Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

1. What tips can you pass along to a new engineer to avoid the water hammer?
2. In this week’s report, what options are available to ensure the water hammer does not occur?
3. Should someone act as site safety officer for a multi-company drill to ensure all lines are secured, ladders locked, new pump operator supervised, etc.?
4. How many places should the 3″ line be secured if it is tied to a four-story fire escape?
5. What should the pump pressure be to adequately deliver a minimum flow of 200gpm to the fourth floor?

Have you been struck or nearly struck by a charged hoseline? Get your account posted to today and prevent the occurrence from ruining someone else’s day.

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.

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