Prepare to Ensure a Sufficient Water Supply

Our activities before, during, and after an incident all directly affect our relationship with our customers. Effective tactics that reduce fire damage and thorough overhaul practices that preserve valuable property and sentimental items affect customer service and public perception. Preincident activities, such as an aggressive fire education program, help our customers to protect themselves and their property from fire; postincident programs, such as juvenile firesetters and After the Fire programs, seek to prevent fire deaths, injuries, and property damage in our community. Not all benefits, however, can be measured by monetary standards.

In many areas, the fire department is unappreciated and rarely credited for its service to the community. Often, it is criticized when something goes wrong and heralded for heroic efforts, and it is the first public service agency whose budget is scrutinized during the municipal budget development period. In many areas, the fire department is seen as a financially burdensome service.

Public services, however, never were intended to be money-makers. Fire departments, career and volunteer, must consistently market their services to gain municipal and public support. Most times, citizens will not truly appreciate what the fire department does until they experience a fire or other emergency in which the fire department intervenes.

INSURANCE SERVICES OFFICE (ISO)

One way a fire department can show homeowners and business owners in its jurisdiction a tangible benefit without their having to experience an emergency is to improve its Public Protection Classification (PPC) through the Insurance Services Office (ISO). The ISO is an independent organization that collects and analyzes information pertaining to a community’s ability to protect its citizens and property against fire. Certain factors are evaluated and compared with those on a preestablished rating schedule, and the community is assigned a PPC rating based on a scale of 1 (exemplary fire protection capability) to 10 (the fire protection system does not meet the minimum criteria).

The potential benefit for the community is lower fire insurance rates; the rationale is that a preferred PPC rating system will lead to lower fire losses. A study conducted by ISO, based on incidents recorded by insurance companies between 1994 and 1998, showed that on average fire losses in a PPC 9 community were 65 percent higher than those in PPC 5 communities, demonstrating a direct relationship of higher fire loss for a community with a less desirable PPC than one with an improved PPC. Many insurance companies use the ISO PPC to establish fire insurance premiums for businesses and homes. ISO has evaluated more than 45,000 fire districts across the United States.

FIRE SUPPRESSION RATING SCHEDULE

The ISO evaluation process involves evaluating a community’s fire suppression system in accordance with three general categories established in the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS): Receiving and Handling of Fire Alarms (10 percent of the FSRS score), Fire Department (50 percent of the score), and Water Supply (40 percent of the score).

Fire Department

The fire department is judged on eight criteria. The component with the greatest weighted value, 15 percent of the FSRS score, is the number of personnel available for a first alarm, including the response time of personnel in volunteer organizations

The next component, training (nine percent of the score), includes the quality of the training facilities and programs, personnel development, knowledge of the response district, and prefire planning efforts.

The ability to achieve required fire flows for the community’s target hazards (10 percent of the score) considers the number of in-service pumpers available and the equipment’s state of readiness. Additionally, pump capacity (the capabilities of in-service and reserve pump apparatus and their combined fire flow and ladder/service capabilities) and the number and type of special service units evaluated in relation to building heights, needed fire flow, and the type of jurisdiction served, each account for five percent-10 percent total-of the FSRS score.

Representing four percent of the score is how the fire equipment is distributed in the locality-where the fire companies are located, for example. Pumpers should be a maximum of 1.5 miles apart and ladder/service apparatus 2.5 miles.

Rounding out this category score-one point for each-are the components of reserve pumpers and reserve ladder/service units. They should be adequate and ready for use should units in the standard fleet go out of service.

Water Supply

This category has three criteria: Water Supply, Hydrant-Design Capacity, and Hydrant-Inspection/Condition. Water supply (35 percent of the FSRS score) encompasses adequate fire flows, water main capacities, and fire hydrant distribution. Up to three percent of this category’s score can be assigned to the hydrant system’s condition and maintenance status. Hydrant size and capacity account for two percent of the score.

Fire Alarms

This category, although it accounts for only 10 percent of the FSRS score, should be carefully evaluated. Its components include the manner in which alarms are received (maximum two percent of score), the number of telecommunicators needed (three percent of score) vs. the number available, and the dispatch circuits in place to notify personnel of alarms (five percent of score).

All categories in the FSRS evaluation are equally important. They comprise the system. If one component of the system-be it dispatch or water supply or equipment or anything else-is substandard or inadequate, the public cannot be fully protected.

FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEM

This PPC methodology enables ISO to develop and accurately measure a community’s fire suppression system. This process and criteria associated with the FSRS and PPC are far more comprehensive than described in this article.

The community classification in a PPC allows the community and fire department leaders to develop plans for improving the “system.” Short- and long-range plans, based on identified deficiencies, can be developed, and the findings can be used to justify the procurement of facilities, equipment, and training.

The FSRS, however, is biased toward areas with hydrants. Thirty-five percent of the overall rating is based on hydrant design, distribution, and capability. Communities in a rural setting where there are no hydrants are not eligible to receive any points under this category. Also, no matter how well prepared the rural fire service system is to deliver and sustain predetermined water supply, the community will not receive points that would improve its PPC. The ISO has initiated a pilot program, discussed below, to address this matter.

Several factors affect water supply regardless of the community’s disposition. In areas with municipal water systems, the ability to protect target hazards is influenced by the water main size and capacity as well as fire hydrant size, type, and distribution. Just because a community has a hydrant system does not mean that sufficient water is available for adequate fire flows. In a rural area, water supply locations, the quantity of water available at different times of the year, the ability to retrieve, and the process of delivery are limiting and critical aspects in fire protection.

Needed Fire Flow (NFF)

To successfully extinguish a fire, a community must have the adequate supply of water and must be able to effectively apply it. Preplanning is essential to estimate the amount of water that should be available. When established, fire departments must practice and refine their skills so they can deliver sufficient quantities of water.

The Water Supply section of the ISO FSRS presents a methodology for determining the quantities of water needed for specific target hazards. The process, Needed Fire Flow (NFF), encompasses many factors that will not be discussed in detail in this article.

The NFF considers several factors used in a mathematical formula to determine the fire flow in gallons per minute (gpm): construction type, occupancy classification, exposures, and how (if applicable) buildings may be connected to other buildings, which could be a catalyst for extension. Using ISO’s Guide for Determination of Needed Fire Flow, each factor has specific criteria, assigned numerical values, which are calculated into the resulting NFF.

The NFF, as part of the FSRS, is judged against a fire service system’s ability to deliver and maintain the NFF. The NFF figure analyzed is that for the community’s fifth largest target hazard, not the largest. ISO then uses the NFF to determine the number of apparatus, including the pump size of the pumpers, as well as other equipment to meet the NFF. The NFF is then compared against the water supply system’s ability to provide the flow calculation. Using a ratio calculation, points are credited accordingly within the FSRS parameters.

ALTERNATIVE WATER SUPPLY PROGRAM (AWS)

The ISO, through the efforts of Dr. Harry E. Hickey, is developing a pilot water supply program, the Alternative Water Supply Program (AWS), to help fire departments improve their PPC rating. The AWS initiative is based primarily around fire departments with a hydrant system. It addresses areas that have deficient systems because of the items mentioned earlier or that are unable to meet needed fire flows for target hazards. The AWS is a systematic means for using mobile water tankers to meet the NFF and is separate from the hydrant system. To support the AWS, the hydrant system is not used to support the mobile water tanker shuttle process. An independent water source must be identified and used.

The AWS may be culture shock to some fire chiefs accustomed solely to using a hydrant system. It requires that fire officials in some communities change their philosophy in water supply capabilities and delivery. Reevaluation, establishing special resource lists, and implementing additional training are needed to understand the AWS process, which also promotes preplanning activities so that community fire officials can ascertain NFFs within their community.

Another goal of the AWS is to improve the PPC for rural communities. As stated earlier, the FSRS and PPC are heavily weighted for areas with a hydrant system. So, even if a rural community has a well-established water supply delivery system (as demonstrated in an exercise highlighted in my article ”Water Supply Preincident Intelligence,” Fire Engineering, October 2005), it receives no credit. Most rural communities have a PPC 9 rating. (Communities with lower PPC ratings are considered for lower insurance premiums.)

ISO officials are working toward prescribing a subsidiary PPC class, 8B, to recognize rural communities that, through the use of AWS practices, are able to satisfactorily demonstrate the delivery and maintenance of NFF. Meeting these criteria and receiving a lower PPC will potentially reduce insurance premiums for those communities, resulting in a tangible benefit to the community and an improvement in public relations and customer service between the fire department and the community.

PROCESS EVALUATION

It is necessary to test a system to realize its effectiveness and make adjustments. The fire service has not concentrated on determining an NFF. Like any other aspect of the fire service, training and drills are needed to reinforce these skills and determine areas for improvement.

Most fire departments conduct weekly training sessions to reinforce techniques needed for search and rescue, hoseline management, vehicle extrication, and other functions. Sometimes water supply is addressed, but in many cases the goal is to ensure that the pump operator can get water to the hose. Rarely do they test the ability to sustain a set gallonage for a length of time. This is a basic and critical element in successfully bringing a fire under control.

Often in news reports, fire officers are quoted as saying they did not have enough water. You must preplan the NFF and develop and practice means to ensure that you will have the water you need for target hazards in your district should a fire occur. You must practice this skill, evaluate the results of your tests/drills against the predetermined requirements, and correct deficiencies immediately.

UNDERSTANDING RESOURCE CAPABILITIES

A key factor for a successful outcome of an incident is knowing the capabilities of your personnel and your apparatus. Capabilities relative to aerial apparatus includes the reach of the device. For pumpers, you must consider pump capacities and other aspects including tank size and hose complement.

The basic premise of the AWS initiative is to use mobile water tankers in conjunction with hydrant system operations to sustain the NFF. Although one performance measure of a tanker is the size of its water tank, other parameters affect how effectively the water will be delivered. Off-load mechanisms, piping, and operator proficiency influence how effective a tanker is at “dropping” its load for use at a fire.

CASE STUDY

Lancaster County was selected as a test site for the ISO AWS program. The county is 949 square miles with a population of just under 500,000 residents. Known for its agricultural industry as well as its Amish population, the county has its share of large industry and densely populated regions. The county is protected by 80 independent fire departments; all but one is totally volunteer. There are 44 mobile water tankers among the 80 departments.

In November 2005, all 44 county tankers were requested to participate in an evaluation session. Each tanker’s dump and fill times were evaluated based on ISO’s Fill Test Procedure. The procedure evaluates the dump time of the water tanker and the refill operation. The evaluation site was arranged as follows:

Dump Site Timing

  1. From a designated starting point, each tanker traveled 200 feet to a dump site. On reaching the dump site, each tanker released its inventory. After dumping its load, the tanker traveled 200 feet to a stopping point.
  2. When the stop point was reached, the timing process was stopped.

Fill Site Timing

  1. From a designated point, each tanker traveled 200 feet to a fill site location.
  2. The tanker crew dismounted and attached supply hose from the supply engine. When the hoses were attached, the fill engine operator was instructed to fill the tanker.
  3. When the tank was full, the hoses were disconnected, and the tanker traveled to a stopping point at 200 feet.
  4. When the stopping point was reached, the timing of the fill time was ended.

Dr. Hickey, an ISO representative, and a Pennsylvania State Fire Academy instructor certified to teach rural water supply maintained and verified the times.

The arrival times of the tankers were staggered so that tankers would be available to respond to emergencies in the area. All but one tanker were evaluated with varying timing results. The size and performance capabilities of the county tankers varied from a 6,000-gallon tractor-trailer tanker (photo 1) to a 1,800-gallon homemade unit (photo 2).


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Photos by author.

Another aspect of the evaluation was to ascertain if porta-tanks were carried on each tanker and, if so, their sizes. Seven of the 43 tankers were found not to carry a porta-tank. This factor can be critical when assigning units to specific water supply tasks.


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A local goal of the evolution was to establish a database that could be used in conjunction with a formula that would enable an incident commander to develop a tanker task force so that NFFs could be maintained. Distance and time are other factors that need to be considered.

A result of the evaluation was the development of a timing database of all the participating tankers. The spreadsheet of times was distributed to all county fire chiefs to consult when developing strategies and contingencies for moving the water supply.

Another objective was to develop a water supply delivery system. ISO would be able to apply this tested and verified information against the FSRS to improve the PPC. A benefit of this program is that department disposition does not matter. This process is applicable for hydranted areas as well. Many fire officials in hydranted areas may think they will never need mobile water tankers. The fact is that no municipal water system is perfect; each has a potential for disruption.

In addition to the fill and dump times, one department was tested on initiating a porta-tank operation. From a starting point 200 feet away to the setup location, the crew dismounted and set up a porta-tank to a state of readiness. On arrival at the setup point, the crew dismounted, placed a ground protection covering, removed and assembled a porta-tank (photo 3), and prepared for a draft operation out of the tank (photo 4). Impressively, this demonstration lasted only 1.5 minutes.


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MISCONCEPTIONS

It goes without saying that water supply is critical at a fire. As important as it is, fire officials often do not concentrate efforts to ensure that the appropriate supply can be delivered. Officials with a hydrant system may have a false sense of security in thinking that they will have the water they need. They also, in the past, may never have encountered a situation where their hydrant system failed or was disrupted. However, we have to prepare for unforeseeable events. Inadequate water supplies are realistic and contingencies that must be addressed before an incident occurs.

AWS DRILL SIMULATION

On Saturday July 29, 2006, a simulated drill was conducted as a pilot for the proposed ISO AWS initiative. The goal of the exercise was to increase the response using a time and motion study to provide a continuous supply of water to protect a property beyond 1,000 feet of a recognized water supply. Specifications on a real target hazard were used. The simulation was conducted on the grounds of the Lancaster County (PA) Public Safety Training Center.

Incident Scenario

At 1201 hours, a first-alarm assignment for a building fire was sent to the Hempfield Church of the Brethren, located in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. The facility is located in a nonhydranted area and is protected by the East Petersburg Fire Company (Station 23), an all-volunteer borough fire company. The first-alarm assignment for the exercise included Station 23 (one engine, one truck, and one rescue) as well as automatic-aid units from five other area volunteer fire companies. The assignment brought four engine companies, one truck company, one rescue company, and four tankers.

Initial Actions

Chief 23 arrived six minutes after the dispatch, reported a simulated heavy smoke condition, and requested a second alarm, including an additional three tankers. East Petersburg Engine 23-1 arrived at 1208 hours and immediately laid 200 feet of five-inch supply line at the driveway entrance and prepared for a defensive attack using its apparatus-mounted deck gun.

Automatic-aid company 719 arrived at 1211 hours with Engine 719-1 and Tanker 719. Engine 719-1 was instructed to be the dump site and to pick up Engine 23-1’s line and supply it.

Tanker 719 arrived and placed its two porta-tanks at Engine 719-1 and dumped its load. Engine 719-1 prepared a draft out of the porta-tank to supply Engine 23-1.

Next arriving Tanker 27 was immediately staged next to Engine 23-1, which it began to supply. Engine 23-1’s deck gun initiated operations at 1213 hours, flowing 517 gpm.

Water Supply

The third engine arrived at 1215 hours and was assigned to establish a fill site at a predetermined simulated draft location 2,000 feet away from the scene to fill the automatic-aid tankers. The fourth-due engine arrived at 1214 hours and was assigned to establish a tanker fill site at a fire hydrant near East Petersburg borough to fill tankers. For the next hour, a tanker shuttle comprised of six tankers operated between the two fill sites and dump site, allowing Engine 23-1 to flow no less than 517 gpm during the operation (photos 5, 6).


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Evaluation

Two ISO representatives evaluated the event. At five-minute intervals, they used a pitot gauge to confirm the flow rate out of the apparatus-mounted deck gun from Engine 23-1. Other observers, including Dr. Hickey and county officials, carefully monitored and documented all aspects of the exercise.

For the target hazard church identified in the introduction, the NFF, using ISO guidelines, is 2,250 gpm. The NFF is a guide for estimating the amount of water that should be available to fight a fire in a single, nonsprinklered building. The NFF formula takes into account many variables including construction, occupancy, exposures, and conveyance factors such as common walls, openings, windows, unprotected passageways, or other structural attachments to other buildings.

ISO requires that it be demonstrated that a continuous water supply of 250 gpm can be delivered for a two-hour duration. Other water delivery measurements are designated for specific NFFs. Section 1 of the FSRS applies to public facilities with an NFF range of from 500 gpm up to 3,500 gpm. Section II develops a PPC for specific properties with an NFF of 3,500 gpm or greater. Commercial fire flows from 4,000 gpm to 12,000 gpm are described in Section II of the FSRS. For the simulation illustrated at the beginning of this article, 500 gpm was selected to meet the minimum requirement for any structural building. The simulation proved successful. During the second half of the test, the operation was supplying more than double the intended flow. At 1249 hours, the deck gun on Tanker 27 was placed in service. A flow of 1,140 gpm between the two monitors far exceeded the expectations of the participants, observers, and evaluators.

Simulation Incident Outcome

The incident was deemed a success and very beneficial. The gpm goal was achieved, and there were many other advantages of conducting this drill at the county fire training center.

  • Responders’ safety was improved; they did not have to travel on the public roadways.
  • Law enforcement was not needed to control local traffic at the demonstration sites.
  • Potential damages to private property were eliminated.
  • Natural water supplies that might have been needed for a real incident were not used.
  • The equipment involved in the exercise could be immediately available for emergencies that might have occurred during the exercise.
  • Public safety was ensured, since the simulation was away from sightseers.
  • It created an enhanced opportunity to accurately record water delivery.

This test, the first of its kind, took more than a year to plan. The ISO AWS initiative may make it possible for rural and urban fire departments to lower their community’s PPC if they can demonstrate the ability to deliver a sustainable amount of water during a prescribed time frame. The program at this time is a pilot study and is supported by ISO for evaluation purposes only. The concept has not been accepted as a modification to the ISO grading schedule. More simulation exercises will be conducted, and additional data will be collected and analyzed.

Preincident Preparation

The success of this event was no accident. It was based on time and motion analysis to simulate what would happen in the real world. Much preparation over the course of two years went into planning the test. Lancaster County and ISO representatives have worked on the program since February 2004. We used ISO timing calculations and formulas for apparatus arrival and tanker dump and fill site operations that are also documented in National Fire Protection Association NFPA 1142, Standard on Suburban and Rural Fire Protection.

Water Supply Capability

Water supply for any target hazard includes three common steps. After identifying a target hazard and address, the first is to determine how much water is needed. The second is to identify which water sources are available. The third is to determine how to get the water to the site. The ISO AWS initiative applies to all structural property beyond 1,000 feet of a recognized water supply. In most cases, this would be a fire hydrant. However, recognized water supplies may include ponds, lakes, and streams that have been certified by a professional engineer, hydrologist, or geologist and are capable of delivering a minimum of 30,000 gallons for a two-hour time period.

If a tanker shuttle is determined to be the appropriate method of delivering the water supply, three other categories must be considered. One is the capacity of each tanker and the capacity of dump tanks (porta-tank capacity). Undersized porta-tanks could impede the effectiveness of the dump site. A second category is time. This includes the setup times at fill and dump sites. It also includes the time it takes for a tanker to dump its load as well as to refill. A third category is travel distance. How far does the tanker have to travel to supply points? This aspect equates to a time variable based on a fixed speed of travel.

Delivery Factors

Once the above information is determined, the figures can be applied within ISO formulas that calculate two specific and critical criteria including Travel Time Formula (TTF) and Continuous Flow Capability (CFC). The potential water delivery capability for planning purposes is based on a time and motion study that uses predetermined response, mobile water vehicle dump time rates, and subsequent fill rates from identified water sources. A demonstration project is witnessed by one or more ISO field representatives to confirm the water-delivery capabilities. Precalculation eliminates a significant amount of drilling to achieve the minimum acceptable or desired water delivery rates.

The TTF includes three variables. The equation is T=0.65 × 1.7D. T equals the travel time in minutes. The 0.65 is a constant figure that represents acceleration and deceleration factors. The 1.7 is also a constant figure that signifies the time required to travel one mile at an average of 35 mph. As an example, travel time for a tanker that has to travel 2.5 miles between a fill site and the fire is 4.9 minutes: 0.65 + 1.7(2.5) = 4.9. However, this is a one-way figure and must be multiplied to get a round trip. Therefore, one round trip equates to 9.8 minutes. Be aware that this is only the travel time and does not include fill and dump times.

The CFC calculation represents the usable water from a tanker. It is the capacity of a tanker (V) divided by the combination of dump time (A), fill time (B) and round trip travel time (T). For the volume of the tank, ISO recognizes 90 percent of the tank size for the usable water volume. This takes into account lost water during dump time. The CFC formula looks like the following:


A CFC example: Tanker 1, with a 2,500-gallon water tank takes 1.2 minutes to dump and 1.6 minutes to fill. It must also travel 2.5 miles one way. Using these figures, the formula would look like the following:


By using this formula on the tankers due on an assignment, the total gpm can be determined. Shortfalls can then be identified and enhanced by adding additional tankers and dump tanks and developing additional fill sites. But it is very important to conduct training on tanker operations to determine if the desired fire flow is achievable.

Capabilities, Time Line Development

The figures obtained in the November 2005 evaluation (see “Case Study” above) were used to calculate the timeline for the July 2006 exercise. Using the Lancaster County Geographical Information System, the road miles for each fire department to the target hazard site and to and from dump and fill sites were also calculated. Although the test was conducted at the county training center, apparatus were not permitted to be part of the drill until their respective calculated times expired.

From the time of dispatch, four minutes were assessed for the volunteer fire companies to assemble and start their response. This is a constant for evaluations of volunteer departments based on research conducted by ISO. The time for career departments is one minute. After the assembly time, the travel time is added. For this drill, the first engine arrived seven minutes after dispatch (four minutes assembly time and three minutes travel time). This overall response time was applied to all apparatus participating in the drill. The Lancaster County-Wide Field Communications Unit (FCU) was on-site, staffed by two telecommunicators. They instructed apparatus to respond at the respective times and tracked the drill operations. Although all of the participants were staged at the training center, they could not enter the scenario until the FCU telecommunicators instructed them to do so.

Once a tanker company dumped its load, it proceeded to a fill site and then staged until its respective refill and travel time expired (based on the formulas reviewed above).

Supply Expansion

At some stages during the drill, tankers became backed up waiting to dump at the dump site. To enhance the operations, a third porta-tank was initiated and tied into the draft supply system (photo 7). This provided a reserve of water and allowed tankers to more efficiently dump and go, allowing more than twice the minimum flow to be delivered.


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Outcome

The ISO field representative will evaluate all of the data obtained from this drill in consideration of lowering the PPC class for the area protected. In addition to providing more effective fire protection, an AWS program is useful in improving PPC for Semi-Protected Property Class 9 to a PPC of 8 or better to lower insurance rates. This can be a tremendous savings, depending on the community’s disposition. In one fire district, the average insurance premiums for residential class property were lowered by $1.32 per thousand dollars of valuation. This figure can vary from community to community. One hundred and thirty-two dollars may not seem like a lot of money. However, when you apply this to a community, and depending on the participation of the area fire companies, considerable cost savings in the millions of dollars can be realized. Furthermore, as property losses decrease, insurance premiums become lower based on the class of property and the fire protection jurisdiction.

Benefits

The benefits of reducing a community’s PPC are many. Property owners’ saving money can domino into other benefits such as improved public relations between the community and the fire department. Also, by evaluating the apparatus, such as determining dump and fill times, fire officials can better understand the capabilities and limitations of their apparatus and adjust their response assignments accordingly when shortfalls are identified. But most importantly, a fire department that actively works to improve its ability to improve water delivery will improve its overall preincident preparedness and service to the community.

LESSONS LEARNED

Throughout this process, many lessons were learned. One was the importance of strengthening relationships with automatic-aid companies. The success of the drill would not have been possible without the cooperation and coordination of all the automatic-aid companies. Both tabletop and functional exercises are essential to streamlining skills to initiate fireground activity.

Preincident planning is a valuable tool. The local fire department did not have an established water delivery goal for the target hazard identified in the exercise. After reviewing the NFF and analyzing the capabilities of the first-due on the first-alarm assignment, fire officials realized that they would have to modify their response to ensure that the appropriate equipment was dispatched on the call. The original assignment had fewer engine and tanker companies due on the initial assignment. Now, with the proof realized, the assignment was reformed accordingly, and they are now better prepared to respond to an actual incident at the target hazard.

It is important to develop alternate water supply strategies; a large portion of the host fire protection district is served by a municipal water system. Its experience in a rural or “no water” situation is not great. The ISO AWS program allowed the companies to develop contingencies for delivering a water supply in addition to or in lieu of their hydranted areas.

When you know what the requirements are for responding to a target hazard, you have to find ways to meet the challenge. When a fire chief claims after a fire that there was not enough water, what is the underlying reason for not having a sufficient water supply? There are valid reasons; but in most cases, the reason is that the fire department didn’t prepare itself better.

For communities that are entirely hydranted, is the supply sufficient to meet the NFF? And what are you going to do if something catastrophic, such as a water main break, occurs? You have to prepare contingencies. The ISO AWS is a program from which every fire department-urban, suburban, rural, and combination-can benefit. The bottom line is improving your ability to protect your community. At the same time, you may save your property owners money. It can be done.

ERIC G. BACHMAN, CFPS, a 24-year veteran of the fire service, is former fire chief of the Eden Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He is the hazardous materials administrator for the County of Lancaster Emergency Management Agency and serves on the Local Emergency Planning Committee of Lancaster County. He is registered with the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications as a fire officer IV, fire instructor II, hazardous materials technician, and hazardous materials incident commander. He has an associate’s degree in fire science and earned professional certification in emergency management through the state of Pennsylvania. He is also a volunteer firefighter with the West Hempfield (PA) Fire Rescue Company.

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