WHEN THE PRECONNECT DOESN’T REACH: INCREASE HOSEBED VERSATILITY

BY JOHN BALES

Over the course of our fire service careers, we have been assigned to or have given the order to “pull the preconnect.” Regardless of whether the preconnect is a 13/4- or 21/2-inch line, it can’t reach the desired location. How do we rectify this situation that is dramatically delaying our initial fire attack?

STRETCHING SHORT

In the Golden (CO) Fire Department, as in many other departments, the required stretch for primary, secondary, and backup lines exceeds the length of preconnects at some incidents. A random survey of Denver metropolitan area fire departments reveals that preconnected hoselines range between 150 and 300 feet in length.

The Golden Fire Department, like any other department, is very good at stretching a 200-foot preconnected hoseline into the average single-family residence or other similar occupancy. The 200-foot preconnect works exceptionally well at most incidents and is the primary tool for fire control and extinguishment.

However, I have witnessed many situations in which the 200-foot preconnected hose doesn’t reach the seat of the fire and another 200-foot preconnect must be added to the first. To attain the necessary gallons per minute (gpm) needed, friction loss is doubled. Because of the increased pump pressure required at this point, it may be impossible to attain the gpm needed to extinguish the fire if pumping from the booster tank. Firefighters are thus placed in a potential flashover condition deep within the structure without the needed water flow to deal with the situation.

Structures within Golden include hotels, college buildings and dormitories, senior citizen homes, multistory apartment buildings, strip malls, the Jefferson County administrative offices and jail, and 5,000-square-foot homes with excessive setbacks. Additionally, there are many large industrial complexes, including the 10-million-square-foot Coors brewery, the world’s largest.


Golden, Colorado, has many large industrial complexes, including the 10-million-square-foot Coors brewery, the world’s largest. (Photos by Mark Wallace.)

According to fire department preplans, many of these occupancies exceed current preconnected hose lengths. Some occupancies of more recent construction include built-in fire protection, but many others date back more than 100 years and have gone through numerous renovations.

In addressing this building situation, our department decided to increase hosebed versatility. Previously, pumpers carried three preconnected attack lines: two 200-foot, 13/4-inch and one 200-foot, 21/2-inch. The remainder of the hosebed contained 800 feet of five-inch large-diameter hose (LDH) and 800 feet of 21/2-inch or three-inch hose for additional attack lines.

HOSE LOAD VERSATILITY

To increase hose load versatility, we rearranged the hosebed. We felt it was imperative to be able to lay the five-inch LDH supply lines at structure fires because of our excellent municipal water system. We also decided to continue to use 13/4-inch hose flowing a minimum of 150 gpm and 21/2-inch hose flowing a minimum of between 250 and 300 gpm. However, the flow was only as good as the ability to stretch these lines to the seat of a fire that may be 300 to 600 feet away from our pumper.

While we still carry the two 200-foot, 13/4-inch lines in a transverse crosslay, we decided to change the rear hosebed configuration. In one compartment, we loaded 450 feet of 21/2-inch hose in a reverse flat load configuration, leaving the final male coupling slightly extended beyond the rear of the hosebed. On top of this load is our standard 200-foot, 21/2-inch preconnect, which is adequate for a fire at the average single-family residence.


This former armory now has shops, offices, and apartments.

In the middle hosebed compartment, we loaded 750 feet of three-inch hose with 21/2-inch couplings in a reverse accordion load. The third hosebed, depending on the apparatus, is loaded with between 800 and 1,000 feet of five-inch LDH supply line.

ADVANTAGES OF NEW CONFIGURATION

On the three-inch load, we placed a three-way valve (water thief) with a 21/2-inch inlet, a 21/2-inch gated discharge, and two 11/2-inch gated discharges. With this setup, this line can be stretched to an entry door, a stairwell landing below the fire floor, or even down a long interior hallway in an industrial corridor. By using this three-way valve with three-inch hose, we can deliver 500 to 600 gpm to the three-way valve. Two firefighters can quickly extend this three-inch line. From the three-way valve, firefighters from the first- and second-arriving companies can quickly extend a total of three attack lines (two 13/4-inch, one 21/2-inch). The engineer, however, is only pumping through one three-inch line. We are developing a pump chart that would indicate what the pump discharge pressure should be for a given hoseline length and required flow.

The 13/4-inch preconnects are loaded so they can be easily disconnected at the 200-foot mark and advanced from the three-way valve. A five- to six-foot length of 13/4-inch hose is attached to the discharge in the center of each preconnected crosslay. The male coupling is left slightly out beyond the edge of the hosebed to allow for a quick disconnect of the 13/4-inch preconnected hose. Additionally, the 13/4-inch preconnects are two separate and distinct colors for easy identification. The 21/2-inch preconnect can be quickly removed and advanced from the three-way valve, too.


This college administration building requires a stretch of at least 250 feet just to get to the front door.

The new hosebed configuration allows a pumper company to initially lay out one three-inch line to supply standpipe and sprinkler systems at the same gpm as two 21/2-inch lines. We simply disconnect the three-way valve and tie into the fire department connection.

In Golden, there are several older hydrants that have only two 21/2-inch outlets. The hydrant member can quickly connect one three-inch line to the hydrant using a double female adapter carried in the hydrant bag.


Previously, pumpers carried three preconnected attack lines: two 200-foot, 13/4-inch and one 200-foot, 21/2-inch. The hosebed also carried 800 feet of five-inch LDH supply hose and 800 feet of 21/2-inch or three-inch hose for additional attack lines.

The final advantage is that two three-inch lines can be used to supply portable master stream devices that have 21/2-inch outlets, allowing the master stream devices to flow 1,000 gpm. The department found another use for the three-inch hose besides that of a supply line or a single hoseline.

Like many other communities, Golden continues to grow at an alarming rate, but along with new construction, we must be able to adapt to and handle situations that are constantly arising in older structures with inadequate fire protection features. Using preconnected hoselines will continue to be the viable attack strategy for the correct situation. Relying on preconnects for all situations ignores the possibility that they may stretch short in some circumstances and places the attack pumper in a poor strategic position. Parking the pumper close to the fire structure so that the 200-foot preconnected lines can reach the fire is a poor strategy. A $300,000 pumping apparatus is an expensive exposure.

VERSATILITY COUNTS!


In the new hosebed setup, the compartment on the left has 450 feet of 21/2-inch hose in a reverse flat load configuration with the final male coupling extending slightly beyond the rear of the bed.

Determining hose loads for your pumper depends on the particular needs of the jurisdiction. It is essential to define the mission of the apparatus and the responsibilities of the crew. Hose loads and hoselay procedures should be designed for a maximum number of options. The keys to successful hose loads are versatility and expandability. We need to take what we have and do the job more efficiently and safely.

JOHN BALES is chief training officer with the Golden (CO) Fire Department and president of the Colorado Fire Training Officers Association. He is a contract instructor for the National Fire Academy and a graduate of the NFA’s Executive Fire Officer Program. Bales has bachelor’s degrees in education and fire service administration. He received the 1999 Colorado Governor’s Award for Leadership in Fire Service Training.


The three-inch hose load has a three-way valve (water thief) with a 21/2-inch inlet, a 21/2-inch gated discharge, and two 11/2-inch gated discharges. This line can be stretched to an entry door, a stairwell landing below the fire floor, or even down a long interior hallway in an industrial corridor and deliver 500 to 600 gpm to the three-way valve. From this point, first- and second-arriving companies can quickly extend three attack lines.

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The 13/4-inch preconnects in the transverse crosslay are loaded so they can be easily disconnected at the 200-foot mark and advanced from the three-way valve. A piece of 13/4-inch hose approximately five to six feet long is attached to the discharge in the center of each preconnected crosslay. The male coupling is left slightly out beyond the edge of the hosebed to allow for a quick disconnect of the 13/4-inch preconnected hose. These preconnects are two separate and distinct colors for easy identification.


The hydrant bag includes a double female adapter for connecting the three-inch line to older hydrants with only two 21/2-inch outlets.


A three-inch line connected to an older hydrant with a double female adapter.

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