How Not to Make a Parking Lot
The Editor’s Opinion Page
We have been looking at fire pictures again, and again our teeth are somewhat on edge. The latest that came across our desk showed a supermarket that took in about a square block. When the photographer clicked the shutter, flame was boiling out of the store windows like an angry surf, and the building was already half-way to becoming a parking lot.
Nine men played four lines on the fire—one booster line and three 1½-inch lines. For all practical purposes, their operations were the equivalent of trying to kill a tiger with a fly swatter—and just as effective.
We doubt if any of these lines penetrated more than 10 feet inside the store before they turned into steam and were carried away with the superheated gases.
What was needed here was a heavy stream that carried enough water to pass through the heated gases and reach the material that was actually burning.
How much better it would have been to merge the water from the four small lines into one large line—let’s say carrying 300 gpm at 60-psi nozzle pressure. Such a line would have had the reach and power to do some real fire killing.
It would have been better still if the nine men in the picture had split up into three teams, each to gather hose and water for three heavy streams.
We have nothing against small lines, mind you. They are—like the heavy stream—just one of the many tools available for fire fighting. But in recent years, so much stress has been placed on small streams for interior fire fighting that it has become common practice to st retch them for all fires.
At Memphis, Rex Wilson of the NFPA stated that “there is no reason for a pumper to travel down a street laying two lines capable of supplying less than half its capacity ” How much worse it is when the pumper stretches one 1½-inch line—capable of supplying only about one-tenth its capacity at best!
At the supermarket fires, as at lumber yards, warehouses, and other large-area occupancies, it is outright foolishness for any company to stretch a line smaller than 21/2-inches.
Perhaps in the picture that sparked these words, the fire fighters had only small hose. But we doubt it. And if they did, it is about time they acquainted the village fathers with the facts of fire fighting.
Let’s remember that big battles require big guns. And that snipers never won a big battle!