Letters to the Editor: February 2020

Leadership is a responsibility to do more

An officer is given an opportunity to lead a company, a division, or a department. But what is a leader? A leader leads or commands a group, an organization, or a person who is most advanced or successful in a particular area.

Opportunity to lead.You have been given that opportunity to be a leader, but what are you leading? As a company fire officer, you serve as the first-line supervisor and are responsible for tasks such as the overall safety of crews and assignments; addressing incorrect actions and behavior; and providing positive reinforcement and motivation through training, passion, and purpose.

As a chief officer, you serve as the facilitator of the organization and assume all responsibility. Chief officers are responsible for the implementation of standard operating guidelines, providing effective and positive discipline, ensuring the appropriate resources and opportunities, and creating a positive and motivating environment or workplace.

Officers are to lead by example and to develop and mentor those coming after them to be prepared to lead those after them; to provide them with the knowledge and training to make tactical decisions to save their lives or others’ lives; to live up to the standard; and to set the example of professionalism not only for the fire department and the community but also for the service.

A common remark in firehouses today is, “The younger generations are lazy and don’t want to work for anything.” This trend or issue, which may be true in some respects, may be partially our fault. Although fire officers cannot control all aspects, we can lead by example at every opportunity. If we follow the standards we expect of these members, then they will follow us.

Ask yourself what type of officer you are. Would you want to work for you? Do you bark orders and avoid training? Are you the “Do as I say and not as I do” leader? If so, change or step down. The future of your organization depends on you and your attitude.

Personal traits of effective leadership. Your personal behavior and character are reflections on how you are viewed. How you are viewed determines how much confidence, trust, and respect your peers will have in you. If officers don’t possess positive characteristics, how do we expect others to follow them?

Organization. If you are unorganized in your personal/work life, you may give the impression that you cannot manage tasks in an appropriate or a timely manner. This will create a lack of confidence in your peers.

Self-discipline/self-motivation. Lack of self-discipline/self-motivation may signal that you cannot maintain productivity or maintain a standard of professionalism.

Listening to our peers. Officers must be engaged in their crew and the department’s needs and wants. Talk with your members; conduct department surveys or assessments to identify any gaps that may need closure. Firefighters want to be taught by people with experience and want to see officers engaged in training. If officers are sidelining during training drills, they are not providing confidence to the crews or instilling the respect they need. People are afraid to show you what they don’t know. Don’t be that officer. Be engaged: The training ground is one of the best opportunities an officer has to mentor and lead by example by showing and not telling.

We all make mistakes and fail at some point; that shouldn’t be how we are judged. How we recover is what matters. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Know yours. Assist in helping others develop and accomplish their personal goals. The rank is just a title. How you use it is what’s important.

Eric Jones
Captain/Training Officer
Scottsburg (IN) Fire Department

Water flow and pump operations

Compliments to Fire Engineering on its continuing publication of technical articles about water flow and pump operations and especially Chief Joseph R. Polenzani’s “Deck Guns: Know Your Flow” in the October 2019 issue in which he discusses how to determine pump pressure needed to deliver the desired volume of water through solid stream and automatic nozzles. There is a great need for understanding the hows and whys of water delivery so that it may be accomplished in an efficient and a safe manner.

The method he described requires the use of a table of the nozzle type, desired flow, and pump discharge volume, which is posted at the pump panel or memorized by the driver-pump operator. Perhaps I can offer a logical alternative to the multiple flow testing and the table memorization. One form of the Hazen-Williams formula follows the friction loss formula cited on page 63 column 3 in Polenzani’s article and allows for combining the pipe coefficient and the length into one factor because the piping can’t be readily changed in the engine. We now have a factor we can call “Z” times the flow in hundreds of gallons squared.

Taking Polenzani’s reading for a two-inch tip at 80 pounds per square inch (psi), we have a friction loss of 20 psi from Table 2 in the article (pump pressure minus nozzle pressure). The test point becomes 20 = Z times 102 or a value of 0.2 for Z. We can now use Z to calculate the friction loss for any flow desired. Checking Table 2 for measured losses and comparing it to the calculation method, 400 gallons per minute (gpm) is 4 × 4 × 0.2 = 3.2 psi; 600 gpm will be 6 × 6 × 0.2 = 7.2 psi or a pump discharge of 87 psi (measured = 90); 800 gpm is 8 × 8 × 0.2 = 13 psi or a desired pump pressure of 93 psi (measured 95); 1,200 gpm is 12 × 12 × 0.2 = 29 or a proper pump discharge pressure (PDP) of 109 psi.

We can now apply this same logic to the automatic nozzles by assuming that they will always operate at 100 psi.

If we desire a flow of 500 gpm from this engine with the automatic nozzle in place, the calculation would be 5 × 5 × 0.2 = 5 psi loss or a PDP of 105 psi. A flow of 700 gpm would be a PDP of 110 psi; 900 gpm will be delivered with a PDP of 116 psi. By this time, it should be obvious that this method will work for any desired flow within the flow capability limits of the nozzle.

The same methods can be applied to a quint because the piping remains (mostly) the same and only the elevation needs to be accounted for in addition to the friction loss in the piping. Our 2007 KME has a “Z” factor of 0.4 with an automatic nozzle in the basket. For a desired flow of 1,000 gpm into the fifth floor of a high-rise (40 feet elevation), the calculation would be 10 × 10 × 0.4 = 40 + NP (100) + Elevation Pressure (ElP) (20) so PDP for the quint would be 160 psi. Assuming an adequate supply, then an all-out assault would be 1,400 gpm. 14 × 14 × 0.4 = 78.4 + 100 NP + 20 ElP = 200 psi. A word of caution! A good rule of thumb is that the nozzle reaction force is approximately one-half the gpm being delivered—in this case, 1,400/2 = 700 lbs. of reaction. Since the load capacity of the aerial basket is 1,000 lbs., we must allow only a single firefighter in the basket under this condition.

William Hoehn
Driver-Pump Operator
Crystal Fire Department
St. Marys, Pennsylvania

Joseph R. Polenzani responds: Driver-Pump Operator Hoehn has an excellent idea. I like the flexibility of using a coefficient-based formula, especially since it reinforces the hydraulic principles we use when calculating the friction loss in our attack or supply lines.

I have only two caveats: First, given the potential for human error inherent in using a handheld pitot gauge, I would still run multiple flow tests at the various gpm benchmarks and then calculate an average Z coefficient based on the results. Second, not all pump operators are comfortable doing multiplication in their heads, which is one of the reasons we have so many friction loss rules of thumb (12 × 12 × 0.3, for example, would be pretty tricky at 3:00 a.m.).

An ideal solution would be to modify the friction loss guide table to indicate the pumper’s calculated Z coefficient at the top or bottom. This information would allow the pump operator to quickly dial in one of the benchmark flows or calculate a more exact number, using a pad and paper, whiteboard, or smartphone, if desired.

Hoehn’s experience in applying this concept to quint master streams is interesting. We conducted similar tests with a 75-foot quint, and our results were comparable to his. There was virtually no difference in friction loss (less than 5 psi) when flowing water in either the fully retracted or fully extended positions other than the expected loss due to elevation.

I appreciate Hoehn’s taking the time to read my article and consider the concepts presented. I’ll definitely be incorporating his ideas into future training and discussions on this topic.

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