Short Cuts Gadgets

Short Cuts Gadgets


To speed hydrant hookups, we carried a spare set of hose and hydrant tools secured to the harness leather straps on our soft suction hose holder. While the tools were within easy reach, they could not be readily removed. No matter how well they were tied to the hose straps, the tools scratched the sides of our truck. If the hose is in a box type holder, a much better method is to attach a three partition canvas bag to the back of the carrier. A rectangular bag roughly 19″ high, 12 1/2″ wide and 2 1/2″ thick, plus a tiedown rain flap, will hold a hydrant wrench, rubber tipped hammer and several spanner wrenches ready for instant use. For the lady seamstress the bag would be: length top to bottom 19″, width side to side 12 1/2″, back to front 2 1/2″

The bag should be equipped with two oval holed grommets; any automotive upholstery shop can furnish and install the grommets for 40 or 50 cents. We removed two of the small twist type hose cover canvas fasteners from our pumper and mounted them on the back of the suction hose holder to anchor the bag to the carrier.



A new idea in what may be called a combined hose clamp and hose roller has been developed by John E. High, P. O. Box 533, Winston-Salem, N. C. The device was shown at the North Carolina fire association at Charlotte, N. C., in September, and attracted considerable attention.

According to Mr. High, the device, which is patented, performs the dual function of the orthodox hose roller, but in addition, it clamps onto the charged hose line to hold it in position, once it is hauled over the roller part. The illustrations give some idea of the “gadget” and its essential parts.

Mr. High reports it can be attached to any window sill, ladder rung or fire escape. It can be used to hoist a line of hose, or a rope. The hose can go up, but the clamp prevents it going down. The inventor says it is simple to operate, the clamp part being automatic, as the hose passes through. It weighs about 14 1/2 lbs.


Many times we hear the firemen must have initiative, and proof that they have was demonstrated by the fire department at Kemano, B. C. A clearing had been made for an aerial tram up the mountain to the twenty-six-hundred foot level and a fire occurred in the slash at the fifteen hundred foot level. To get any fire fighting equipment to this area would entail hours of very difficult work. Presto! someone has a brainwave; why not take a jeep fire engine and 200-gallon trailer water tank up the mountain side by aerial tram and fight the fire from the air? This was decided upon and, with the jeep’s front mounted pump coupled to the water tank, the crew was successful in extinguishing the blaze from a comfortable position.

(From the Fire Service News, Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office, Sept. 1952.)


One of the fire attack problems is how to properly and quickly locate the building directly behind the structure on fire, in order to get at the fire from the rear or to cover exposures or possibly effect rescues.

Many a structure has been opened up needlessly, with consequent damage to property and contents and a serious loss in time and effort by firemen only to find that it was not located directly in the rear of the building involved by fire.

How to quickly and easily determine the area in the exact rear of the premises involved regardless of confusion over street, numbers, dark, or smoke or other handicaps was taught in some of the early handbooks published by FIRE ENGINEERING. Here is a simple rule worth reprinting:

Start from the front of the burning building, walk quickly to the nearest corner, counting the number of steps made. Turn the corner and go to the next street and walk back parallel to that in which the fire is, counting the same number of steps as on the first street. This gives you the approximate line of the burning structure. Go through the building in front of which you are standing and the chances are that you will find yourself back of the building that is on fire.

Hose clamp in closed position.Hose clamp in opened position.


Far and away the best publication issued by any fire department of this nation is “W.N.Y.F.”, the voice of the New York Fire Department. It is written by firemen for firemen. And over the years it has contained many practical hints for the craft. The following are samples:

Notch That Hook—Some companies have notches cut in the 6-foot hooks on the goose-neck side. This facilitates the use of the hook when conditions are too smoky for visibility. For example: When pulling a ceiling and the overhead can’t be seen, the fireman will be able to tell in which direction his hook is pointing by feeling of the notch.


To Get a Line on Lath—When using a 6-foot hook, it is well to remember that the lath in a ceiling usually runs from front to rear, except on the top floor where it is crosswise.


Lubricate That Axe—When cutting up roof in overhauling operations, it is usually found that tar adheres to the axe blade, making cutting difficult. Put lubricating oil on the blade and it will work much easier.

WM. J. COOK, Lieut. Eng. 231

Simonize wax will not only give the uniform cap visor dazzling shine; it preserves as well. At the same time it can be used to polish badges and buttons.

EDWARD P. UPTON, Fireman 35th Batt.


From Council Bluffs Iowa, via contributor Mortimer Hahn, comes a news story that might possibly interest some of the cognoscenti.

Not long ago, it seems, construction workmen uncovered a 100-year-old cistern while digging a narrow lateral sewer line across Broadway, that city. The top of the arched brick structure was torn away and it was filled with fine sand. A concrete slab of paving was poured over the spot.

It is disclosed that this cistern is only one of several laid down about a century ago, as part of a workable master plan for fighting fires before the era o_____ high pressure hose and handy hydrants on every corner.

The real “well” of the plan is located beneath South First street, according to Assistant Fire Chief McCord Park. It is accessible by manhole and partially filled with water at all times, he said. Firemen for practice often worked pumpers at the well but never pumped it dry, according to the Chief.

From this water source, back in the days before hydrants, the vamps with hand pumps and hose would relay water in short jumps from this cistern to others along the main street and elsewhere.

Reviewing the question of these ancient underground wells and cisterns, Fire Chief Waldo Merrill believes “it will be well to preserve them.” Such cisterns with a storage capacity of about 50,000 gallons would each prove valuable in an emergency or a major disaster, the Chief pointed out.

Speculation as to the possible danger of the old cistern caving in was ridiculed by Architect R. C. Robinson when he reviewed the latest uncovered “find.” The brick masonry and inner liner of mortar in the cistern were in excellent condition. Its arched construction provides the perfect architectural truss, Robinson said. “The heavier the pressure from above, the stronger it (the cistern) would become,” he added.

Chief Merrill said other cisterns could be easily restored to a standby use. “I think the city should attempt to locate the others as part of a disaster plan,” he declared.

Short Cuts Gadgets


Short Cuts Gadgets


There’s much talk about making fire prevention “week” a year-round effort. Not many average department can hope to do this, at least in terms of extensive, sustained campaigns.

However, there are certain simple, inexpensive promotional activities that can be maintained around the calendar.

One of these is to use the envelopes containing routine correspondence, statements, etc., to taxpayers, and others sent out by the local community as “miniature billboards” for fire prevention and fire protection messages.

Numerous slogans such as “HELP PREVENT FIRES” —“DON’T LET FIRE CLAIM YOUR CHILDREN,” and the like, can be printed or rubber stamped on the envelopes, or simple printed stickers similar to the Christmas seals and the like, bearing the slogans can be placed on the containers.

This may sound like old stuff, but it’s surprising how few fire departments make use of this easy effective form of promotion.


Here’s a new adaption of the “squirrel tail” hookup that may interest our readers. It is from Fire Chief John Buell, Kittitas County Fire Protection District No. 2, Ellensburg, Wash., who writes: “This is our arrangement for a pye-connccted suction hose. It has worked out very well for our department where we are short handed and obliged to draft from streams, cisterns and irrigation ditches for water in excess of our 500 gallon tank capacity.

“Attached to a 2 1/2-in. front suction pipe is a “Chiksan” Swivel joint, a 1/4turn hydrant gate, 18 ft. of 2 1/2-in. suction hose and a box strainer held in saddles by steel straps and toggles. By employing a swivel joint the suction hose can be turned at any angle desired.

“This suction has ample capacity to supply a 1-in. tip or four 1/2-in. tips on 1 1/2-in. lines which is sufficient for most of our rural fires.”

Chief Buell adds, “we have not seen this particular application of the idea and so thought you might like it for your readers.” Thank you, Chief Buell.


From William Warren Curling of Portsmouth, Va., comes an idea for reminding the driver of a fire truck on certain essential information. Brother Curling writes: “In the department of which I am a member, we have adopted a little idea of mine which I would like to pass on to others. We all know the chance for human error, such as forgetting hydrants that may be out of service, streets blocked for one reason or another and so on. So, to reduce this chance of error here is what we did.

“A piece of metal of some thin guage, just a little larger than an average filing card, was used. The edges were bent up on both sides and bottom, as shown in the accompanying sketch. The top side was left open. Then this holder was fastened to the dash of the rig so it could easily be seen by the driver while responding to the alarm.

“Next, take a filing card and every morning (or at other appointed times), when the men change shifts, have them write on the essential data such as where the streets are blocked, and hydrants out of service, etc., and then drop the card down the slot.

Squirrel tail hookup used by Kittitas County Fire Protection District No. 2.

“By using this method you lessen the chance of trying to take a route that has a blocked street, or taking a hydrant that is out of service.”

Thank you Brother Curling.


Norton T. Ames of Madison, Wis., a member of the Oregon, Wis., Fire Department and no strangey to this Journal, comes up with another “short cut” which is used in his department. It is designed to furnish essential information about the hydrants in the community, where they are, and what flow each may be counted upon to deliver under normal conditions.

The idea is expressed in this simple diagram showing the Oregon, Wis. hydrant layout. Note that all hydrants on 6-inch or 8-inch mains are marked to distinguish them from those located on smaller mains.

Copies of this diagram can be carried on fire apparatus, in firemen’s cars, and retained in the records of the fire company, for training and instructional purposes.

Any community that has hydrants can prepare a similar map. If there are auxiliary water supplies these also could be indicated.

It is not essential that the fire stream data, giving nozzle discharges in gallons per minute for various sized tips, be included on the chart, but it is pertinent and may be helpful in reminding firemen of the sizes of tips to be used under certain conditions.

Many sections of the East are so built up that it is difficult to determine just where one community (and fire district) begins and another ends. Because of this fact it is the general custom to paint the fire hydrants of each governmental subdivision (or fire district) individual colors, different from the identification color of hydrants on neighboring water systems.