SOMEONE SHOULD SAY IT (AGAIN)

Again, we are around the mythical “table” in the kitchen. This is the arena where legends are enhanced, truths bent, and, in some cases, where things needing saying are said!

As noted last time, there are more than a few examples to use on this single page. I hope y’all enjoy reviewing a few more.

Those of us old enough and in this job long enough get chuckles as equipment and tactics get reinvented as new generations of firefighters seem to pass the five-year barrier.

Coat linings. Turnout coat linings that cannot be separated by law suddenly get broken away by commonsense maintenance.

Nozzles. Nozzle tips that have variable patterns that were usually in a great engine officer’s pocket suddenly get marketed with a nozzle ensemble so you can have the choice of solid or hollow streams on the fire floor. Recently, some literary chatter has tried to give credibility to using nozzles with the bail “cracked down.” If you think you have a choice of nozzle-control handle positions when advancing on a structure fire, you should be ready for a change of assignment-at least if you work for me.

Proper supplied nozzles are either fully opened or shut in a structure fire enclosure. If you are having trouble with nozzle reaction, you must solve it that day with the pump operator or the firefighter(s) backing you up.

AFFF foam. Sometimes here, we touch on the “littlest” nozzle of all-the one on the 212-gallon pressurized water extinguisher. Years ago (more than 40, I fear), we were gaining more and more information on fire behavior. It seemed that the action of AFFF foam concentrate was more than smothering and had some chain-breaking reaction on the combustion process. What?

Anyway, as a single truck with a few five-gallon foam supply containers, it was a natural process to think of adding a small cup of the “stuff” to the extinguisher the next time we charged it. As a spray, it worked well on oil-burner problems; as a stream, it seemed to be far more efficient.

Now there is a major discussion on this simple trick. People are discussing the recharging process and the mixing formula as if it were some Martha Stewart television show. Just add the stuff, and forget it. It works great, and all the time. The only fire tip I can think of about the “can” is to make sure to take the time to stand it up before you use it. Those of you who “know” know, and those who don’t, go figure.

The tower ladder. Speaking of water, let’s talk about it and my favorite tool, the tower ladder. I still get called to help some departments put this ladder in service for the first time. I usually find the same problem more and more lately-and that is that the water system is built into the unit. The first waste is the shutoff valve to the large-diameter pipe assemblies in the bucket at the delivery end of the stream. If you are ever looking for a NEVER, one is to never shut down a tower ladder stream at the delivery point-the nozzle. In the North, it is the icing problem that relates to great damage and out-of-service time. Without ice, it also creates a noncompressible mass inside a fragile, sectioned three-or-more-inch waterway that will burst its seams and seals if the aerial is retracted. There really is no reason to shut down the stream in the bucket: What could be the emergency or the hurry? Large-caliber streams should be shut down at the source and, in an emergency, at the gated inlet at the base of the turntable.

Another NEVER for tower ladders is never supply handlines from the bucket area-even if the committee “specced out” outlets with control handles for handlines. You have the most valuable and versatile equipment on the face of the structure. Why tie it up as a standpipe? Take coils of hose supplied from below up to the operating level and hand the hose to the awaiting engine company. A little hose strap action will free up the three-quarter million-dollar machine for more valuable duties.

Critiques of operations should be conducted before the responding members leave the scene-if you want the truth and the lessons, that is.

And with all the discussions at seminars and in magazines like this one, remember the old timer’s ultimate trick: Get water on it; it may go out!

TOM BRENNAN has more than 35 years of fire service experience. His career spans more than 20 years with the Fire Department of New York as well as five years as chief of the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department. He was the editor of Fire Engineering for eight years and currently is a technical editor. He is co-editor of The Fire Chief’s Handbook, Fifth Edition (Fire Engineering Books, 1995). He was the recipient of the 1998 Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award. Brennan is featured in the video Brennan and Bruno Unplugged (Fire Engineering/FDIC, 1999). He is a regular contributor to Firenuggets.com.

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