The Volunteer Fire Department
A Series of Articles on Volunteer Fire Department Administration and Operation
Fire Department Tools Used by Volunteer Firemen
This article, the twentieth of a series, describes a few of the common forms of tools that are frequently used by volunteer firemen:
VARIOUS means of illumination are employed to light up a fire ground at night, ranging from the large carbide light to a small hand electric lamp employed by firemen or officers for inside work.
A carbide light that is commonly employed, gives in the neighborhood of 3,000 candle power illumination for six hours and provides satisfactory illumination for department operations on the outside of a moderate size building. One type of carbide light uses an aluminum reflector ten inches in diameter so attached that it can be set in any direction.
The hand electric lamp or searchlight uses two 2-volt cells as the source of electric current. The lights are made waterproof so that they will not be injured by the spray from streams.
Because of the highly corrosive action of sulphuric acid used in charging soda and acid fire extinguishers, it is a cumbersome problem to handle the heavy carboy. A small amount of acid spilled on the floor may result in considerable damage. Acid on clothing will immediately eat a part of the cloth, and if spattered on the hands or face, may result in serious burns to the body. For that reason, special acid pumps or as is more common, a carboy inclinator is employed.
The inclinator clamps over the wooden crate enclosing the carboy and makes it easy to handle the acid. The inclinator works with a cam motion and clamps on the crate like a skate clamp. It clutches the carboy firmly and permits easy and safe handling of the acid regardless of how much acid there may be in the carboy. The rockers enable one to tilt the carboy as much as desired.
Use of Jacks
Jacks, in the fire service, find their chief use in lifting heavy objects such as cars and so forth, in case of accident. They are also sometimes employed in an emergency when a building is about to collapse or has collapsed. The jacks are invariably of the screw type. In using jacks for flat objects, it is always best to put a piece of wood, heavy cloth or other material between the head of the jack and the object to be lifted so that the head of the jack will not slip on a smooth surface.
Where a jack is used to lift a car, the brakes of the car must first be set to make sure that they will not shift when the jacks are operated.
The ordinary apparatus jacks are familiar to most firemen. These jacks are of a great variety of designs, some operating on the screw principle and others on the ratchet and lever plan.
One style is employed in which the lower end, just above the base plate, is pivoted so that the jack can be tipped over. It is used to lighten the load on the tires when apparatus is placed in the fire station. Upon the apparatus being called out, the truck is started in the usual manner. The traction remaining between the tires and the floor is sufficient to tip over the jacks and throw the truck load onto the tires.
A hose jacket is used to stop leaks in hose. Of all hose jackets, the most widely used and the most satisfactory is the Cooper hose jacket.
To use this jacket to cover a tear in the hose, the tear is so placed that the water will he shooting out away from the operator and as nearly horizontal as possible. Then the hose jacket is opened and one side slipped under the hose. When ready, the upper part of the jacket is snapped closed quickly, preferably with the foot. The jacket locks automatically.
If the tear in the hose were so placed that the water shot up vertically, there would be danger of the upper part of the jacket being knocked upward as it was being closed, and possibly injuring the operator.
The jacket may also be used as a universal coupling. For this use, the two couplings of the hose to be joined are brought together within the jacket and the jacket snapped closed. As soon as pressure is applied inside the hose, the hose will become inflated and will properly seal the coupling.
Besides the Cooper hose jacket there is the screw type, the Neeley hose jacket and the leather hose jacket.
Hose Testing Pump
Hose testing pumps are used where it is not desired to test hose with the aid of the pumper. In using the hose testing pump, one or more lines of hose are coupled tightly together and capped with a blank cap at one end. The other end of the line has a cap fitted with a nipple to which is attached the short piece of hose leading from the pump. The line of hose is first filled with water and then pressure is developed by forcing additional water into the line by means of the hand pump. If the hand pump is not fitted with a gauge showing the pressure in the line, it is necessary to use a cap on the far end of the layout tapped for a gauge, and to place a gauge on this fitting.
The hose roller is also known as the hose hoist. It is used for raising hose or ladders to the roof or upper floors of a building. It consists of a metal frame so curved that it will fit over a window sill or the edge of a roof. It contains two rollers over which hose or ropes may be drawn with little twisting. A rope is attached to secure the roller when hauling hose over it to the roof or other upper parts of a building. This rope, if possible, should he passed several times around a chimney or other substantial projection or support and then securely fastened. If such support is not available, and if no other means is at hand to provide for securing the hose roller, a hole may be cut in the roof of the building and the rope tied around one of the roof rafters. There ae two types of hose rollers commonly employed in Fire Department work, the Bresnan hose roller and the New York hose roller. They both operate the same.
The hose roller keeps the hose away from the cornice or other sharp edges and prevents cuts or injury to the hose jacket. After the roller is firmly secured, the hose is placed on the roller and is drawn upward. Should the hose run off the roller, it can easily be replaced by letting the hose coast back a few feet, at the same time guiding the hose back onto the roller.
Hose straps are used to carry hose lines up ladders and for securing hose lines to fire escapes and ladders. They are also used to assist in handling lines in other ways. With a hose strap it is an easy matter to secure a line of hose on a ladder or a fire escape.