Almost all engine company apparatus are equipped with some type of master stream device. These appliances are used to quickly deliver large volumes of water in short order from the position the pumper has taken near the building.
Some of these deckpipes require a shortened hoseline to be connected prior to being supplied but most are piped directly from the pump with a discharge valve on the pump panel. If the deckpipe needs to be supplied via hoseline, a firefighter will usually be positioned at the deckpipe to control it prior to it being supplied. In this case, that firefighter would be able to loosen or remove any locks or pins and have the deckpipe pointed toward the fire building or other target before the deluge of water exited the tip.
Photo by John J. Salka Jr.
Photo by John J. Salka Jr.
A 2 1/2-inch solid stream nozzle attached to the stream shaper. The three stacked tips are mounted right beside the deckpipe for use if required.
If the deckpipe is a piped-in model and the pipe's water is required at the same time that a handline is being stretched by the company's firefighters, the engine company chauffeur may be required to operate it. Because the chauffeur is at the pump panel opening the gate for both the hand- line and the deckpipe, he cannot be at the appliance before the water gets there.
The obvious problem here is that the deckpipe's tip is probably pointed toward the front of the engine or even lowered against the body, cab or deck to which it is mounted. If water is started to this appliance prior to it being directed at the fire, it could cause damage to the apparatus, injuries to members or civilians, and present a very unprofessional image to any civilians watching the operation.
To address this situation, a standard 2 1/2-inch smooth bore nozzle can be carried attached to the end of the stream shaper in the shutoff position. The standard stacked tips are removed and mounted at the base of the pipe where they are now available for use at a later time. The engine chauffeur can now open the handline gate and make any adjustments, then open the deckpipe gate without any water flowing from it. Then, the chauffeur can climb up to the deckpipe on top of the pumper, loosen any locks, direct the pipe toward the fire and simply open the nozzle's controlling handle.
This simple innovation, connecting what is normally a handline appliance to a deckpipe, makes it a more efficient and safe tool for use on the fireground.
John J. Salka Jr., a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a battalion chief and 17-year veteran of the FDNY. He also is an instructor at the Orange County, NY, Fire Training Center, New York State Academy of Fire Science and FDNY Fire Academy. Salka has developed and presented "Get Out Alive" survival training and other fire and rescue courses throughout the country.