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    Default Things that make you go "Hmmmmmm????"

    Texas House Destroyed as Firefighters Run Out of Water

    Posted: 07-11-2009

    ROBBY ROBERTSON
    Athens Daily Review (Texas)

    A home near Lake Athens caught fire Friday afternoon and burned almost to the ground.

    The Athens Fire Department was called to the Lake Front Shores subdivision where the home of Gary and Lynda Espy was fully engulfed in flames.

    "I heard a popping sound near the north end of the house and I thought it was someone outside popping fireworks," Mr. Espy said. "I was really just going outside to see who it might be when I smelled smoke."

    He said he smelled a lot of smoke and decided he better call 9-1-1.

    By the time the trucks arrived, fire was coming from the roof and the front of the home.

    "The last few days I have been noticing the pool pump getting very hot, but I just thought it was because it was so hot outside," Espy said. "I really don't know where it (the fire) might have started."

    The Brownsboro Fire Department assisted with the blaze. Mixed with the heat, the blaze caused firemen to get overheated and in need of medical attention.

    Then it only got worse.

    "We're out of water," a Brownsboro firefighter said.

    In fact, both departments at one point had to wait on water to be delivered from the North 19 Fire Rescue water truck.

    The firefighters could only stand by while the house crumbled in flames. A neighbor with a four-wheeler and a large water tank, doused the blaze as much as possible during the 15 to 20 minutes they were waiting.

    "I just really never thought anything like this would happen," Espy said. "I guess you can just never know when something like this will happen."

    Henderson County Fire Marshal John Holcomb's office will do a complete investigation to learn the cause of the blaze.

    To see more of the Athens Daily Review or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.athensreview.com/. Copyright (c) 2009, Athens Daily Review, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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    Perhaps their department doesnt so a whole lot of drafting and does not have hard suction? We dont have it at all. Well we do have an OLD piece in storage somewhere. Maybe the pool was an indoor pool. And maybe that was the name of the development and they happened to be miles from the lake.

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    Clearly the article is missing some important information regarding the water problem.

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    While it sounds silly, you have to realize that lakefront doesn't neccessarily mean you can just drive right up to the lake. In this case, the lake is nowhere near the homes or the road or the driveway or anything else.

    See the google earth view from the sky.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...18024&t=h&z=17

    From the sounds the article, the fire was well on its way before the FD even arrived. There is no readily accessible place to draft with reach of LDH. So they're stuck with what they have on the trucks until mutual aid arrives. ***** happens.

    We're very fortunate to have two engines with 1000 gallons each and 3000 gallon tanker. Another 2500 gallon mutual aid tanker is <10 minutes away with other tankers being 10-15 minutes away.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Lakes and pool wont do any good unless you have ACCESS to them.

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    OK, $hit happens (they call 911), that's why we have jobs. You mean to tell me no one thought prior to this fire "hey, maybe we should have an access point/road to the water source in case of fire". Even if you can't drive up to the water source, there are such things as "dry hydrants".

    Granted, no one or no department is perfect and we should learn from this. Now would be a good time for the department to enact an ordinance (or whatever their laws allow) to provide a means of water supply or access to it when a subdivision is constructed.

    If you are the AHJ for this area and don't have the tools and equipment (someone said hard suction), then you are not taking a proactive stance and being prepared to do your job.

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    Sounds like a good case for a TurboDraft setup.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    This can happen anywhere. I was at a fire in a neighboring town (actually in another state) and they had to shut down firefighting for a while because they drained the Hydrant system. They had been dumping LARGE quantities of water on the buildings for most of the night (5 story building and adjoining four story building gutted).
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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie82 View Post
    Perhaps their department doesnt so a whole lot of drafting and does not have hard suction? We dont have it at all. Well we do have an OLD piece in storage somewhere. Maybe the pool was an indoor pool. And maybe that was the name of the development and they happened to be miles from the lake.
    Knowing you have lake/water front property in your coverage area, and not knowing how to draft or have the equipment to do so is rediculous.
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    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Knowing you have lake/water front property in your coverage area, and not knowing how to draft or have the equipment to do so is rediculous.
    Assuming that is what happened is even more ridiculous. Why would anyone even suggest that.

    This entire thread exists because someone did nothing but read a newspaper headline and not actually spend 2 minutes looking into it first. I put the name, town, and state into google earth and live maps and could see what the water supply situation was in less than a minute. Try it sometime before bashing.

    It was a big *** fire. There was no readily accessible nearby water source. They used up the water on the trucks. Its a fact of life in a community without hydrants and sometimes when the fire is big enough, you just have to wait for mutual aid.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    NM, forgive me for comming off in the way that I thought this situation had anything to do with personnel not knowing how to do something or not having the equipment. I was just making that statement in general. Like has been mentioned, it sounds like it was enviromental issuies that hindered them, but from the limited info provided, we may never know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Sometimes once a house reaches a certain percentage of involvement you actually SAVE the homeowner by not putting it out. Not that I advocate that,just a simple truth.

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    Post And...........

    As a famous Maritime Lawyer says, "Ship Happens" (Thanks Marc) and our job is to be ready for it.

    I am making NO JUDGEMENT CALL on this Fire because the Information provided is too scarce, and possibly "Slanted" by a reporter's inexperience in Firefighting. NM, Thanks for the "Air Shot" which helped put things in perspective. Sort of............

    Regardless, those VFDs/FDs that have areas of poor or no Water Supply MUST learn to operate within these constraints. PLANNING for a lack of water is absolutely necessary.

    1. First and foremost, have Adequate Apparatus and Staffing responding on the INITIAL CALL. If you don't have what you need, and few rural VFDs do, have it coming from elsewhere. My station has a "Fire" Engine, a "Rescue" Engine, a Heavy Rescue, an Ambulance, and several support vehicles. On the initial alarm for a Structure Fire, we get 4 Engines, 2 Ladder trucks, a Heavy Rescue, and additional support units. IF we need Tankers, they come. First alarm gets three, Tanker Task Force gets 4 each time, or the IC can ask for whatever he wants. If he asks for something, he gets it, no questions asked, no limits.

    2. Have Accessable water located thru the area. Installing underground Tanks with a "Hydrant" on top, Installing "Drafting Hydrants" or Dry Hydrants as they are often called, at any location that has enough water to supply a Pumper, is another way of getting water. Identify other water access points, such as Boat Ramps, Low Bridges, etc.

    3. Have, and use, the equipment that you need for this type of operation. Enough Suction Hose, Floating Pumps, Turbodraft Eductors, Floating Strainers, Jet Strainers, etc. should be available on apparatus that runs this type of area. EVERY Tanker should carry a Folding (Portable) Tank AND it should hold at least 500 gallons more than the tanker carries.

    4. Train, Train, Train. Recovering from a mistake in a rural water supply situation ALWAYS takes longer than in the "City" areas with hydrants on every corner. If you're going to beat the Fire, your team has to be better.
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    [QUOTE=nmfire;1078455]Assuming that is what happened is even more ridiculous. Why would anyone even suggest that.[QUOTE]

    Not that this is the case here, but its easy to suspect because it happens every day across the country. The fire department tells the community they werent prepared to handle a fire like that. Wouldnt it be nice if more departments actually preplanned? It isnt like towns just sprout up overnight, right?

    Take for example the places that have 1000 GPM pumps and 3" hose in rural areas that dont purchase larger pumps and hose because they dont have hydrants, silly and uneducated (especially places that CAN afford them). But they have the trust of the public. Instead of having 2000 GPM rigs with 5" hose to move water from draft over long distances, they say that that hose and pump is designed for hydrants where you have the water. In fact, its quite the opposite almost. Instead of having a big 4x4 rig designed to draft from water holes, we have every day rigs designed to work on paved roads in places that have hydrants. Take a look at gigs like Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Winsconsin FD, they figured it out.
    Last edited by MG3610; 07-13-2009 at 11:21 AM.

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    What little info that can be gathered here tells me the fire had a pretty fair head start. If the fire did not go out in the initial attack (i.e. the first round of water from the initial engines and tanker) then the fire was going to likely be DEFENSIVE from that point on. This is assuming attack occured during the first ten to fifteen minutes after the FD arrived and that they did not run out of water for that time period.

    No parcel of property is worth a FF's life. If the firemen were exhausted after the initial round and the fire wasn't out then it sucks to be the homeowner.

    Yes, mutual aid, better staffing, improved tools and tactics might have led to a better outcome... There simply is not enough info to tell. Was this older construction? Remodeled? Lightweight? Obstructed location? Were they short staffed? How much involvement was there on arrival?Smoke alarms? Sprinklers?

    I'll be in the minority saying this, BUT IF A HOME OWNER DOES NOT WANT THE HOUSE TO BURN DOWN THEN INSTALL WARNING DEVICES (smoke detectors) AND SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS (residential sprinklers, household extinguishers)... AND THE HOME OWNER SHOULD HAVE A PLAN FOR THE EVENTUALITY OF FIRE.

    I'm not covering for FD errors, rather at some point we have to acknowledge that the fire that does little or no damage is caught and suppressed early. Otherwise a crap load of fire, smoke and water damage will be the outcome.

    Yes there are some -less than adequate- FDs out there. But by and large, most departments can quickly knock a fire with the intial water from a couple of engines and a tanker.

    Once it goes defensive then the LIVES OF THE FFs COME FIRST. Don't get overly excited. If you run out of water, was it REALLY going to greatly change the outcome? If they are exhausted then so be it. I feel for the guy who lost his house...But the FD guys can't be left scattered across the lawn with I V bags and sweat ridden clothes for a fire that was likely advanced and likely to take the home to begin with.
    Last edited by fireeaterbob; 07-13-2009 at 11:35 AM.
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    Not making excuses but merely offering an opinion.

    1) Not enough info in the original story to make a judgement on anything.

    2) I have been to barn fires with 14 tankers hauling and still had periods where we were out of water waiting for the next tanker.

    3) If it's poor planning, shame on them.

    4) Mr Murphy is a Son of a Bitch and even with great planning things go to pieces some times.

    By the way my little podunk volly FD bought a 2000 gpm pumper. Our municipal system can't come close to supplying that much water so we installed 2 dry hydrants side by side so we can draft and supply water through the 3500 feet of 5 inch we have. We got a lot of funny looks when we bought that truck!!
    Last edited by FyredUp; 07-13-2009 at 11:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Not making excuses but merely offering an opinion.

    1) Not enough info in the original story to make a judgement on anything.

    2) I have been to barn fires with 14 tankers hauling and still had periods where we were out of water waiting for the next tanker.

    3) If it's poor planning, shame on them.

    4) Mr Murphy is a Son of a Bitch and even with great planning things go to pieces some times.

    By the way my little podunk volly FD bought a 2000 gpm pumper. Our municipal system can't come close to supplying that much water so we installed 2 dry hydrants side by side so we can draft and supply water through the 3500 feet of 5 inch we have. We got a lot of funny looks when we bought that truck!!
    And how many people do you think understand why there are two, side by side?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610 View Post
    And how many people do you think understand why there are two, side by side?
    The one's that matter?

    Fuuny thing is for quite a while we had the biggest pump in our county and now there is I believe one other 2000 gpm engine.

    We actually have the dry hydrants far enough apart where if 2 mutual aid engines were to need to they could set up and draft from one a piece. It would take some creative thinking since they are about 6 feet apart, but it could be done.

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    The fire isnt the issue here. The water is. Its a failure on the part of the local government to secure a water source for firefighting. How do the homeowners get water for their houses? I assume they all are on private wells. Around our parts developers are required to secure a water source the local fire dept and county certify for the use of fire fighting. If there are water mains then the developer pays to bring feed lines and hydrants in. If the water is wells than they dig and pay for the wells and test them for several years. In past decades they used to put in cisterns. Funny story, back during prohibition a bootlegger filled his cistern with booze. The barn caught fire, our dept was about to draft the booze pit when the farmer stopped him.

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    Now that the problem has been identified, I'm curious what course of action this department is taking to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    Now that the problem has been identified, I'm curious what course of action this department is taking to make sure it doesn't happen again.
    And there may not be a whole lot that they can do that would change the outcome. You can't make sure nothing ever happens again. Somestimes buildings are going to burn because of circumstances beyond our control.
    Last edited by nmfire; 07-13-2009 at 02:49 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    And there may not be a whole lot that they can do that would change the outcome. You can't make sure nothing ever happens again. Somestimes buildings are going to burn because of circumstances beyond our control.
    I can understand that. However, if they have a problem providing water to an area near a lake, they need to figure out how to overcome that problem. Maybe it's dry hydrants, perhaps TurboDrafts, or maybe even automatic aid.

    There's a solution somewhere to help prevent them from running out of water, or at least reduce the amount of time they're without water. As a fire department, their job is to find that solution. Once they find that solution, or solutions, they present it to whatever body governs their funding and present it. If that body does nothing, it's off the FD's back and they can point at that body next time it happens.

    We've had water problems in our past, too. It resulted in auto-aid agreements, applying for (and being awarded) a pumper-tanker through a grant, procuring a tanker through the FEPP program (6,000 gallons), and applying for (and being awarded) a grant for LDH, drafting equipment, and TurboDrafts.

    I can feel for a department that has the unexpected happen to them. However, I can't feel for one that refuses to try to address the problem.
    Last edited by Catch22; 07-13-2009 at 03:14 PM.

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    I don't know in this particular instance if this is the case or not but here goes anyways.


    Annexation of rural/suburban land into a city. That area has no water supply and the city fire department doesn't have any tankers. The progressive fire departments make arrangements with rural/suburban FD's for water supply until they can establish their own system. The others pray something won't happen and when it does all hell breaks loose.

    The sad part is the Fire Department claims there is no water supply and that is why the structure burned down. The truth is a huge failure to plan.

    Again, I have no knowledge of this story other than what I have read here so I make no inferences or assumptions of the answer in this case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Annexation of rural/suburban land into a city. That area has no water supply and the city fire department doesn't have any tankers. The progressive fire departments make arrangements with rural/suburban FD's for water supply until they can establish their own system. The others pray something won't happen and when it does all hell breaks loose.
    We're dealing with just this on my career department. As we annex, we have areas with no hydrants. Of course, we have no tankers. We don't even carry hard suction on our apparatus. The solution is the fire district that used to protect it provides us with a tanker shuttle and an engine to draft from the dump tank and pump to our apparatus. That is if they don't beat us to the scene and initiate attack themselves, in which case we'll integrate into the operation and assume command when the BC arrives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    We're dealing with just this on my career department. As we annex, we have areas with no hydrants. Of course, we have no tankers. We don't even carry hard suction on our apparatus. The solution is the fire district that used to protect it provides us with a tanker shuttle and an engine to draft from the dump tank and pump to our apparatus. That is if they don't beat us to the scene and initiate attack themselves, in which case we'll integrate into the operation and assume command when the BC arrives.
    So they are going to haul water and initiate attack and yet you are going to take command from them? Hum .... seems like a rather odd approach. Does your city run automatic aid for the district in the area not in the city?

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