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Thread: To grab a hydrant or not

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    Default To grab a hydrant or not

    We have been considering changing our sog's to give the first arriving engine more leeway in regards to grabbing a hydrant. Currently we always grab one, every time. There have been some fires lately that we would have lessened the damage to the home if we could have just used tank water. I know this sounds ridiculous to some but we don't have a guarantee that another engine will lay us a line. Sometimes we get our other engine to respond but sometimes not and our closest mutual aid is always at least thirty mins. out. So if we don't grab one, we may have to hand lay later. This would be left up to the first arriving officer as he does a window size up upon arriving.

    We know a quick knock down works, but under our circumstances do you guys think it is worth the risk? Our should we quit complaining and just get better at grabbing a hydrant?
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    That's an area that clearly can't be answered with a simple black or white answer. It's a call that has to be made based off of several different factors (dispatch info, officer on scene before engine, occupancy, preplanning, maybe even smoke column, etc). Judging by the info you have given, I would personally error on the side of caution. Unfortunately this is one area, that no matter how skilled you are as a volunteer or P.O.C. Dept., that the volunteer system exposes its weakness. When you can't guarantee a high volume response, you have to play with the hand your dealt. In this case the hand should most likely be played as grabbing the plug in my opinion.

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    How far apart are these hydrants?

    How much water does your engine carry?

    Will there ALWAYS be someone there early on who is capable of making the right call if you go on a case by case basis?

    I would generally say take the hydrant but there could be factors that make this the wrong move. Mostly having to do with the time it may take. I just don't know enough about your particular situation to give you a good answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    We have been considering changing our sog's to give the first arriving engine more leeway in regards to grabbing a hydrant. Currently we always grab one, every time. There have been some fires lately that we would have lessened the damage to the home if we could have just used tank water. I know this sounds ridiculous to some but we don't have a guarantee that another engine will lay us a line. Sometimes we get our other engine to respond but sometimes not and our closest mutual aid is always at least thirty mins. out. So if we don't grab one, we may have to hand lay later. This would be left up to the first arriving officer as he does a window size up upon arriving.

    We know a quick knock down works, but under our circumstances do you guys think it is worth the risk? Our should we quit complaining and just get better at grabbing a hydrant?
    IF I understand you -you are saying that catching a plug slows down your attack ?Try Using a "tear away" Velcro loop- and lay a dry line in- get after it with tank water-and if needed have next it-or a good pump operator handle charging the supply line
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    "There have been some fires lately that we would have lessened the damage to the home if we could have just used tank water." - Possibly want to work on your hydrant skills as not much time should be lost due to grabbing a hydrant. Unless of course, that leaves you without enough manpower to make the attack....and in that case...you won't be able to hand jack the line later either.


    "...we don't have a guarantee that another engine will lay us a line."
    "Sometimes we get our other engine to respond"
    "closest mutual aid is always at least thirty mins. out."

    3 solid reasons as to why you should be grabbing the hydrant going in....


    "This would be left up to the first arriving officer as he does a window size up upon arriving. " - if this officer is on the engine, his sizeup might be too late to grab the hydrant. If he goes direct to scene...it can work.


    As said by others, without knowing all details...we can't make a definite decision. But based on what you posted....I'd be grabbing the hydrant.
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    Always pay attention to indicators as you are responding. What was the initial dispatch for?
    -Fire or smoke from the dwelling?
    -Fire Alarm?
    -Unknown problem?
    -Smell of electrical?
    -Smell of smoke?

    Has dispatch provided any additional info?
    -Receiving multiple calls stating visible fire or heavy smoke
    -Police on location confirming fire
    -Caller on the line saying they are trapped
    -Caller on the line saying they can see fire/smoke

    If it sounds like "something" then of course it could BE "something" and you should of course drop a line if your next due resources will be delayed. Remember that there is an option of charging the line or not- that call lays on the Company-Level officer. Wrapping the hydrant is easy and takes seconds. You don't even have to leave anyone there, just wrap it and drive- remember once you pull up on scene and commit (pulling lines....) you CANNOT go back and drop in- but you would also have to commit 2 or 3 guys to hand-stretch.

    We leave the decision to drop in on the shoulders of our company officers- who combined with our dispatchers are pretty good at determining if they have to or not. But we are also blessed with next-due engines less than 5-10 mins out- we have a box system and any dwelling fire gets at least 3 and 2 during the daytime from the start- and if its a confirmed fire the bosses will usually upgrade by adding an additional 1 and 1.
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    The hydrants that work are three hundred yards part and the engines carry 500 gallons. I would say that more often than not, an officer would be on the engine capable of making the call, but then again maybe not. The main issue for us seems to be training. We have firefighters that should sit in the hydrant seat but will not because they would have to stay there until the engineer calls for water. They will not go interior but wont grab the hydrant either, preferring to put on a scba and stay in the yard. So one of our four interior guys has to grab a hydrant, wait for the engineer, and then run back to join the interior crew, which may be just him and another person. So yeah, it is all pretty slow, or at least seams slow. I would prefer yard breathers grab hydrants but I guess it is not glamorous enough.
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    I am a believer in NEVER passing a hydrant if you have enough supply line to lay in.

    For me, it's pretty black and white.

    While it may delay fire attack slightly, water supply is critical for our safety.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-03-2013 at 10:50 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    IF I understand you -you are saying that catching a plug slows down your attack ?Try Using a "tear away" Velcro loop- and lay a dry line in- get after it with tank water-and if needed have next it-or a good pump operator handle charging the supply line
    Well, I am embarrassed to say I had not thought of this idea, but hey that is why I asked. So the yard breather could still get his picture taken at the fire and then get sent back to open the plug? I like it.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
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    I personally grab a hydrant on anything that sounds like something. I base this off of dispatch information.The time it takes to stop and wrap a hydrant is minimal for the benefits it provides. As much as I hate to admit la's post is spot on. Now with every rule there are exceptions. If I have a confirmed persons trapped we are going straight in. Communicated over the radio that we will not have a water supply. Our 2nd due is usually about 1 2 mins out. If the address is less than 200 ft from the hydrant the driver will hand jack the line to the hydrant. Establishing a water supply is one of the highest priorities of the engine company.

    As for the yard breathers not wanting to wrap the hydrant. Once I give an order to someone to wrap the hydrant it is not optional. They WILL follow through with it or that will be the last time they ride my truck. We are not in a position for people to only perform task they want to do.

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    I'm not trying push their equipment on anyone. But, TFT makes a hydrant adapter that would help to solve part of the issue you have. The hydrant man can simply hook up and open the hydrant and come up to the scene. When the Operator is ready for water he can open the hydrant via RC remote. I believe they reach 1000'-1200' roughly. I know budget money can be tight but it may solve some manpower issues early on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Well, I am embarrassed to say I had not thought of this idea, but hey that is why I asked. So the yard breather could still get his picture taken at the fire and then get sent back to open the plug? I like it.
    I don't give a rats ***** if they get a picture taken at the fire or not. If you are the hydrant man you take the hydrant and stay with it until the mpo calls for water. Not every fire you go on will you be in the spot light. In this bussiness we operate as a team. Only one person will score the touchdown but it will take everyone to get the ball across the goal line.
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Well, I am embarrassed to say I had not thought of this idea, but hey that is why I asked. So the yard breather could still get his picture taken at the fire and then get sent back to open the plug? I like it.
    As I was reading others replies I was thinking along the lines of what slackjaw was saying too. That's what we do.

    Granted in most cases we have another engine and a truck coming just a few mins behind us, but it would work when you don't have a good picture of what you have until you pull up. Our 1st due lays it's own line, but doesn't connect. 2nd engine due completes our connection to the plug, then proceeds to scene. It works well for us though and we've got it timed that we work off of tank until we have a source. There are cases where if we know the 2nd in is on another call or will be delayed that we will complete the hookup, but that's case by case.

    Even if you don't have a 2nd engine coming for a while at least the line is laid and it's easy for one person to go back and hook it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFD21C View Post
    As for the yard breathers not wanting to wrap the hydrant. Once I give an order to someone to wrap the hydrant it is not optional. They WILL follow through with it or that will be the last time they ride my truck. We are not in a position for people to only perform task they want to do.
    EXACTLY.

    This sounds more and more like a training problem- your guys need to be trained that there is a unified chain of command and it starts with either the senior man on the rig or the person in the right/front seat. If you are told to do something, you do it without question and you do it to the best of your abilities. Period.

    If you don't do it, the first offense you and I will be having a discussion in the office. I wont even get into a second time.
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    The one big negative to laying a dry line and attacking with tank water is finding out you have a dead hydrant. You have committed the engine so you cant change up and reverse to the next hydrant very easy, and of course your tank water will be low.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    The one big negative to laying a dry line and attacking with tank water is finding out you have a dead hydrant. You have committed the engine so you cant change up and reverse to the next hydrant very easy, and of course your tank water will be low.
    Our problems with dead hydrants is worse in the winter. Sometimes the city will flush a hydrant and not get it closed all the way so it freezes up. The ones that don't work are mapped and tagged. We drove past a hydrant on a structure fire earlier this year confidant that it would be a short hand lay if we needed it, we did and it was frozen. I asked later if the three hundred yard hand lay was a bitch, they said indeed it was.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    EXACTLY.

    This sounds more and more like a training problem- your guys need to be trained that there is a unified chain of command and it starts with either the senior man on the rig or the person in the right/front seat. If you are told to do something, you do it without question and you do it to the best of your abilities. Period.

    If you don't do it, the first offense you and I will be having a discussion in the office. I wont even get into a second time.
    Our problem is that it is kind of a free for all as to who gets to sit where. We have a designated hydrant seat and it is always the last to get filled. Another problem was the driver/pump operator. Any old volunteer could learn to drive the engine, but would not learn how to engineer the engine. So there was always a Chinese fire drill at the scene. The Chief got ****ed and said who ever drives the truck sure as hell better be able to run the pump. I always sit in the hydrant seat because I am usually the last to the station. It is frustrating because someone who wont go interior usually wont sit in the hydrant seat, forcing me to do it.
    Should I suggest to the officers that they make a rule that less capable FFs sit in the hydrant seat? I like the idea.
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Our problem is that it is kind of a free for all as to who gets to sit where. We have a designated hydrant seat and it is always the last to get filled. Another problem was the driver/pump operator. Any old volunteer could learn to drive the engine, but would not learn how to engineer the engine. So there was always a Chinese fire drill at the scene. The Chief got ****ed and said who ever drives the truck sure as hell better be able to run the pump. I always sit in the hydrant seat because I am usually the last to the station. It is frustrating because someone who wont go interior usually wont sit in the hydrant seat, forcing me to do it.
    Should I suggest to the officers that they make a rule that less capable FFs sit in the hydrant seat? I like the idea.
    the problem is define "less capable" from an operational standpoint.

    If you had non-interior members, that could be a legitimate operational designation.
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    I actually like the idea of some old fart that can do one job and always shows up to do it. What I don't like is the PARTICIPATION RIBBON mentality that seem to be ever present in the volunteer fire service. I define less capable as cant/wont don scba, cant/wont throw a ladder, cant/wont grab a hydrant, cant/wont learn to operate the engine, cant/wont hand me a pike pole, cant/wont add a length of hose, cant/wont go back for more bottles, cant/wont get the extrication cart off the engine, cant/wont drive a tender. And then I cant tell them to get the hell out of my way because I am not senior enough. So I get stuck in a support roll for the yard breathers.

    I guess I needed to get that off my chest.
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    so you end up with a $350,000 engine with four hydrants guys wearing $15,000 worth of gear ---is that money well spent? Ive caught a ton of plugs in my time, and guess what ? I usually hoof it back to the engine as fast as I can, I guess your specialty hydrant guy can drop off a folding chair and his nitro pills along with the hydrant bag.
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Our problem is that it is kind of a free for all as to who gets to sit where. We have a designated hydrant seat and it is always the last to get filled. Another problem was the driver/pump operator. Any old volunteer could learn to drive the engine, but would not learn how to engineer the engine. So there was always a Chinese fire drill at the scene. The Chief got ****ed and said who ever drives the truck sure as hell better be able to run the pump. I always sit in the hydrant seat because I am usually the last to the station. It is frustrating because someone who wont go interior usually wont sit in the hydrant seat, forcing me to do it.
    Should I suggest to the officers that they make a rule that less capable FFs sit in the hydrant seat? I like the idea.

    What does who sits wear have to do with it. The guy in the officers seat say hey john wrap the hydrant. Regardless of where the hellhe is sitting if you have a guy that only does outside jobs guess what he is taking the hydrant while the interior guys go in and be real firemen. It that simple. I understand in a planned enviroment where all personnel have the same training assigned seat to job functions. For example John is the ov man for the day he sits here. Frank has the can he sits here. But why do it when you have different personnel and training levels. What happens if the non interior guy sits in the nozzle seat?

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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Should I suggest to the officers that they make a rule that less capable FFs sit in the hydrant seat? I like the idea.
    Having assigned seating positions should not make a difference in the Officers and Senior Members knowing the training/limits and capabilities of members- they SHOULD. And if the hydrant seat is left empty, he/she turns around from the right front seat and says "Hey YOU! You tap the plug." (again it should be done without question.)

    As for the drivers not knowing how to pump- that is absolutely one of the most asenine things I have ever had the displeasure to read- WTF kind of nut farm do you belong to??? Around here you dont drive unless you demonstrate operating the rig in all aspects in an efficient and orderly military manner.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Having assigned seating positions should not make a difference in the Officers and Senior Members knowing the training/limits and capabilities of members- they SHOULD. And if the hydrant seat is left empty, he/she turns around from the right front seat and says "Hey YOU! You tap the plug." (again it should be done without question.)

    As for the drivers not knowing how to pump- that is absolutely one of the most asenine things I have ever had the displeasure to read- WTF kind of nut farm do you belong to??? Around here you dont drive unless you demonstrate operating the rig in all aspects in an efficient and orderly military manner.
    I like all of the suggestions. For some reason if you sit in the hydrant seat, you are the hydrant man. I will pass on the idea of the officer paying more attention and making an appropriate call as to capabilities of the people riding in the jump seats. That makes a lot of sense.

    Like I said earlier it was/is kind of a free for all when running towards the engine. However, the driver not being able to pump is a problem that seems to have been addressed.
    Some of the members would rather look cool, and it looks cool when you drive the truck.

    Thanks for the discussion guys.
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    The hydrants that work are three hundred yards part and the engines carry 500 gallons. I would say that more often than not, an officer would be on the engine capable of making the call, but then again maybe not. The main issue for us seems to be training. We have firefighters that should sit in the hydrant seat but will not because they would have to stay there until the engineer calls for water. They will not go interior but wont grab the hydrant either, preferring to put on a scba and stay in the yard. So one of our four interior guys has to grab a hydrant, wait for the engineer, and then run back to join the interior crew, which may be just him and another person. So yeah, it is all pretty slow, or at least seams slow. I would prefer yard breathers grab hydrants but I guess it is not glamorous enough.
    Sounds like it's time to either get some people properly trained or get rid of them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    We have firefighters that should sit in the hydrant seat but will not because they would have to stay there until the engineer calls for water.

    They will not go interior but wont grab the hydrant either, preferring to put on a scba and stay in the yard.

    So one of our four interior guys has to grab a hydrant, wait for the engineer, and then run back to join the interior crew, which may be just him and another person.
    Dude......No offense, but what the hell kind of a goat fcuk fest is this place? Sounds like your chief and each and every one of his officers needs to be kicked in the nuts until they spit blood, and then 20 more times for good measure.
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