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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Default Sf Gate News Article

    I have a question that is posed purely as a hypothetical, that will be seen at the end of this post.

    San Francisco's fire chief flatly dismissed the idea Monday of retrofitting the city's 8,000 hydrants to be immediately accessible to out-of-city fire crews, saying she still prefers to pass out adapters during an emergency.

    "If it was truly worth doing it, I would be fully in support of it,'' Chief Joanne Hayes-White told the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in rejecting the idea of affixing permanent adapters to the city's standard 3-inch-hose hydrants to work with the 2 1/2-inch hoses used by every other department in the state. "It's not practical at this point and it is not worth the expenditure.''

    San Francisco is the only city in California exempted from a law that required fire departments to standardize their hydrants and hoses after the 1991 Oakland hills firestorm -- a situation that critics have attacked in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    San Francisco officials had persuaded the Legislature that it would be too difficult to change the city's existing water system -- one they say was built expressly to deal with fires after a major earthquake like the 1906 blaze that destroyed much of the city.

    Hayes-White did not offer an estimate on the cost of the retrofit during the committee hearing Monday. However, a representative of James Jones Co., a fire hydrant manufacturer in El Monte (Los Angeles County), suggested to the committee that he could retrofit the hydrants for less than $800,000.

    "It's pretty simple to do this,'' said John McCreary, vice president for James Jones. "In volume, it (the cost) comes down from there.''

    Hayes-White prefers a $100,000 alternative to the hydrant problem: creating 1,000 adapter kits to distribute to out-of-town fire crews that, in emergencies, would go to staging areas before being sent to fight fires.

    "It's not necessary to outfit all 8,000 hydrants with adapters -- knowing you're going to have a face-to-face meeting (to hand out adapters) in a staging area,'' Hayes-White said.

    An official with the state office of emergency services said such staging meetings are part of the protocol for mutual aid. OES Assistant Chief Marvin Howard, who visited Louisiana, said Katrina showed that Louisiana agencies were "not communicating, coordinating and adapting.'' California, in contrast, has a well-established mutual aid system, he said.

    Hayes-White said that in the event of a disaster, the staging areas where emergency officials would meet would be at four entrances to the city -- the Bay and Golden Gate bridges, Highway 101 near Monster Park and Interstate 280 near 19th Avenue.

    Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, who vigorously questioned the chief and other experts she took to the meeting, said he will continue to press for hydrant standardization.

    He and fellow supervisor Ross Mirkarimi stressed the city should more vigorously seek federal money, rather than city funds, to address the problem, even enlisting federal legislators for help.

    Hayes-White said her department was told a federal grant to pay the cost was not available, but added that even if money materialized for her department, there would be other ways she would spend it.

    "If the money fell from the sky I think I would have a dozen other priorities,'' she said, including more equipment and standby medical supplies.

    Sandoval wanted Hayes-White to assure him that the city had "absolutely nothing to fear from the hydrant system we have.''

    Hayes-White said "it would be very difficult to say there will be no problem'' with the system. Hayes-White said she was confident that the hydrants, underground cisterns, fire boats and other equipment now in place will be "sufficient in times of great need.''


    Question: Chief Hayes-White indicates that due to expense she is not willing to entertain retrofitting all SF hydrants to CA standards. She is willing to create MA packs for supporting outside units, to be collected at certain RV points. That being said, my question is this:

    Of the four RV points, how many are at or very near to an opertational fire station? If they are not nearby, and a specified unit from SFFD must respond to those RV points, what is to say that in the event of a major incident (ie tsunami or Texas City explosion, whereupon there is no road access AND/OR those units designated are no longer viable? Are those MA units expected to fend for themselves in the hope of finding the needed gear?

    I know that CA has about the best working MA agreements going and that they do generally work very well together in mixed agencies, which is awesome. I just hope that this decision does not detract from that track record.

    I suspect that scenario is probably unlikely to happen, and I post it strictly as a What If?
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    With the fairly isolated nature of SF (it is a penninsula and there are only a few ways onto it) I don't really think it is a big deal and the Chief's plan seems reasonable. I mean really we are talking about buying a bunch of 3" > 2.5" adaptors to give to the closest departments and a bunch of mutual aid packs for additional resources vs buying several adaptors per hydrant, labor to attach them and refitting thousands of pieces of 3" hose. Plus the fact that 3" hose with 3" couplings is more efficient than 3" hose with 2.5" couplings and SF uses 3" hose for supply, not LDH so it would reduce their water supply ops efficiency somewhat.

    Of course Oakland did a similar thing prior to the Oakland hills fire, Oakland used to have 3" hydrants, so they bought adaptors for the neighboring departments in case of a major incident. Unfortunately by the time of the Oakland hills fire most of these departments had forgotten why these adaptors were on the engines and had removed them.


    I don't recall hearing alot of issues with SF's 3" hydrants during the Loma Prieta earthquake unlike the 1991 Oakland hills fire a few years later.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 10-18-2005 at 10:50 PM.

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    Actually Oakland changed after the 1991 Hill fire. prior to the hydrant conversions we attempted to have large stocks of adapters on hand for distribution to incoming mutual aid companies. However this plan proved impractical in the long term for Oakland.
    What becomes especially complicated will be deciding how to handle all the sprinkler and standpipe inlets as well as the standpipe outlets all of which are currently 3". In Oakland we have to carry increasers and reducers in both 3" and 21/2" sizes just to be sure we can connect to whatever fitting we find. Kind of a mess really.
    Also connecting to the hydrant may be a moot issue if the earthquake is large enough you will lose the water mains anyway.During the hill fire our hydrants in the burn area lost water after about 2 hours. due to the reservoirs running dry and the pumps to refill them losing power

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    In Oakland we have to carry increasers and reducers in both 3" and 21/2" sizes just to be sure we can connect to whatever fitting we find. Kind of a mess really.
    Aren't those the things that Engine Companies should be carring?

    FTM-PTB

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    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    I have been following htis issue and it simply makes my want to bang my head against the wall.

    Why?

    Because its 2005, not 1955. Money is not the issue here, its simply change. This agency doent want to change to fit the rest of the state and its truely sad because its going to come back and really bite them in the ***.

    Hand out adapters at four check points? Are you kidding me? And they were handing out life rafts to the outside mutual aid teams in Louisana too. Everything was perfect ahead of time- bottled water, sleeping bags, etc...

    Yes, we have an awesome mutual aid plan here. But working crews will be too committed to the incident to remember to break away to give out "coupling bags" at check points.

    Simply a bad idea.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 10-19-2005 at 01:23 AM.

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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Thanks Bou, I feel much as you do here. Your point of
    But working crews will be too committed to the incident to remember to break away to give out "coupling bags" at check points."
    is exactly where my thoughts were.

    Maybe more sense and dollars will be found somewhere in the future.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Those who do not study history are bound to repeat it. Please scan 5 paragraphs down...

    http://www.firewise.org/pubs/theOakl...ire/water.html

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    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    We carry adaptors to fit all the different hydrants of the different jursidictions around us. Not to tough to do, and far cheaper then replacing all of a municipalities hydrants.
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    FFred right you are. Though within the confines of your own jurisdiction it would be reasonable to expect a standardized size. That went out the window when Oakland changed, we may find a mix of 21/2 and 3" in the same building. Not a big deal til the fire starts

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU
    I have been following htis issue and it simply makes my want to bang my head against the wall.

    Why?

    Because its 2005, not 1955. Money is not the issue here, its simply change. This agency doent want to change to fit the rest of the state and its truely sad because its going to come back and really bite them in the ***.

    Hand out adapters at four check points? Are you kidding me? And they were handing out life rafts to the outside mutual aid teams in Louisana too. Everything was perfect ahead of time- bottled water, sleeping bags, etc...

    Yes, we have an awesome mutual aid plan here. But working crews will be too committed to the incident to remember to break away to give out "coupling bags" at check points.

    Simply a bad idea.

    2.5" is actually a bad idea if you are running 3" hose as your supply line, 2.5" has twice the friction loss of 3", 3" with 2.5" couplings is only about 75% effective compared to 3"/3". 3" has a coefficient of 0.65, 3" with 2.5" couplings is 0.8. Really SF and Oakland were on the right path for departments that don't want to run LDH.

    I agree with FFFred, adaptors are the kind of things that should be on an engine anyway, 2.5" or 3" hydrants shouldn't even be an issue, besides most hydrants have a 4.5" steamer connection which is pretty much universal. How many engine companies are carrying 2" NPSH - 2.5" adaptors, they prove pretty handy since 2" NPSH is a very common connection on industrial water trucks which are likely to be used in a disaster that takes out the water supply, I haven't seen many that do.

    Son044 I think you misread my post, you are correct that Oakland permanently put 2.5" adaptors on the hydrants following the Oakland hills fire, but they had provided adaptors to many East Bay departments prior to the fire which is what I was referring to.

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    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Sorry guys, this is really a no-brainer for me. Fit the hydrant right so they match the rest of the state. The state of California has 52 counties and this one just has to be different just to say they are different?

    They follow other state vehicle codes, so why does this particular item have to stand out.

    Just fix it, join the standard and get over with it.

    MARK MY WORDS, this issue is oging to come back and bite them in the *** in the future. Hurricane Katrina part 2 and just watch the finger pointing.

    Fix it right and be done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU
    Sorry guys, this is really a no-brainer for me. Fit the hydrant right so they match the rest of the state. The state of California has 52 counties and this one just has to be different just to say they are different?

    They follow other state vehicle codes, so why does this particular item have to stand out.

    Just fix it, join the standard and get over with it.

    MARK MY WORDS, this issue is oging to come back and bite them in the *** in the future. Hurricane Katrina part 2 and just watch the finger pointing.

    Fix it right and be done.

    I understand your point about being the same as the rest of the state but I don't know how much you know about SF's water system. They really do have an exceptional system of redundancy probably better than any other city in the state, from cisterns (big water tanks) at many intersections to their high pressure hydrant system and the ability to supply the hydrants along the water front from the fire boat, all this is in addition to the hydrant system off the municipal water supply. However all those redundant systems require special training and / or equipment to use, those are also the systems that will most likely be the only ones working so outsiders still will need to work with SF units to get water.

    I've noticed alot of city engines in California have stopped carrying draft hose so the cisterns would be of no use to many, the high pressure system requires special equipment and training to use it. The system along the water front requires a fire boat and the knowledge it exists. This was a problem for Oakland in the 1991 fire, the city had developed a system to provide water in the hills if the pumps went out, they have special hydrants in the hills that allow an engine to pump into the hydrant system, so you could place engines at various locations and supply water to the hydrants above, this system was put in after the hill fire in the 1970's, unfortunately by 1991 everybody forgot about it. Really even the 2.5" / 3" problem was overblown, communications (well actually lack of) was a much larger problem. I know several people who were on the Oakland hills fire and they saw numerous examples of engine companies fumbling about with the 3" connections and completely ignoring the 4.5" which they easily could have used, most of us are trained to use the smallest hose available to stay mobile during an interface fire, so under tyhe stress of the fire pulling the 5" didn't occur to many. Also SF is not the only place this is still an issue, I worked for a department in Central California and we had a mix of 4" and 4.5" steamer connections on hydrants, we got around this by carrying a 4" to 4.5" increaser, not really a problem. I have seen several cities along the 99 that have 2.5" in one city and 3" in the next, again I assume they deal with this by carrying an adaptor. As you say a no brainer. Mutual aid going to SF will find many problems greater than 3" hydrants, like throwing ladders in a city that is built sideways.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 10-21-2005 at 01:59 AM.

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    But this issue isn't just about retrofitting the hydrants. All 3" hose in SF would be obsolete wouldn't it be? That is a HUGE cost, probably more than reto/replacing hydrants is retrofitting or replacing all the miles of 3" hose with 3" couplings since you could only use the 3" hose with 2.5" couplings now.

    I visited SF earlier this year, and I can second NonSurfinCaFF's statement that SF is a penninsula. There are only a few ways in and out of the city.
    Piscataway Fire Dist #2
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    well, at first I was thinking this is silly, just change the damn hydrants and move on. And while your at it, join the rest of here in 05 and switch to LDH (easy boys, just playin ). But then I read the post about the SF water system and how its designed, how its different from what you will find in most places. So maybe the answer is just supply adaptors to the MA units.

    Another point as to why the Chief may be against this. Maybe the money would have to come out of her budget. Im sure she could find alot more pressing things for the $800K.
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    Personally, I would rather see the money spent on turnout gear, apparatus maintenance, needed equipment, and other safety issues. These issues have a direct impact on today's day-to-day operations and daily service to our citizens. Not to mention, SFFD is experiencing station brownouts due to budget concerns.

    Most, if not all, surrounding departments already carry 3" adapters, especially the departments that already do mutual aid with SF or run into SF areas (such as Daly City or Presidio FD).
    Last edited by frozen7051; 10-21-2005 at 10:09 PM.

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