FRIDAY FORUM: Bring Your Own Water

Engine Companies should bring their own water. Period. It is a common practice for many Fire Departments to take several lines, or all the lines, at a given fire off the first in engine. Later arriving engines simply beach their apparatus and continue to stretch lines off the first due. Though you may get away with this practice nine times out of ten, that one time something goes wrong the consequences are devastating. Placing all your fire attack eggs in one basket adds tremendous risk to fireground operations. 

Consider how easily you could jeopardize the operating members: hydrant failure, intake blockage, pump failure, burst length(s), pump operator error, supply compromise. Any one of these could result in a loss of water to attack lines, and the complete collapse of fire attack. Then what? There is no redundancy, so the epic reflex time to reestablish new water supply with out of place engines will result in property loss at best and fatalities at worst. An overwhelming number of LODDs have a loss of effective fire attack at their core. 

So what’s the solution? Diversify your water supply. At a minimum, the fireground should have two independent attack engines with independent water supplies. At best, every engine gets its own hydrant and stretches its own line. Do the work. In these a photos, as third due engine at a Second Alarm fire, we reverse laid a full block and a half to supply our own water at a significant and complex fire. The result? An effective fire attack. It’s your party. Bring your own water.

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