From one of our Fire and EMS blogs, First Due Questions with an initial water supply discussion


“You are responding to a confirmed working fire, do you lay in always or let your second due engine bring you water?"

"Is your decision based on your staffing?”

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Being with an all volunteer department, and the way manpower is anymore, we don't know who we have coming, so we like to establish our own water supply if possible.

First out the door is our quint. Usually one of the people working the ambulance is also a FF, or has had fire training in the past. If they are available and not with patients, we have them establish the water supply for us to free up one FF. If the EMT has no fire training, and the next due piece of apparatus is not right behind us, and we have the manpower we will establish our own water supply. Another option that we have is having the operator grab his own plug due to hydrants in our first being very close together.

So far, this tactic has worked in our favor.

Why do we care what does or does not "look good" to the public?

Even though it is a little off topic, the public donates, pay our bills, and/or salaries. We had better care.

In subdivisions with hydrants, the second in will grab the plug. In areas without hydrants, and/or long driveways, the first in will drop LDH for the tankers, and lay in to the fire.

In my department if its in our boro then fist due hits the hydrant and in the township other departments get us water. We are a rural volunteer fire company with a small town. In the boro 622 responds first and it carries 750 gallons and in the township 623 goes with 2000 gallons.

I understand they foot the bill. What I means is they won't for the most part understand what they're seeing as they observe us. How our tactics and procedures may look to them would be pretty far down the priority list, IMO.

Don't see why "hung ho" departments would do that.  It doesn't take more than an extra 10 seconds to lay out.

We always lay out.  Staffing isn't an issue for us with at least 4 on each engine and at least 5 on each truck.  First due engine will drop their humat valve at the hydrant and lay out.  The lay out guy USUALLY jumps back on and goes on into the house.  The second due engine does the same to the rear.  Third due engine secures the first due water supply at the engine.  Fourth due picks up second due's line.

One variable is the lay out man staying at the hydrant.  This depends on the area.  Our fifth battalion happens to be our wealthier part of town.  They will have longer lay outs, as well as less companies nearby due to the density.  The lay out man may stay at the hydrant to charge the line when needed.  In most of the city, companies are right now top of each other with some fire houses being within 5 blocks of each other.  In these areas, they drop the line and go to the fire.  Third due will be on scene within another minute or so to pick up your line and connect it to the hydrant for you.  This is usually done by the third due driver while the crew pulls an attack line to back up the first due company in the house.

I can chime in for the "all rural" fire district part of this discussion as I come from a small fire district, with a little over 2000 people and no water distribution system at all.  The only hydrants we have are dry-hydrants near water sources like ponds and streams.

Our operations could be labor intensive and require more manpower, which we dont have either...lovely!

Sometimes getting a water source could mean hand-stretching a suction hose through swampy terrain to a small pond, cutting or drilling through 4-8 inches of ice and maintaining the opening so it does not re-freeze, setting up one or two large portable ponds (folding tanks) with siphons to supply 3-4 handlines...Creativity comes into play some times.  One guy drove the engine through a muddy field pedal to the floor to get as close as he could to a pond for a house fire once, he got stuck in the mud and had to be towed out later, but he got close enough and established a draft site and supplied us with the water we needed for a quick knock-down without extensive tanker shuttle ops.

Otherwise, as an assistant chief I try to gain as much info as I can from the dispatcher and make judgement calls by calling for 2-3 tankers mutual aid before I even arrive on scene; my motto is "I would rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it."  This way the tankers are generally arriving by the time our first 3000 gallons is spent (1000 in the engine and 2000 in our engine/tanker), but as mentioned earlier, if we are lucky enough and arrive fast enough we can easily put it out with the 1000 in our engine and still have the 2000 in the E/TA for back up.  We have become very experienced with tanker shuttles and most of our driver/operators know of all the water sources and get there and set up quick enough, then radio the location to all responding MA tankers for after they dump.  We set it up for our mutual aid department to use their mini-pumper to establish fill sights at our known locations with dry-hydrants and gave them maps of their locations and drill with them often on water supply ops and tanker shuttle ops.

Having come from 3 other departments in my past that all had hydrants and at least 2-3 engines, its a definite shock to the system to not have that hydrant across the street or just down the road that you can hand stretch 100 feet of hose to reach, and have to worry about if there is a pond or stream close enough to get just enough water to knock it down enough...Miss those hydrants!!!

I ignored the man power aspect of this post so I should probably throw that in there we are a volunteer department. During the day on average last year we had 10 of our 20 members responding to all calls, and at night we had an average of 16 members responding.

For our department it depends on whether the fire is in the town or in an outlying part of the jurisdiction. If it is in the outlying areas, we roll the tanker as well as the first-due pumper (manpower permitting).

If we have fire or smoke showing, we tag the hydrant and lay in.  If there's entrapment, we go straight in and the next in engine tags the hydrant and lays in.

For my department we usually have second due lay in a line or if it is one of our auto aid departments fire they are working a tender shuttle or just using their pumper tenders. but we run with three man engine companys so manpower is always an issue on first due apparatus


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