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Who will be supplying your water?
by WithTheCommand.com 
Most fire engines today utilize pumps with the capacity to deliver 500 to 2000 GPM. Most common are 750 to 1500 GPM with a two stage dual impeller front mount, midship or rear mount pumps while mny departments use single stage pumps. Water is carried in a range of 500 to 1000 gallons for first line fire apparatus. 

Does it make sense to have a fire engine with less capacity than your equipment pickup line at the hydrant with this wide range of fire suppression equipment being available? While considering most room and contents fires you need not to worry if the fire load needs a water source of two hand line running 150 to 200 GPM.

When the fire load is greater than 150 to 200 GPM, your fire company's engine is positioned at side1 and you just laid dual lines because heavy fire is visible. 

You size up the scene and recognize there is need for two lines off your engine with the possibility of a third or using the master stream.  Each hand line will carry 150 to 200 GPM and the master stream will deliver 500 to 1000 GPM.

You have just received communications that the second due company has just picked up your lines and established a connection to the hydrant. The second due engine radios that they let the water go. 

Your pump operator is calling for more water from the engine at the hydrant, but they are giving the maximum they have. You check to see what the problem is only to find your 1250 GPM engine is being supplied by an 750 GPM front mount engine.
The second due engine company is running a reserve 750 GPM engine as a first line engine because their 1250 GPM engine is in the shop. 

This is bad time for such a discovery because the fire is making head way on your crew and third due engine has not arrived on the scene.

You call for a second alarm and due to the distance, the second alarm units have to travel, the delay in properly placing an interior knock on the seat of the fire could make  this interior operation into an exterior operation fast.

The rule that has been broken here is the idea of not placing an engine that has the maximum rated capacity at the water source, to supply adequate supply of water to the first arriving engine on side 1.

Another problem with this standard is some 1250 GPM rated engine supplying your water source might be experiencing some type of performance problems.

Most fire department communication centers will communicate a list of fire engines out of service twice a day, usually once in the morning, once in the evening and anytime a fire company places an engine out of service or back in service. 

What they don't tell you is what fire company will be running as a backup. And sometimes a reserve engine will be given a engine number of the first line apparatus.

photo courtesy Spencer Stevenson

If you missed the run down of equipment that is out of service the time to find out this information is not on the fire ground. 

Know the fire apparatus in your area and know the possible reserve engine that might be used. 

Get a complete list updated every quarter of the year. Post this information for your engine operators to review. Throw this monkey wrench into an upcoming drill.

 Know the fire apparatus in your area and know the possible
reserve engine that might be used.