Today I would like to point out the importance of preplanning. We are going to step out of the box a little and combine some wildland interface with tanker shuttle and rural water supply.
A reported structure fire in an area of town outside the water district. The officer on the first due engine strikes a first alarm while responding (a good move). The alarm card showed a response of (5) tankers, (3) additional pumpers, and some specialty operations. An officer report from the scene confirms a structure fire and requests the first arriving engine to lay a supply hose in the driveway. The second arriving engine was ordered to setup the dump tank for arriving tankers, and prepare to draft and pump the supply hose to the fire.
Here in Whately, that is the way it was, and everything went as well as expected. We then critiqued the operation and now we have a new an improved plan.
1. How long is your hose, really? The distance from the dump tank to the attack pumper is 950’; this is the first home on the common driveway.
2. Accessibility is limited due to the 4” supply line weaved down the driveway.
3. The thermal imager was ½ a mile away on the second due pumper.
4. All the rehab equipment had to be carried into the fire scene.
5. The standby ambulance was also staged too far away from the scene if it was needed.
With the new plan we designed an operation that is better and covers operations in a rural setting with a driveway in excess of 800’. It is much easier to create a plan if you have had and worked through the issues before. You should always keep firefighter safety and the “big picture” at the top of the priority list. Here are some of the issues we addressed and how we resolved them.
The new plan:
1. First due pumper responds to the address and becomes the attack pumper with no supply line.
2. Second due pumper responds to the scene and becomes the pumper that lays a supply line to the attack pumper, possibly from the dump tank or from the predetermined relay pumper site.
3. Third due pumper is assigned to be either the relay pumper or the dump tank pumper.
4. The fourth due pumper is assigned a location to fill tankers. A hydrant location is preferred but a draft site will work.
5. Excess apparatus will be staged conveniently at a safe distance from the scene. If there is a relay pumper operation all five pumpers will have an assignment. Added to the alarm card is an ATV capable of scene access for equipment and removing a patient if needed. This ATV will have the ability to maneuver over or around a supply line.
6. After a town wide investigation, we found 40 driveways that are 800’ or longer, some are very close to a mile, and many with wild land interface. Each of the driveways were measured and relay pumper sites were marked, as well as dump tank locations. Each home will be red flagged at the dispatch center as a “rural challenge”. A map will be outfitted in all pumpers with the plan for each address. The plan will prepare responding fire units to be aware there is a long driveway and there may not be enough supply hose on the pumper to reach the fire.
We truly hope we never have to use it, but we are now better prepared.
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Chief Hannum began his career with the Whately Fire Department Muster Team. He travelled across the northeast and competed in many events. The team was very successful and took countless wins. In 1973 he enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Fire Protection Specialist. His training and experience propelled him into the civilian fire service. In 1978 he became an EMT, an Intermediate in 1986, and an EMT/Paramedic in 1994, and is a practicing medic presently. Furthering his career in 1982, he worked for the Amherst Fire Department and received his training from the Massachusetts and National Fire Academies. He has also served as the president of the Firefighters Local 1764 for 5 years. John was appointed Fire Chief of Whately Massachusetts in 2003 where he still is today.
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