1. Not knowing the engine
Today's pumping apparatus are much more than a pump mounted on a truck. They are an amazing piece of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. It's critical that MPOs have a complete understanding of all the whats, whys and hows of their assigned engine.
NFPA 1901: Standard for Motorized Fire Apparatus places an extraordinary amount of responsibility on apparatus manufacturers to provide fire departments with a vast amount of technical information about the pumping apparatus a department purchases.
Both new and incumbent MPOs should take full advantage of everything the manufacturer has to offer to get the most out of every technical feature on their apparatus. This includes the owner's manual, training videos and on-line information and training resources.
2. Not pumping the correct pressure
After a safe arrival and proper positioning of the apparatus, the MPO's first true performance benchmark is the ability to pump the correct pressure to the hose line to deliver the proper flow of water that the nozzle was designed for.
Today's nozzles are marvels of engineering in their own right, but the nozzle can't perform up to its capabilities without proper water flow.
The attack team pulled that nozzle for a reason. If they wanted a different flow, they could have pulled another available hose line and nozzle.
Modern fire engines make it much easier for the MPO to identify the exact required flow pressure for every pre-connected hose line on their apparatus without ever remembering a single mathematical formula — provided they've learned their pump.
3. Not balancing the pressure discharge manifold
The next performance benchmark is delivering the correct pressure to the next hand line pulled without the crew on the first hand line ever knowing anything has changed.
The common mistake here is not maintaining balanced discharge pressures by only opening discharge valves as far as necessary to deliver the correct pressure. The MPO can avoid this mistake by setting the discharge pressure relief valve (on older apparatus) or by using the computerized governors found on modern engines.
4. Not balancing the discharge and intake manifolds
Every drop of water that the MPO provides to deployed hand lines first came into the pump through the pump's intake manifold. Both intake and discharge manifolds have many holes with valves attached to them that the MPO needs to control if they are to effectively deliver functional fire streams.
If the MPO has 750 gpm coming into the intake manifold, then they should be able to deliver no less than 750 gpm from the discharge manifold.
A proficient MPO doesn't keep secret the fact that the water supply is delivering 750 gpm and the attack crew is only using 250 gpm. It's really helpful for the incident commander to know that they still have 500 gpm of available supply, especially if the fire isn't going out right away.
5. Not managing the intake manifold
The MPO's fourth performance benchmark is quickly managing the pump's intake manifold. Today's faster and hotter burning fires put a premium on the ability of attacking fire crews to flow the wet stuff on the red stuff to prevent flashover.
Many departments are using a transitional fire attack strategy based on fire-behavior research coming from UL and NIST. Obtaining a successful outcome when employing a transitional fire attack is predicated on getting those initial hose lines properly supplied.
Particularly in suburban or rural areas, the MPO must work incredibly hard to build an effective water supply. In many cases, the MPO has available water coming from several different directions simultaneously — booster tank water, supply lines and front/side suction intakes.
Effectively managing the intake manifold will enable the MPO to deliver the critical fire flow necessary to put the fire out now, not in an hour after the fuels have burned down to whatever water was being flowed.
About the author:
Batt. Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS, and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy's EFO Program. Contact Robert at Robert.Avsec@FireRescue1.com.
5 fire engine pump operator mistakes:
by Batt. Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.)
Here's how to correct the most common pump operator mistakes and bonus tips from seasoned fire service veterans.
I've always taught firefighters training to become a motor pump operator (MPO) that nobody is busier than the MPO in the first 10 minutes of any fire.
There is a lot of knowledge, skill and hustle that must be employed to establish a water supply, supply the attack lines or appliances and carry out support tasks identified by the MPO's own observations such as scene lighting, pulling additional hand lines or raising ground ladders.
Recently, I connected with a fellow firefighter on LinkedIn who listed his job as fire control engineer. Thinking this was perhaps a new term for firefighter in his department, I asked him what his job description entailed.
He replied that his primary responsibilities were for driving and operating the engine that he was assigned to. In the common fire service vernacular, he was a motor pump operator.
I like the term fire control engineer. For me, it more accurately describes the technical and mechanical nature of the job.
Call it what you will, it is a tough job with little margin for error. Here are the five most common mistake MPOs make and how to set them right.
Is Fire Department Consolidation Inevitable?
Reprinted from an article by: BY DR. TIM MCGRATH & DR. VICTORIA MCGRATH McGrath Consulting Group, Inc.
The very word consolidation still has a tendency to raise a level of anxiety in so many. Some view it as the greatest money saver of all times or the best method to improve services; others the loss of their power or job. Ironically, it could be none or all of the above. Simply, consolidation equals change and change is most difficult for many individuals and professions - especially those with strong traditions.
There is no doubt that the fire service works better together, at an emergency, then any other emergency agency. Working together off the emergency scene is what non-fire folks (i.e. elected and governing officials) understand and for the most part embrace. In fact the principle is so simple they ask, "Why can't we share resources when there are no emergencies". Many Fire Chief's attempt to argue you can't - it won't work - we are unique - our department is better, somehow mutual/automatic aid is different. However, one of the largest consolidations in the United States is in your state and it works quite well. The only real issues remaining, are who will lead the consolidation - the fire service or those outside the fire service, and when?
Let's put the term consolidation into context. Consolidations are like relationships. I would like to date that person - to - I want to marry that person; there is a lot in between. The principles of working together and sharing resources at the emergency scene can apply to the non-emergency arena as well. Consolidations:
> Work - there are examples in your state.
> Save money - the greatest savings is in future cost avoidance.
> Improve services - if we take the best of two organizations and combine them, we should, and most often do, get a better outcome.
> Improve personnel safety at the emergency scene - training together can create a safer working enivornment at the emergency scene.
> Are increasing as we speak - not only in the fire service but in many different government services.
How Do You Begin
Governing officials and Fire Chief must meet and define their expectations. Most likely governing officials will focus on money; whereas Fire Chiefs will focus on service. It is at this point where most consolidations fail. Why? Because unless both groups focus on outcomes and agree on an acceptable outcome, each will continue to walk down a separate path rather than a single path that ultimately reaches the objective.
The next step or steps will depend on what type of consolidation best accomplishes the objective: The most common types of consolidation include:
Administrative - departments remain legally separate but consolidate administrative/staff functions - i.e. a single Fire Chief
Functional - departments remain legally separate but perform special functions as if a single consolidated department - i.e. apparatus maintenance, training officer, etc.
Operational - departments remain legally separate but join together both administrative and operation functions, delivering services as if they were one with boundaries becoming invisible.
Full - two departments legally become a single legal agency with taxing authority with boundaries becoming invisible. Currently this is not legally allowed in Wisconsin unlike many states.
Merge - one department absorbs the other, resulting in a single entity.
In an administrative consolidation, the focus needs to be the leadership and support resources. Can your department consolidate administrative functions such as secretarial, IT, human resource, payroll, bookkeeping, ambulance billing, purchasing, etc. Could a single Fire Chief administer two departments?
In the functional, operational, and full consolidation it is advantageous to begin, after a outcome is clearly defined, by inventorying the assets of each department and identify areas of unneeded duplication. Most departments already have mutual/automatic aid agreements with their neighbors. Functional consolidation just expands the concept of mutual/automatic aid to an everyday concept. For example, instead of each department purchasing an aerial device could they jointly purchase and utilize this apparatus in both communities when needed. Could one department provide a reserve engine for several communities if another department would provide a reserve tender or squad? Instead of department purchasing a squad and tender, could one community purchase the squad the other the tender and the apparatus goes where it is needed. Could several departments share a training officer; after all isn't training a safety issue? These types of consolidation will eliminate unnecessary and expensive duplication of resources.
Believing you must have all the resources needed within your personal arsenal leads to the situation actually encountered in your state. Three small fire departments and one rescue squad considered consolidation. Between the four agencies they had more "jaws of life" equipment than the City of Milwaukee; needless to say call volumes and service demands were not similar.
Today in Wisconsin full consolidations (by definition) are not allowed. However, operational consolidations offer the same benefits with the exception of an independent taxing authority (i.e. district). In both of these types of consolidations the areas served are done so by a single department under a single Fire Chief. To the citizen it is simply a department that serves more than one community.
A merge is exactly what it implies. One department simply absorbs the other and provides protection to both areas. Although at the unset a merge might sound like a difficult way to combine resources; it is in fact the quickest, most practical, and often the least expensive method.
What Will Happen If We Do This?
There will always be fires to fight, victims to treat, and a host of other activities conducted by today's progressive fire service. Scarce resources (people and money) can be combined to provide the personnel, apparatus, and equipment needed to safely function at the emergency scene. Initially, there will be those that feel they will lose power/control; but the issue isn't about power and/or control it should be about providing the highest level of service within the fiscal capabilities of the communities.
The title of this article asked if consolidations were inevitable? The author has spent a great portion of his life researching, reading, writing about, creating, and/or implementing consolidations and therefore, answers that question as 'yes'. Perhaps a better question more applicable to today's enivornment would be: who will lead the consolidation - the fire service or someone from outside the fire service? That answer Chief, is most often within your control. Opportunities most often come disguised a problem - Chiefs that can recognize them find their department benefiting - those that can't, most often find much to complain about.
The Sunbury Fire Department meets the FIRST MONDAY of every month, and the Sunbury Volunteer Firemen's Relief Association meets on the same night immediately following the Department meeting. Meetings start promptly at 7:30 pm, unless otherwise noted.
January 7, 2019 - Americus Hose Company
February 4, 2019 - East Sunbury Hose Company
March 4, 2019 - Good Will Hose Company
April 1, 2019 - Sunbury Steam Fire Engine Company
May 6, 2019 - Rescue Hose Company
June 3, 2019 - Americus Hose Company
July 1, 2019 - East Sunbury Hose Company
August 5, 2019 - Good Will Hose Company
September 9, 2019 - Sunbury Steam Fire Engine Company
October 7, 2019 - Rescue Hose Company
November 4, 2019 - Americus Hose Company
December 2, 2019 - East Sunbury Hose Company
Sunbury Fire Department
Sunbury Fire Department
Welcome to the City of Sunbury's web page for the Sunbury Fire Department & Sunbury Volunteer Firemen's Relief Association. Our members take pride in serving the City of Sunbury, and its surrounding communities, with its six volunteer fire companies and fire police services.
Sunbury Steam Fire Engine Company, Center & Penn St, Sunbury, PA, 17801, 570/286-00657
Rescue Hose Company, 800 Edison Avenue, Sunbury, PA, 17801, 570/286-9017, firstname.lastname@example.org
Americus Hose Company, 100 Linden Street, Sunbury, PA, 17801, 570/286-1409
Friendship Hose Company, 29 South 10th Street, Sunbury, PA, 17801, 570/286-0199
East Sunbury Hose Company #1, 215 Catawissa Avenue, Sunbury, PA, 17801, 570/286-5331
Good Will Hose Company, 500 Reagan Street, Sunbury, PA, 17801, 570/286-2831 ( Currently OUT OF SERVICE )
CommunityAid Donation Bins - Rescue Hose Company and Friendship Hose Company - The Rescue Hose Company, 800 Edison Avenue, Sunbury, and The Friendship Hose Company, 29 South 10th Street, Sunbury, have been partnering with CommunityAid and their "Neighbors Helping Neighbors Program" by placing donation bins at each station. Not only does the community benefit from these donations, but as partners, the Companies receive quarterly cash donations per pound back from CommunityAid. So why not donate! Please remember, only leave items that fit into the donation bin. Please no garbage or broken items. Please discard those items at your own cost. If you have larger items to donate, please take them to the thrift store located at 1070 N. Susquehanna Trail.
***Volunteers Needed*** - Volunteers of all kinds are always needed -- now more than ever. Whether you want to fight fires, operate equipment, direct traffic, help with fundraisers, participate on committees, or even mow the grass or shovel snow, your local fire stations need you! If you are already a member of a local station, go to meetings and keep informed. If you're not a member, join now. Help us continue to make your community a safe place to live. Contact any local station for more information. Thank you.
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