How to determine selection of water application

By Michael Lee

To successfully confine an existing fire to the area of discovery, we need to anticipate the heat release of the fire versus the volume of water required in reducing and eliminating the fire. 

To make this decision, some factors must be anticipated when deciding to bring the mobile, standard 1 ¾" preconnect attack line or the larger and bulkier 2 ½" line. 

This decision is made by:

  • Initial size-up
  • Conditions found

One of the criteria for the selection of larger hose lines used to be made based on the occupancy the fire was found in: commercial or residential. 

While this worked well when houses were all less than 2000 square feet, this does not apply to all of the residential structures that we encounter during responses in the United States today. 

In some areas of the country, homes of 20,000 square feet are not unusual. 

Realistically, the selection of water application should be made when anticipating numerous factors:

  • Distance to advance hose line
  • Closest ingress points
  • Materials burning
  • Where the first hose line is required
  • The number of firefighters present to stretch those hose lines
  • Materials burning (fuel load)
  • Whether it is a wind-driven fire
  • Quantity and arrangement of fuel

Michael Lee has 25 years experience in pre-hospital paramedic experience and about 20 years experience in the fire service. He started as a FF/Paramedic and worked up through the ranks, including training officer, to his current position as battalion chief at Cunningham Fire Dept in Colorado. He is currently filling the role of safety officer for FEMA USAR Colorado Task Force One and has military service in the U.S. Navy.

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