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Driving engine over a hand line - good or bad?

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  • Driving engine over a hand line - good or bad?

    I saw this happen today and would like to hear some opinions:

    While driving in my POV I saw flames coming from under the drive wheels of a tractor trailer stopped for a red light.

    I pulled over, alerted the driver, called 911 on my cell phone, and got my small dry chem out of the trunk.

    Another motorist (who happened to be a volunteer firefighter too) stopped to help and used my extinguisher, while I waved traffic around.

    An engine from the local volunteer fire department with 3 firefighters on board (2 in full turnout and SCBA) arrived very quickly.

    They pulled past the vehicle and pulled a rear 1.5" preconnect (looked to be about 150' long and it had a fog nozzle) and the 2 with SCBA approached the fire (grease) with a wide fog pattern.

    The firefighter without SCBA used a portable radio and told other units to "proceed with caution" and directed the crew.

    A second engine arrived a few seconds later and while it was pulling ahead of the first due engine it ran over the hand line that the hose crew was using.

    What's your opinion on driving an engine over an operating hand line in this case I've described?

  • #2
    The first question is why did they drive past the fire in the first place? Driving over the hose is not only bad for the hose but bad for the pump on the truck. If I remember right this is called "water hammer". Not to mention the sudden surge the the hose team will encounter.


    • #3
      I would consider this bad tactics and form.

      First, it looks unprofessional.

      But most importantly what if the hose is damaged or the coupling breaks. You could endanger your crew and selves.


      • #4
        They must have a pretty big budget for replacing hose if they make a habit of doing that.

        I would think parking behind the trailer would be better anyway. It protects everyone from traffic, and you can see the fire as you approach it. If you pull up along side or in fron of it, you would have to walk into traffic to get to the rear of the trailer, and your view would be obstructed by the trailer body.

        Now, running over the hose that is being used for attack (and protection of the attack team), well, that is just asking for it! The obvious result of the hose breaking and losing your water is one thing, and as mentioned above, the hammer on the pump is really bad. If the engine was parked behind the trailer, there would have been no hose in the way to get run over. It is possible the second engine driver didn't mean to run the hose over which is an honest mistake and life will go on, but if he purposly ran it over, he needs to think about what he is doing first.


        • #5
          What does common sense tell you ?

          Obviously somebody lacked common sense.


          • #6
            Well as far as pulling past the fire instead of behind it I would say that it depends on the wind direction, terrain...UP wind, UP hill, UP stream. It is also a matter of departmental tactics and SOP's.
            However, I am reluctant to drive over NON-charged hoseline, and defineatly would not drive over a charged line especially one that is in operation.


            • #7
              I was trained never to drive over handlines unless it was a life or death situation. While I hate to be a Monday morning quarterback - in this case I think it was very bad judgement because no lives were in danger.

              One time I saw hose couplings get stuck between the dual wheels of the rear axle. The hose started to wrap around the wheels of the engine and the handline got yanked from the unsuspecting firefighter's grip. Thank the Good Lord no one was injured.

              If I understand this scenario right the 2nd due engine was told to proceed with caution ..... doesn't sound like it did to me.


              • #8
                The SOP of my volunteer Fire Department clearly states that apparatus will not drive over handlines unless; a) ordered to do so - at which time a notification must be made to the hose crew, or b) it is a matter of life or death.

                This SOP came about AFTER two of our firefighters sustained injuries (back injury on one, and dental and facial on the other) when a ladder truck drove over the handlines that had been deployed at a trucking company terminal fire 3 or 4 years ago.

                The SOP includes driving over supply lines stretched to or between engines. It came about AFTER an incident. I arrived late and didn't see it, but one of our engines laid dual 3 inch from a hyrdrant and the ladder drove over them. A coupling got stuck between the duals and wrapped around the tires which seriously delayed getting ladders up and water flowing.

                Last fall the next town over had a similar incident at a gas station fire. One of their engines drove over 5 inch and the coupling got stuck between the duals.

                Driving an engine over handlines and supply lines is bad and equals trouble. SOPs need to be established BEFORE someone gets hurt.


                • #9
                  This is a topic near and dear to my heart because I had the unfortunate and unforgettable experience of seeing a firefighter needlessly injured because a hose line burst as an engine drove over it.

                  One second he was carrying a pike pole walking towards the structure with his partner adjusting his SCBA straps, and the next second he was lying on his back with a back and head injury.

                  There are already plenty of dangers at fire scenes waiting for us and we can certainly can do without creating more.

                  Drive over hand lines? No!


                  • #10
                    I don't know why, but I get the funny feeling that there's more to this incident than just driver error.

                    What did the crew of the 2nd due engine do next? Did they pull an attack line off their engine too, or did they supply the 1st due with water, manpower and tools?

                    I'm asking because a description of the next steps they took will speak volumes about situations in that department.

                    Maybe they just need training and SOPs but sometimes "there's more than meets the eye" going on in some volunteer fire departments where "behind the scenes" issues and unresolved matters cause bad blood and a lack of respect between companies.

                    If left to boil and fester all firefighting is badly affected by unresolved issues.

                    Maybe there's just an old fashioned rivalry between two firehouses going on here.

                    None of these are any good!


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