Water is key to any firefighting operation. Being able to secure an adequate water supply is critical a critical skill for all fire departments. One of the most challenging scenarios to secure a water supply in is when there is no municipal water supply, or it is lacking in volume and flow.

When fires occur in these areas, the only alternative is to shuttle water from the nearest municipal supply or a static body of water. To get the highest flow possible, departments must train on shuttle setup and equipment to analyze where improvements can be made.Water supplies should be evaluated based on the largest fire hazard in the area using the source

A smoothly operating high-flow water shuttle takes pre-planning and training. A goal of training is to find the bottlenecks (constraints) in the system limiting flow. The theory of constraints is an approach to process optimization use to identify bottlenecks, then eliminate the bottleneck or adjust the process to meet the speed of the bottleneck.

The only way to improve the process output, in this case fireground flow rate, is by improving bottlenecks. Improving non-bottlenecks does not improve the process output. Training provides the opportunity to identify and correct bottlenecks. The following examines some common constraints of a water shuttle.

Identifying A Water Source

The time to identify a water source for a fill site is not when the alarm bell goes off. Water supplies identified for fill sites must be able to provide the target fill rate of 1000 gpm. Natural bodies of water must be evaluated during different times of the year This is based on the restrictions placed on ploy tanks of 100psig inlet pressure and 1000gpm inlet flow. It is possible to fill none poly tanks at faster rate if designed for it, but there are less chance for mistakes if the fill rate is standardized at 1000gpm.

Along with flow, adequate volume must be available at the fill site. Water supplies should be evaluated based on the largest fire hazard in the area using the source.

Another way to evaluate the minimum volume is the ISO standard. A shuttle must be able to maintain a flow of 250gpm for two hours. This requires a water source to have a minimum volume of 30,000 gallons. Natural bodies of water must be evaluated during different times of the year to make sure the minimum volume remains adequate.

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Ed Collet Firefighting Consultant, CET Fire Pumps

Ed Collet has been in the fire service for 16 years and is a fire fighter/EMTA in Stark County Ohio. He is the lead instructor for Bowling Green State Fire School Basic to Advance Pump operation class. Ed is a co-chair of the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association Water Supply Technical Advisory Committee which helps to develop and spread best practices for rural water supply throughout the state. Ed holds a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Akron and a Masters in Engineering Management from Ohio University.

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