Water and Fire, Oh MY!

Do you have a plan for this?

Do you have a plan for this?


Let me clear something up. I know this fire is a write off no matter what.

The intention here is to explore what we would do if this fire was one that victims were present in and was only smoke showing.

I am curious about how to handle an event where we are faced with adversity: inaccessibility and conditions that deem a rescue possible.

I have to tell you that when I saw this picture many thoughts ran through my head.

With the recent events in regards to natural disasters, this picture got my attention.

This is a picture from Hurricane Ike.  I know this building is pretty well involved and as you can see, the street is flooded.

But, what if this was your area and you had this situation with confirmed victims? Now, let’s pretend for the sake of discussion you are the first arriving unit.

For those that deal with this, how do you pre-plan this kind of event and what would you do?

I have to admit, this situation is very remote in my area, but possible and we have never discussed a scenario like this.  So, I’m flying by the seat of pants on this one as well.

Let’s hear what you all have to say.

(Thanks for all of the support and great replies so far, it is very humbling and appreciated.)   Now back to business, how do we handle this situation?


  • James Rosse says:

    Assuming I can get the rig to the scene, and the engine’s not in danger of flooding, then it’s simple. Air intake’s on the top of the engine, and the exhaust should be higher than the water level.

    Drop the hard suction with the floating basket strainer right off the truck, and keep an eye on it. I doubt you’ll suck up that much water, to drop the level much, but you never know. You should be able to support a deck gun with that much water, since it’s over the top of that truck’s tires

    In may areas of the US, there are not hydrants. We live and die by tanker shuttles. This is routine business for us, it’s just novel that it comes to us, rather than the other way round.

    Lt James Rosse
    South Schodack Volunteer Fire Department

  • dc802 says:

    That was where I was going with this; not so much the water supply issue but the access. We have had trucks go down in lesser water because it got to the level of the cooling fan and the resistance of the water broke the fan, thus not cooling the radiator.

    So, what if you can’t get good access?

  • James Rosse says:

    Then it burns. It’s already a loss, you back up to where you can operate, and protect those exposures.

    Do you risk men and women’s lives for people who are already dead? No. In this case, they may be trapped, and there’s nothing you can do for them.

    Unfortunate, but true.

    Lt James Rosse
    South Schodack Fire

  • Steve Marshall says:

    One thing to worry about is, what happens AFTER this fire? If you risk a couple of rigs close in and in deep water, if they go down, then you have depleted your departments equipment roster during a disaster when they need all vehicles performing their jobs. I was on a open-cab ladder truck during Hurricane Agnes that lost its windshield wipers due to an electrical short from the heavy rain. We were the only ladder in our end of the county. WE HAD to stay in service that night. We were able to keep it running through “thinking out of the box” and innovating a make shift mechanizim to keep the wipers running through the night….and we responded on an addtional 24 calls before the repair guy was able to get to us. Sometimes, you have to also consider the big picture when thinking “risk vs benefit”.

  • I’ll have to agree with the first problem of geting the rigs to the scene. Assuming that’s probable, I’d start by keeping the rig in the center of the road (should be the shallowest part). As far as water supply, I’d be hesitant to draft, unless hydrants were inaccessible. You never know what’s in flood waters…I’d hate to have the pump crap out with members inside. If it was just smoke showing and victims inside, an interior attack and search would be warranted (keeping a good eye out for condition changes, as the next in will probably take some time to get there with said hazards). If conditions were as in the pic, maybe (a big maybe) limited VES of first floor rooms. I would however, place a good emphasis on early utility control.

  • MN Chief says:

    Grand Forks, ND ran into this exact situation during the Red River Flood of 1997. They lost a good portion of downtown Grand Forks to a fire. The solution was to put the engines on lowboys provided by the local Air Force base to keep them above the water level and use hard suction and flood water to fight the fire.


    This has become part of pre-plans throughout the Red River basin in case of flooding. Most of the Red River floods are broad, but not deep which makes this solution viable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *