Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders

Efficient Water Delivery

05/18/2017

Richard Marinucci Richard Marinucci

Water remains the choice for extinguishing structure fires.

Even though advancements and technology offer other options, such as foam and other special extinguishing agents, fire departments operate with the assumption that the appropriate amount of water will extinguish most, if not all, fires.

The basic objective is to overcome the British thermal units (Btus) being generated and ensure that the fuel is cooled enough to cease generating flammable gases. It goes back to the basic fire triangle: fuel, heat, and oxygen. Although the tetrahedron was added for the chemical chain reaction, this discussion is intended to look at simplicity.

The Value of Water

Instinctively and possibly through study and experience, firefighters have always known the value of water. Studies from Underwriters Laboratories and the National Institute of Standards and Technology confirm that the faster firefighters apply water, the better the outcome. Firefighters are taught early in recruit school that using water fire extinguishers works best when water is applied to the base of the fire. This applies as the fire grows. The amount of water must be of a volume to cool the burning material quickly enough. If the volume isn’t adequate, the fire will not go out. Hence, the source of water and the delivery capabilities of hoses and nozzles affect the outcome. By source, we mean the availability of water. If volume is limited because of pipe (main) size, system pressure, pump capacity, or tanker operations, then options are limited.

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