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10-Hour Water Supply Operation - Township of Hillsborough, New Jersey
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By President Mark Davis and Captain Mike Guzy (Photos by Flagtown FD)
November 1, 2018

On October 23rd, the folks in the Township of Hillsborough, New Jersey were faced with a very large, burning debris pile of landscaping materials that had been smoldering for several days. The local FDs were called into action to extinguish the fire. There were no nearby fire hydrants, so a tanker shuttle operation was set up to provide water for fire suppression efforts. Captain Michael Guzy of the Flagtown FD (one of our site Members) served as the Water Supply Officer during the 10+ hour operation. After seeing photos of the operation and hearing about all the "best practices" put to use, we asked Captain Guzy to provide a summary of the operations. The following is his report.

The operation was conducted beginning at 0900 on a Tuesday morning. We had notable staffing shortages and conducted most of this with about 10 guys - not including tanker drivers.

We planned for a 1,000 GPM flow rate to be split between two ladder pipes. In order to accomplish that flow rate, I felt that we would need a minimum of 6 tankers and at least one "strong" fill site. The local fire coordinator was able to "order" 6 tankers for us immediately and worked to secure additional ones. Our tankers in this region are typically 3,000-gallon on average with a few 4,000-gallon capacity ones. All tankers in the shuttle were 3,000-gallon or larger, except one 1,750-gallon pumper/tanker.

We laid 550 feet of 5" LDH from the street to the top of the driveway and split the line at an LDH manifold into two equal length legs of 3" (150' each). These lines supplied the pumps of two ladder trucks. We ran the 3" into the main pump intakes to reduce inefficiency.

A double clapper LDH Siamese was set up and we began nursing through that (leapfrog fashion) while we set up dump tanks to prepare for the transition to drafting.

The dump site was built in stages. two 3,000-gallon dump tanks were used. We pulled some 6" suction hose, strainers, and jet siphons from the first few tankers. The plan was to build the dump site to initially maintain the 500 GPM flow then complete the buildout to increase to 1,000 GPM. As a point of reference, we refer to the first dump tank that tankers come to as Tank 1 and the next one as Tank 2.

The engine from Flagtown was placed as the source pumper; it has a 2,250 GPM Hale Qmax pump and we designed it for stuff like this. We set up 27 feet of 6" suction hose with a TFT low level strainer to the officer's side MIV. The Trident Automatic Air Primer was used to prime and in short order we were up and running. As the engine was priming and preparing to pump the siamese, we still had a tanker hooked in feeding the siamese to prevent loss of water and a seamless changeover to the draft from the nurse tanker operation.

One jet siphon using a TFT low level strainer was used initially. This allowed us to get water from Tank 2 into Tank 1. Once we had things flowing smooth, we added a second jet siphon. The jet siphons were powered by the same pumper. This wasn't ideal, however we had no additional engine to use. In order to address the extra volume needed, we added a second suction tube off the front intake. This was primed using the Trident Automatic Air Primer - with a separate priming valve for the front suction pipe. Once we had both suctions primed and flowing, we increased flow to 1,240 GPM plus 270 GPM to power jet siphons. We noted a vacuum reading of 5".

Jet siphons were supplied through 50ft of 2 1/2" hose to a gated wye with two equal legs of 1 3/4" hose (different colors). An attendant was assigned to control the siphons for the duration of the operation.

We had an attendant at the dump site who would issue direction to incoming tankers to pull past and back in or side dump. There were two guys who shared this duty. Neither had ever done such work, but after a little time they got into a great groove. With the tank setup, we would always try to get one rig backed in so that the side was open for another one to pull up and side dump. This worked very well.

I was the WSO for the duration. I monitored the levels in the tanks and would periodically radio to command to shut one ladder pipe down if we did not have any water in Tank 2. Once we recovered we would issue the order to resume flowing both. We had to do this a few times but the majority of the 10-hour long operation we were able to maintain a 1,000 GPM average flow.

There was one fill site initially. It was minimally staffed due to daytime availability. The site was at a local church parking lot and used a pressurized fire hydrant. The hydrant was not a high performance hydrant, which resulted in the need for a second fill site later. They filled using a backwards LDH manifold to allow the draining of the fill line once the tanker was full.

Fill Site 2 was scouted out about midway through the day. We identified a 12" main using our "iamresponding" map data . With the lack of available engines, we had a captain from a mutual aid company gather some hose and a manifold and man this site by himself for several hours. This site reported excellent fill rates.

Fill Site 2 was the first site the tankers came to. The attendant would either accept the tankers if he wasn't backed up or send them forward to Fill Site 1. This worked very well.

We were successful in our mission. It took about 10 hours and the use of two track hoes to tear the materials apart.

16 tankers from 4 counties assisted throughout the day. We kept records, although without good forms it took some deciphering. Overall we calculated 781,400 Gallons were shuttled during the operation.

Excellent work by everyone involved in this water supply operation.


Comment Comment 1 Comment(s)

Jeff Stout November 06, 2018 at 2:41 AM
Thank you for the thorough, detailed write-up of this incident. It is extremely helpful to see how different areas make it work.

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