COLUMN: Les Karpluk — Jan. 15, 2014

Les Karpluk
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On Jan. 10, 2014 the Daily Herald printed a story about the importance of keeping fire hydrants cleared of snow, because it would create delays for firefighters in securing a water supply. There is much more to the picture than just securing a water supply. 

If you have been following my column you know that I regularly refer to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.

In this column I want to provide you some benchmarks that we strive to meet by following the NFPA standards. When I list the associated times, remember this is what the NFPA has identified as the industry standard.

The NFPA 1710 (Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments) identifies that a turn-out time of 80 seconds is required with a performance objective of 90 percent. Basically this means that when we are notified of an emergency through our Emergency Communication Center, firefighters need to drop what they are doing, quickly make their way to their turnout gear, put on their gear, get on the truck and exit the fire station within 80 seconds. And, they have to do this 9 out of 10 times.

The NFPA 1710 standard also identifies that the fire department should have the first arriving pumper truck on scene in four minutes or less and should meet this standard not less than 90 percent of the time. Again, this means that we should arrive on scene in four minutes or less nine out of 10 times.

In order to ensure that firefighters can quickly secure a water supply and have attack lines charged with water and flowing, the NFPA 1410 (Standard on Training for Initial Emergency Scene Operations) identifies several evolutions and time standards for an Engine Company (a pumper truck with a group of firefighters) or a Truck Company (an aerial truck with a group of firefighters) to practice. And, we do.

One of the evolutions in NFPA 1410 is to secure a water supply from a fire hydrant, place one initial attack line into operation and place a backup attack line into operation and flow 1135 Liters/min (300 gpm) from both handlines. The handlines lines must be 150 feet in length and the water supply must be secured from a fire hydrant 300 feet from the fire truck. This evolution has a maximum time limit of 3 minutes.

In this column I purposely chose to ignore the alarm processing time (the time it takes to get the information from the individual calling 911) and the alarm transfer time (the time to transfer the information to the fire department).

The total time identified here is 8:20 seconds and it’s under ideal road conditions, a quick turnout time by firefighters, and no problems securing a water supply. Snow around a fire hydrant can pose significant time delays for firefighters and my goal here was to simply explain why it’s a good practice to help the fire department by keeping the hydrant by your home or business clear of snow.

Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time we had ideal conditions during the winter months and by keeping a fire hydrant clear of snow, you are helping us keep you safe.

One more thing to remember, that a fire can double in size every 60 seconds or faster under a high fuel load. A big thank-you to all of the citizens that are helping keep Prince Albert safe.



Les Karpluk is the chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department



Organizations: National Fire Protection Association, Daily Herald, Career Fire Departments Emergency Communication Center Engine Company Truck Company Prince Albert Prince Albert Fire Department

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