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Sanibel Fire & Rescue District conducts drill refining water pumping skills

By Staff | Apr 12, 2011

A rainbow effect is created by the spray during last week's pump drill at Sanibel Fire Station #1.

Members of the Sanibel Fire Rescue District routinely review and refine their firefighting skills throughout the year by engaging in emergency drills and the latest techniques that will help them do their job in the most safe and efficient manner when the time comes to perform those tasks in real-life situations.

Last week, members of the district underwent a refresher course on basic pump operations under the guidance of Tice Fire District Chief Paul DeArmond, considered by many members of the local staff as “the best of the best” in training.

“Paul taught all of us,” said Tim Barrett, training officer for the SFRD. “I’ve known him for more than 20 years, so it’s great to have him here to conduct these drills.”

According to Barrett, all three shifts stationed at the Palm Ridge Road firehouse took part in the review, which touched upon methods including fundamentals for pump operation, maintenance, safety checklists and calculating fire stream requirements, with an emphasis on the basics.

“Hydraulics is an exact science,” he added. “You don’t want your water stream barely coming out… but then again, you don’t want it to be kicking your butt either.”

Testing the power and the pressure of the district's water system on their trucks and their hoses, firefighters aim a stream above the tree tops behind Fire Station #1 last week.

Depending upon the diameter and the length of the hose firefighters may be using, in order to acquire the desire 100 psi stream at the end of the line, your gauge would typically run around 124-130 psi (for a 150-foot hose) or 147-150 psi (for a 200-foot hose).

“You’ve got to get consistent pressure, especially if you’re going up a building two or three stories high. There are a lot of complex formulas you have to adjust,” said Barrett. “It’s kind of easy when you’re only running one line, but when you’re running two or three lines, it can get a little tricky.”

During Thursday’s training session, SFRD’s “C” Shift — which includes Capt. Tom Tracy, Lt. Chris Jackson and firefighters Brian Howell, John DeMaria, Mike Martin and Brian Hornberger — tested methods of pumping up to three hoses simultaneously. At top capacity, their equipment can emit up to 1,200 gallons per minute, enough water to fill an average-sized pool in less than 10 minutes.

“Anything I can do to help these guys get better at what they do is a good opportunity for me, too,” DeArmond said following the drill. “I’m not teaching them anything they don’t already know. Reinforcing the basics of the job is our bread and butter, so going over these things every once in awhile is always good.”

Lt. Chris Jackson, left, and firefighter Brian Howell.

Paul DeArmond, right, chief of the Tice Fire District, instructs members of the Sanibel Fire Rescue District on basic pump operations.

During Thursday's drill, firefighter John DeMaria, right, observes the water pressure test.