I recently returned from the Ultra High Pressure Training Summit, held in Middleton Wisconsin by the Middleton Fire Protection District in conjunction with the ATF. The conference was set up to teach, demonstrate and present the techniques and tactics utilized by Middleton Fire and the research done by the ATF on Ultra High Pressure.
Middleton Fire utilizes UHP (Ultra High Pressure) in a rapid response model. Just like any other department they have traditional Engine, Ladders, Tankers and the like. They discovered UHP when looking for a solution to the problem of command vehicles (pick up trucks) arriving with 1 person and having no suppressions capability. Middleton usually only has 1 person on duty at Station 1 at a time so the command vehicle was first out, then the traditional engine would respond with volunteers from either work or home depending on the time of day. They found UHP and began to see how effective it was with 1 person staffing so they adopted it as there response model.
They then spec’ed and took delivery of the M-TAC 1 (Middleton Tactical 1) a fully UHP attack pumper that is the first out unit from station 1, backed up by UHP command vehicles from 2 other stations and traditional engine company response. The entire model is built around speed. Rapid Response vehicles are faster to the scene than fire apparatus, the UHP line is placed in service faster since it is on a reel and no pump calculations need to be performed, can be deployed and operated by 1 person, and knocks fires down fast using 1/5 the water of an 1 3/4 hose line.
Ultra High pressure is a system that utilizes 1100 PSI or greater and flows 20-30 GPM depending on the nozzle size type. It is a reel line that is 1/2 to 3/4 in hydraulic hose. You can also have a turret function like on the M-TAC 1. UHP basically works but making the water more efficient. Most traditional fire service nozzles throw large water droplets, the UHP system uses small droplets to absorb heat more efficiently. Through research it has been discovered that only the outer shell of a water droplet absorbs heat energy, the rest just falls as hot water. These smaller droplets at the higher pressure absorb more heat energy and cover a large surface area allowing for rapid knock down.
The Training Summit
While attending the summit I was able to view presentations on Middleton Fire’s response model, the science behind UHP, and participate in hands on evolutions flowing the UHP lines, observing car fire burns, observing acquired structure burns from interior and exterior, and participating on the attack team for an acquired structure room burn.
(picture of the acquired structure)
The burns were very well done and well run, and the hospitality of Chief Aaron Harris and his staff was some of the best I have ever experienced in my fire service career. They had a problem, they found a solution that works for them, and then decided to share it knowing people out there are going to nay say it and hate on it. In fact they invited people to their home to see it in action!
I admit I bought into the science but was skeptical about the application of the tactic and the response model. They where advocating for a different way of doing transitional attack, and interior nozzle movement, and I was concerned that this would have adverse effects on flow paths, and possible push heat and smoke into uninvolved areas. I was also concerned with steam production with water striking super heated objects.
I was super impressed with the knockdown power from both interior and exterior applications. The flow path and steam problems just didn’t happen. I observed 4 burns from the interior, 2 from the exterior, and then was on the nozzle for the attack team. I never once was steam burned, and never once saw a significant flow path change that wouldn’t occur in any other traditional attack model.
This is an example of one of the burns utilizing exterior attack. This fire was fully flashed over, 1800 degrees at floor level, and was put out with aprox 10-15 gallons of water.
I know some of you ULTRA traditionalists out there (see what I did there) are having chest pain at this point, as this is a completely different method of response, deployment, and fire attack than most have ever experienced. It goes against a lot of what most people hold near and dear GPM’s put out BTU’s and all of that. It even goes against some of my preferences (I am a smooth bore guy). However it is hard to argue with evidence, you or I or anyone else may not like UHP (I for the record do like it and see its application for rural water use, and large events/weather events) but you can not argue with the fact that it is effective, rapid, and efficient.
Miyamoto Musashi said “It is difficult to understand the universe if you only study one planet”
UHP is just that, another planet in the fire service universe. It needs to be explored even more so than it already has to push the limits of its possibilities. I hope Middleton continues to expose people to it, by reaching out to even more people. I think they should put in for a hands on class at FDIC, and all of those other research agencies UL, NIST, ISFSI etc. should partner up with them to continue the research.
If you are interested in learning more go to http://www.mifd.net/mifd/Welcome.html they have several videos demonstrating the research. They also have contact info for all the Admin and staff.
A huge shout out to ATF Special Agent/CFI Bill Fulton (former volunteer in Hanover County Virginia, and former Asst. Fire Marshal and Lieutenant for Henrico Fire) for playing a huge role in my being allowed to attend the conference. Also to Chief Aaron Harris, Jessie, Eric, Bill and every other Middleton Firefighter who shared their brotherhood, passion, and friendship with me. It was truly one of the best experiences in terms of brotherhood I have ever had!
1 hour a day in the gym, 1 hour a day in the library, and 1 hour a day hands on training
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!