Your driving the engine for your tour, you get dispatched for a structure fire. In flash you’re heading to the scene and you see a column of smoke over the horizon! Your officer gives you the hydrant location, and tells you “LAY IN”! You make the block, stop at the hydrant get out wrap it, back in and your driving up to the scene. You arrive and see a 2 story single family dwelling with smoke coming out of the 2nd floor windows. You pull the parking brake, you engage the pump, put the gear selector in drive, and hop out of the rig. By this time your officer has made his lap and is reporting heavy fire on side Charlie, and the fireman with you has gotten the line pulled and is ready for water. You pull the discharge valve and begin to throttle up…..nothing……you keep pressing the throttle button…..nothing. You did everything right, but your gauges are at zero and your crew needs water now! What happens in the next few seconds makes you a hero or a ZERO!
Has this ever happened to anyone? I’m sure it has, the reality of the situation is that fire trucks are manufactured and with them becoming more computerized sometimes things break, or malfunction. In times like these you need to have an understanding of how to place your apparatus pump into gear manually. Usually it is not that complicated, but NONE OF THEM ARE THE SAME!!!! Even the same make and model can be different. For example in my department we run all front line Pierce Quantum engines. Even our reserves are quantums. Some of the older ones in reserve status are in the 1995-96 range and the one I ride on today is a 2011. The manual pump procedure for the new vs old is VERY different. In fact some of the older ones it takes 2 people to perform the procedure. Then you throw in different manufactures and different years. The engine I learned to pump on when I was about 18 was a 1989 KME. In order to put that into manual pump you had to close valve A, open valve B, then pull the manual lever, finally placing the gear shift in drive, a far more complicated process.
The moral of this story is know the rig your riding, especially if you in a department like mine where everyone (except officers) share the driving responsibilities. Take some time this month to look over your pumper and go over your manual pump procedure. It is a simple drill, but could prove valuable in the right situation.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!!!!