Water Supply TAC

Water Supply Weekend: Getting the Wet Stuff to the Red Stuff in Ohio

Submitted By: W. Parker Browne and Jeremy A. Keller, OFCA WSTAC

While many fire departments take their water supply for granted with well-developed municipal water systems and hydrants on every corner, in many Ohio communities this is not the reality. In addition to mastering the basic skills of fire suppression, Ohio’s rural firefighters must also contend with developing alternative water supply systems. The Water Supply Technical Advisory Committee (WSTAC) of your Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association is dedicated to finding innovative solutions and best practices to support the water supply needs of Ohio’s rural fire service.

The weekend of April 10-12, 2015 was a busy one for the WSTAC, as the committee supported a full day of tanker/tender performance trials on Friday, then hosted two full days of water supply training on Saturday and Sunday. The testing and training were provided by GBW Associates, LLC, a consulting organization based in Maryland and well known for their online repository of alternative water supply information at their website (www.gotbigwater.com). The training was led by GBW instructors Mark Davis and Alan Butsch, both battalion chiefs with Montgomery County Fire-Rescue in Maryland and active members of volunteer fire departments.

Tanker/Tender Performance Comparison Tests

On Friday, April 10, 2015, the WSTAC and the Wayne County Water Supply Group hosted a day of comprehensive performance testing for different water tender (tanker) designs in Wooster. Items tested included: off-load rates and critical dump times; fill rates; 200-foot Insurance Services Office (ISO) loading tests; and gallons-per-minute (gpm) delivery rate tests for conventional (gravity) and vacuum water tender designs. Water tenders and a fill-site drafting engine were provided by fire departments from Wayne and Summit Counties. Six WSTAC members attended the performance tests, and detailed results will be posted when final calculations and analysis are complete.

Water Supply Officer Training

On Saturday and Sunday, April 11-12, the WSTAC, in cooperation with the Delaware Area Career Center (DACC), was pleased to host two full days of training in alternative water supply techniques at the DACC campus in Delaware.            

Saturday’s training was a full-day seminar on the duties of the Water Supply Officer in both the operational and pre-incident planning setting. Of critical interest to many communities was an extensive discussion of the ISO rating system and how well-planned alternative water supply systems can be used to lower insurance rates for properties in rural fire districts. Other topics included discussions of various potential sources of water supply and resources for pre-planning and developing water supply plans, water supply fireground operations, and municipal water supply systems for rural departments.

A hands-on component of this training involved techniques for accurately assessing the flow capacity of “weak” hydrants on rural water main systems. All too often, departments assume that all hydrants are created equal, and this session helped to provide a truer picture of what these systems can actually support.

LDH and Relay Pumping Training

Sunday’s training focused on the specific alternative water supply technique of the large diameter hose (LDH) relay. Often discussed, but rarely practiced, the LDH relay can provide an excellent, high-volume water supply under the right conditions. These operations cannot be successfully executed on-the-fly – they require extensive pre-planning and resource management in order to be successful.

The day’s training culminated with a hands-on exercise in the afternoon. During this exercise, a 3,550-foot lay of 5-inch LDH to an attack pumper was successfully supplied by an engine drafting from a dry hydrant. Four additional pumpers were sequentially added to the relay, with an LDH hose reel wagon providing additional support. At full capacity, the relay provided the attack engine with a flow in excess of 1000 gpm at 150 psi, all pumped through more than two-thirds of a mile of hose.

Between the two days of training at Delaware, a total of 101 students attended, along with 14 WSTAC members, representing 24 counties in Ohio and two counties in West Virginia. As a result of a t-shirt raffle, the National Fallen Firefighters’ Foundation (NFFF) “Walk of Honor” at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland will receive a commemorative brick paver in the name of the OFCA WSTAC. All proceeds of the raffle, along with a match by GBW Associates, were donated to the NFFF.

The WSTAC would like to extend a special thanks to following companies who provided financial and/or material support to the success of this weekend of alternative water supply activities:

  • Fir-O-Vac Tankers, of Apple Creek, Ohio
  • Fol-Da-Tank, of Milan, Illinois
  • Task Force Tips (TFT), of Valparaiso, Indiana
  • Trident Emergency Products, of Hatboro, Pennsylvania



 NOVFA 2015  Materials

Water Shuttle Operations 1
Water Shuttle Operations 2
Water Shuttle Operations 3
Water Shuttle Operations 4