The Monster Handline
The 2-1/2″ handline has always be known for its high flows. In fact there are many different flows that are being successfully used by fire departments nationwide with this big line. With that being said, what I am about to tell you in this article is going to amaze you. The focus is going to be on a new nozzle concept called the Big Paulie which has a maximum flow of 500 GPM and is used on a. 2-1/2″ handline.
No it’s not a large caliper stream being delivered from a master stream appliance. It’s a nontraditional handline nozzle used for a heavy attack from a stationary position. A 500 GPM stream is a substantial amount of water very capable of getting the big hit on a large fire just as you would expect from a standard 2-1/2″ handline flow. The reason 500 GPM was chosen is two-fold. The 500 GPM handline evolution is at maximum flow in regards to what firefighters can handle. Flow tests have proven that two firefighters can safely and efficiently deploy a 500 GPM handline using the techniques that will be presented in this article. Flows higher than this are more difficult to handle and not recommended as handline operations.
Also, 500 GPM is the maximum allowed flow from the engine company tank to pump plumbing according to minimum requirements of NFPA apparatus specifications. A very large majority of apparatus fall under this spec. A larger flow can be designed into the plumbing, but it has to be specified at construction.
Can and should a 500 GPM attack be initiated from tank water? Under the right conditions, you bet! When we start working from a booster tank we automatically go into the conserving water mode. Too often we conserve too much water to a point where the water is ineffective. Example, with a 500-gallon booster tank, let’s say we are going to deploy two 1-3/4” handlines flowing 125 GPM each to for exposure protection instead of attacking the fire which is a mobile home. We are doing this because the water supply has not been established yet. This is done until a water supply is established or we run out of water. Firefighters usually keep the nozzles wide open for exposure protection, which uses the limited water supply fast. The end result of this is that exposure protection may be successful, but only until they run out of water.
I have a theory. If given a choice on whether to protect exposures or initiate a fire attack from booster tank water, I evaluate the fire volume. If an immediate knockdown is possible using no more than half a tank at a 500 GPM flow rate (based on a worst-case scenario 500-gallon booster tank) I will go for the attack, immediately eliminating the fire that is creating the exposure threat. It’s a done deal. When considering a fire attack from a booster tank, don’t think of the 500 GPM flow as moving 500 gallons of water. Instead think of it as gallons per second (GPS). A 500 GPM stream flows 8.3 GPS. There is a real good chance that the fire can be knocked down in 10-20 seconds. How much water have we used from our 500-gallon booster tank? Do the math. A 20 second 500 GPM blast will move a total of 166 gallons of water.
Again based on a 500-gallon booster tank capacity as worst-case scenario, an attack should be no more than 30 seconds. If the fire is not starting to lay down for you, shut down and regroup until a water supply can be established.
Sixteen second knockdown using the Big Paulie
The Big Paulie handline consists of four parts assembled together to make up the nozzle. They are:
*The nozzle valve made by Task Force Tips. It has a 2″ waterway specifically designed for large flows.
*A long 2-1/2″ stream shaper made by Task Force Tips designed to reduce the turbulence going into the smooth bore tip as well as to provide leverage for the firefighter directing the stream.
*The stream directing handle which is placed between the stream shaper and the smooth bore tip. This handle makes it easier for the firefighter to direct the stream as well as moving the while not flowing.
*The nozzle itself which is a 1-3/8″ or 1-1/2″ smooth bore tip 9″ in length capable of a flow of 500 GPM at 80 or 55 psi nozzle pressure respectively.
NOZZLE HANDLING TECHNIQUES
The nozzle handling technique for the Big Paulie high flow handline is simple and is a modified version of a technique that has been used for decades. Just have a seat. That’s right, it’s nothing more than sitting on a 2-1/2″ line with the loop with two modifications. First, the loop is not needed. Numerous flow tests have proven that the loop really doesn’t provide that much more stability. However if you choose to make a loop that is entirely acceptable. Second, a minimum of two firefighters are required to sit on the line because of the nozzle reaction. The firefighter at the nozzle sits directly on the hose about 2-1/2 to 3 feet from the nozzle. The entire handline stays on the ground except for the last three feet that the firefighter is handling. The hose on the ground is important with this concept because the ground actually absorbs most of the nozzle reaction. Again, I have found that looping the hose at this point makes little difference on how well the nozzle reaction is absorbed. Furthermore, in a quick attack/minimum manpower situation setting the loop up takes time away from the initial quick hit especially if the line is already charged. . The second, or backup, firefighter sits directly on the hose behind the firefighter on the nozzle. It is extremely important that both firefighters keep all their weight on the hose while flowing water to keep the nozzle reaction at a minimum. It is also equally important for the firefighter at the nozzle to keep one hand on the bale of the nozzle at all times in case it needs to be gated down to be manageable or shut down completely.
The back-up person on a Big Paulie high flow handline sits on the hose to help support the nozzle man.
If you decide that the 500 GPM flow from a 1-3/8″ which has a nozzle pressure of 80 psi and a nozzle reaction of 237 lbs. is too much, a 1-1/2″ tip at 55 psi nozzle pressure with a nozzle reaction of 194 lbs. will also flow 500 GPM with a lot less effort. The trade off will be less reach but definitely enough to hit most targets.
There is also an entire range of 2-1/2″ flows that can be used with the Big Paulie nozzle that are under 500 GPM that can be extremely effective. The following list shows some tips with their corresponding nozzle pressures and flows from 210 GPM up to 500 GPM.
1”tip 210 GPM 50 psi NP
1-1/8”tip 265GPM 50 psi NP
1-1/4” tip 325 GPM 50 psi NP
1″ tip 300 GPM 100 psi NP
300 GPM 100 psi NP
325 GPM 120 psi NP
1-1/8″ tip 300 GPM 64 psi NP
325 GPM 75 psi NP
350 GPM 87 psi NP
1-1/4″ tip 350 GPM 57 psi NP
400 GPM 80 psi NP
1-3/8″ tip 400 GPM 50 psi NP
500 GPM 80 psi NP
1-1/2” tip 500 GPM 55 psi NP
500 GPM with a 1-3/8″ tip at 80 psi nozzle pressure
This article has been based on being progressive, keeping an open mind and continuous evaluation of equipment and techniques. Most of what you have read will not be found in the standard fire stream books in circulation today. Does that mean that this is not an acceptable way to deliver high flows through the 2-1/2″ handline? In my opinion, it does not. At no time do any of the above mentioned flows, nozzle combinations, nozzle pressures and techniques go against what the manufacturers say their equipment can do. If you like what you have read, don’t implement it tomorrow, practice, practice, practice. Feeling comfortable and confident is the key to success.