Discussion about mobile attack

Mobile attack fire
Mobile attack on a fire near the Modesto Airport in California. KCRA.

KCRA has good video footage of engines using mobile attack tactics, or pump and roll, on a grass fire near the Modesto, California airport. It appears to have been conducted safely and effectively, but this is a good opportunity to initiate a discussion.

In the video below the best footage begins at 3:48.

When I was an engine captain we conducted mobile attacks on grass fires similar to what is seen in the video. If we were the only engine at that location, we operated two nozzles. The one in front was on a short section of 1.5″ hose, and behind the truck a second crewman used a hard line to pick up anything that was still burning. When possible, like seen in the video, the engine was in the black, reducing the chance of a flareup endangering the crew or truck. If there was a second engine we might have just used the front 1.5″ hose and like in the video, count on the second engine to be sure the edge is all cold.

It is important to have a second nozzle, because it is common, unless you progress very slowly, for the fire to creep through the wet line after the first nozzle, and then you can have significant fire behind the engine crew, and you’ve lost what you just gained. It is also important to use a 1.5″ hose in front of the truck. You need the safety factor of that knockdown power and volume of water when you’re suppressing a fire close to the engine. Too often a hard line with 3/4″ inside diameter is woefully insufficient.

What are your thoughts?

Kansas Fire Chief says nozzlemen have to ride on their trucks

Above: A Kansas firefighter makes a mobile attack on a grass fire from the truck. Screen grab from the KAKE video below.

Brad Ewy, Chief of the Cheney Fire Department in Kansas says their firefighters have to ride on their trucks while doing a mobile attack on a grass fire.

You take a fire when the wind’s blowing 30 miles an hour that fire’s going to be going 30 miles per hour and there’s no way we could keep up with it. We have to be on our trucks.

They (NFPA) don’t deal with grass fires like we had. The one we had in Medicine Lodge, the fire’s running 50 miles per hour. There’s absolutely no way.

There may or may not be a way to operate a nozzle safely while riding on a fire engine, but I would like to see the actual data or a BehavePlus calculation that predicts a 30 mph hour wind will cause a fire to spread at 30 mph, or a 50 mph wind will produce a 50 mph rate of spread.

Notice in the video that the crew does not take the time to cut the fence. They simply drive through it, even with the firefighter standing on the front of the truck.