Draining and rolling fire hose: the one task that no firefighter looks forward to, whether it's following a working job or a training exercise.
The degree of trepidation has only increased with the introduction of large-diameter hose and the associated weight gain for a roll of hose — not just from the hose's increased internal diameter, but also the 100-foot lengths as opposed to heretofore 50-foot lengths for supply line and attack hose.
Many firefighters and officers have probably never stopped to think just how much of their time is committed to the combined tasks of draining, rolling and repacking fire hose.
Engage in fire combat operations at a structure fire? Drain, roll and repack fire hose. Participate in training exercise with your neighboring volunteer company? Ditto. Conduct annual pressure test of fire hose? Ditto times two or more.
After the action
One of the downsides of all this hose-handling activity is that it is all after-action; the fire's been extinguished or the training or hose test is completed and everyone just wants to go home.
Let's finish painting the picture: in addition to a lack of mental focus, our firefighters are tired, cold or hot, and may be operating in poorly lighted areas. Is it any wonder that about 25 percent of firefighter injuries annually happen during training or other non-emergency activity, such as draining, rolling and carrying fire hose?
Fortunately, those inventive minds of the fire service have come to the rescue, once again, with hose management tools that can save departments time and money.
Save money? Yes, save money.
How much do you think those Workers' Compensation cases cost? How many scarce dollars could your department save by preventing just one significant back injury that sidelines a firefighter for a couple of months?
More than likely, the cost is several tens of thousands of dollars when you add up the cost of medical care and overtime to cover that position.
Simple is good right? Well, you can't get much simpler than the Okie Roller, which its manufacturer touts it as, "The original hand-held fire hose rolling device." The Okie Roller looks like a walking tape measure on steroids.
One firefighter can roll a 50-foot length of hose — between 1.5 to 3 inches — walking upright, thus avoiding bending over while they do the "hunchback waddle" that can lead to back injuries. The Okie Roller can be disassembled and stored in a compartment on the fire apparatus.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $530, which includes shipping and handling.
The RollNRack with its hose draining attachment enables one firefighter to drain and roll a section of hose and deliver it for repacking without having to lift more than the coupling.
The unit is adjustable and can be used for all hose, including LDH up to 6 inches. Two firefighters can repack the rolled hose directly from the RollNRack; one firefighter operates on the hose bed while the second feeds the hose that spools off the unit. Its suggested retail price is $2,075 with $165 for shipping and handling.
RollNRack's Power Roller enables one firefighter to drain and roll a 100-foot section in less than 30 seconds. In addition to the features of the RollNRack, the Power Roller has a broom that cleans the bottom of the hose as it's being drained and rolled.
The unit uses an electric motor supplied by a 24-volt rechargeable battery pack. Depending on weather conditions, terrain, water in the line and battery charge level, 4,000 feet of LDH can be drained and rolled on one charge. Its suggested retail price is $5,400 plus $280 for shipping and handling.
Rollnrack's Fastback manual hose roller enables one firefighter to roll a 50-foot section of hose — up to 1.75 inches in diameter — or 100 feet of forestry hose without the firefighter hunching over walk. The Fastback enables the firefighter to take a drained section of fire hose, attach it to the unit, and then use the attached hand crank to wind the hose into the unit.
Once completed, the firefighter unlocks the hose from the unit, lifts up the Fastback, and the rolled hose remains on the ground. The suggested retail price is $949 with $65 for shipping and handling.
The Rookie Sidekick All-in-One is another powered fire hose-management system that uses either a 3-horsepower engine or a 1-horsepower electric motor to do its work. It accommodates hose sizes up to 6 inches in diameter.
The Rookie Sidekick — a stationary device that has wheels which enable it to be moved around the fireground or training grounds — draws the hose to the unit, draining the water in the process, and rolls it up. It can drain and roll a 100-foot section of LDH in less than a minute.
Firefighters then can remove the rolled hose from the spooler and place it in the Rookie Reloader where it can be unspooled for reloading on the apparatus. The Rookie Reloader can be placed on the ground or the Rookie Sidekick can be removed from its stand and the interchangeable stand can be used with the Rookie Reloader.
The Rookie Sidekick can be used on its metal stand, attached to a hitch assembly on a vehicle or attached to an ATV. Its suggested retail price is $5,692 with $320 for shipping and handling.
About the author
Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an active instructor for fire, EMS, and hazardous materials courses at the local, state, and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master of science degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program. Since his retirement in 2007, he has continued to be a life-long learner working in both the private and public sectors to further develop his "management sciences mechanic" credentials. He makes his home near Charleston, W.Va. Contact Robert at Robert.Avsec@FireRescue1.com
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