Trending Topics

Secure in the bucket: Master stream slams firefighters

Video of powerful master stream striking firefighters in aerial bucket underscores importance of safety belt

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 3.14.16 PM.png

Video shows a master stream striking firefighters operating in an aerial bucket.


Many fire departments have aerial devices, some of which may be a platform type with a bucket on the end. This type of aerial device is useful for performing rescues, as it can accommodate three people inside of the bucket, making it easier to get into from a window. The platform is also useful for elevated master streams, as it can be equipped with multiple nozzles and outlets for smaller handlines to apply water.

Master stream strikes firefighters

The corresponding video – Firefighters Struck by Master Stream While Operating from the Bucket (Yonkers, NY) 3/12/19 – shows a platform type of aerial device containing three firefighters who are applying water. What makes this video interesting is when the other master stream is directed toward the platform bucket, hitting the other firefighters.

What catches the most attention is the hard-hitting water pelting the firefighter inside the bucket. Being hit by a master stream spewing water at 500 gpm or more at about 100 psi is no laughing matter and can cause serious harm to the individual. Besides becoming water-soaked, the firefighter will certainly feel the pain afterwards.

But what about the potential for the firefighter to be ejected or thrown out of the bucket because of the misdirected master stream? This is certainly a possibility, especially when we are dealing with hydraulic lift systems for the platform as well as speed and power of the stream hitting a firefighter. Watch the video closely and you will see one of the firefighters being pushed toward the side of the platform. You can see him trying to resist the force of the water hitting him.

With the hydraulics of the platform, there is also the danger of being ejected. The weight of water and the velocity of it coming into contact with the aerial device is enough to cause a counterbalance or unwanted stresses on the hydraulic pistons. The hydraulic pistons are pushing the device up, and an opposite force coming down on it stresses the pistons.

Any sudden movement of the aerial device can cause a jerking action, which could eject occupants from the bucket. This is why it is important to be secured inside the bucket of the platform with a type of safety belt equipped with a large carabiner. That way, if a firefighter is ejected from the bucket, they would be momentarily suspended in the air because they are anchored to the bucket, as opposed to falling, in this case, about a hundred feet down.

Use a safety belt in the bucket

Bottom line: If you operate a platform type of aerial device and are in the bucket for any reason, be sure to be secured inside the bucket! After all, you never know what hazards you might face, even from your own department’s master stream.

Mark van der Feyst has been in the fire service since 1998, currently serving as a firefighter with the Fort Gratiot Fire Department in Michigan. He is an international instructor teaching in Canada, the United States and India. He graduated from Seneca College of Applied and Technologies as a fire protection engineering technologist, and received his bachelor’s degree in fire and life safety studies from the Justice Institute of British Columbia and his master’s degree in safety, security and emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University. van der Feyst is the lead author of the book “Residential Fire Rescue” and “The Tactical Firefighter.” Connect with van der Feyst via email.