A big thanks to everyone in the community who came to the Fire Hall’s giant annual garage sale last month. We helped re-direct a lot of material from the landfill and gave it a good second home. Or third home. Or fourth home, depending on how often you make it to the sale and buy something that you swear you owned before…
Thanks to the generosity of our contributors throughout Lantzville and the hard work of firefighters who made the rounds picking up, among other things, beds, couches, and enormous TVs (buy three for $5 and we’ll throw in a fourth!), the Hall made more than $4,000. Much of that money will be returned to the community in the form of fire education materials, fireworks at Halloween and donations to various causes, like the $5,000 contributed to Seaview School’s Memorial Playground. Remaining funds will be used for equipment purchases and other improvements at the Hall.
If you read last month’s LFR column you’ll be familiar with the term Superior Shuttle Tanker Service. Fire underwriters recognize SSTS as an equivalency to hydrant protection – meaning that, with STSS accreditation, a Fire Hall is proven capable of moving water to a fire scene in the same volumes as it would otherwise be available through a nearby hydrant. Since sections of Lantzville have no hydrants, earning that accreditation could save homeowners in non-hydranted areas an estimated $180,000 per year in insurance costs.
Given that potential saving, LFR is keen to determine if SSTS is a possibility here in Lantzville. On May 15 we conducted the first test of our ability to deliver water in accordance with the tough benchmarks established for SSTS: flow 200 gallons per minute (gpm) for two full hours.
The test called for our front-line engine, E-1, to be set up at the end of Sywash Ridge. Beside her we erected our two large ‘porta-tanks’, or portable water tanks. These would hold water from our shuttle trucks. Once they were full, E-1 would pump that water through a nozzle at the required 200 gpm at 100 pounds per square inch of pressure.
A rotation of shuttle trucks then attempted to sustain the flow of water by travelling back and forth between the porta-tanks and a hydrant located near the stables on Harby Road. This is a good approximation of the maximum distance in Lantzville between dwelling and hydrant. The trucks included Lantzville’s E-6, E-4 and a tender on loan for the test from Nanaimo’s Station 1.
Since the aim was to capture a true sense of our STSS capabilities, the test was run at a pace similar to that seen in a real fire response. Engines shuttling water were timed from the second they stopped in front of the hydrant until the second they returned. Frenetic, pit-stop levels of speed were required to couple the returning tankers to the hydrant, pump up to two thousand gallons of water into them and de-couple them for the trip back to the porta-tanks.
Despite the intensive preparation that went into the operation and its near flawless execution, the results of this first test proved inconclusive. While our porta-tanks were always full, a later study of the timings suggested we would have run dry before reaching the two-hour goal. That meant our flow meter may have been inaccurate and that we may not have actually been flowing the required 200 gallons per minute.
To clear up the discrepancy a second test was held May 23 using a different flow meter but the same set-up, minus the Nanaimo tender. That test failed after a little more than 30 minutes – the porta-tanks ran dry with E-6 and her 2,000 gallons mere seconds away.
LFR plans another test in the near future. Given how close we are, it may be that a little juggling of our Engines is all that’s needed to achieve the necessary timings. Whatever happens, the Hall is getting valuable insight into the capabilities of the new vehicle(s) it will need to make STSS, and the savings windfall for homeowners, a reality.
Follow us next month for another report.