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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Fire Department tests hoses and ladders to save lives

Fire Department tests hoses and ladders to save lives

“If a hose or ladder fails, we can get hurt and we can’t save lives.” Captain Kelly Alvis speaks the truth and leads the annual fire hose and ladder testing process to make sure the Fire Department’s equipment is kept at a high level of quality.

The city uses the third-party vendor, Waterway Inc., to unload, test, and reload the hose from the city’s fire apparatus. They recently set up in the West View Rec Center parking lot and to test all the hose and ladders from 10 engines and trucks over two days.

“The life expectancy for each hose varies depending on the couplings, gaskets and overall wear and tear,” said Alvis. “This standardized hose testing allows us to inventory every hose and confirm its quality. Each hose is labelled with a manufacture date and a number based on size and which rig the hose is on.”

After each hose is unloaded and stretched out, it is connected to a testing pump. The hoses are then pressurized to their corresponding test pressure. For example, five inch diameter hose is tested at 200 PSI while 1 ¾” hose is tested at 500 PSI. During testing, the pressure is increased gradually and held for five minutes to check for hose integrity and coupling slippage.

If a hose doesn’t pass the test, it’s evaluated to see if it can be repaired or needs to be replaced. If a coupling at the end of the hose is starting to fail, it can be recoupled to extend the life of the hose.

Once testing is over, the water in the hose is drained into a ditch that runs along the recreation center.

The ladder testing involves attaching a winch to the middle of the ladder and then pulling down on the ladder, applying up to 1,000 pounds of pressure.

“If you have several firefighters with the gear they're wearing or carrying and then have to rescue someone, the weight demands we put on the ladder can get pretty heavy,” said Alvis. “The testing ensures that we don’t have to worry.”

The testing also involves checking the ladders’ locking mechanism, the heat indicator’s functionality and the halyard ropes.

The annual process helps the Department budget for hose and ladder replacements and avoid any surprises. By using Waterway Inc. to test, instead of doing the testing internally, the Department is able to expedite the testing process and limit the number of firefighters and apparatus that are out of service.

“The city puts a high priority on our safety and the community’s safety by making sure our equipment is ready to go,” said Alvis.

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