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Hagerstown Fire Department trains on parking deck

Broken fire hydrant and a problem with pumper truck's engine throttle were discovered during exercise

April 14, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown Fire Department firefighters Cole Hollinger, left, Zachary Schmidt and Scott Wolff climb five floors of stairs to the North Potomac Street Parking Deck during a training exercise Sunday.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

A broken fire hydrant and an issue with a pumper truck’s engine throttle were discovered during a Hagerstown Fire Department training exercise Sunday morning at the North Potomac Street Parking Deck, fire officials said.

Other than those issues, the training went well, Battalion Chief Russ Grimm said.

A fire hydrant on North Potomac Street, in front of The Gourmet Goat and Senior Notes, was struck by a vehicle at some point, Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven said. When pushed, the hydrant tipped, and if a hose were to be hooked up to it, the water would come out near the flange, or rim around the bottom, he said.

Better to find something wrong during a training exercise, DeHaven said after the broken fire hydrant was discovered, but before the training began.

If there were an actual fire in the area, there were two other fire hydrants nearby, DeHaven said. Fire hydrants are spaced about 350 feet apart downtown and about 500 feet apart elsewhere in the city, he said.

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After the training, Grimm said there was an issue with the new electronic engine throttle the Engine 1 pumper truck received this year. This was the first time the issue cropped up, he said.

The higher the engine’s revolutions per minute, the more water pressure the fire hoses are supposed to have, Grimm said. While the water never ceased being pumped, the water pressure dropped, he said.

Grimm said he did not know for sure if interference from firefighters’ radios caused the problem with the electronic throttle.

The city’s central maintenance department was expected to take a look at the engine throttle today, Grimm said.

The training focused on using standpipes, which can be found in high-rises, buildings which are generally more than six stories tall, and mid-rises, which are generally four to six stories high, DeHaven said.

Standpipes allow firefighters to hook hoses up on higher floors so a hose doesn’t have to be hooked up to a water source at ground level and be carried up.

On Sunday, two simultaneous exercises were held. One group hooked a hose to a standpipe in the first-floor stairwell to operate the hose on the deck’s second floor. The other group hooked the hose up to a standpipe connection on the deck’s roof to operate the hose there.

Before the training exercise, firefighters flushed the pipes in the deck. Grimm said some minor leaks were discovered.

In order for each of the fire department’s three paid crew shifts, as well as volunteer firefighters, to have an opportunity to train, training operations will be held the next two Sundays, DeHaven said.

The April 21 training will begin at 1 p.m. at the Arts & Entertainment District Parking Deck, and the April 28 training will begin at 9 a.m. at the North Potomac Street Parking Deck, he said. During training, which is scheduled for three hours, the decks are closed.

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