Engine Company Ops: Standpipe Racks…

Really, I hate the term “high-rise” rack or “apartment bag” – or whatever you call it.  Those names imply single-situation use.  What these things are really is “100′ of easily carried/deployable hose with a spare nozzle”.  They are great for extending pre-connected lines long distances, or making up a gap when we come up short.  For this reason, every engine company should have some type of “standpipe rack” even if you don’t have a standpipe, or a building over 1 story, anywhere in your first due.

We could talk alot about high-rise fires and standpipes, but I just want to talk for a minute about setting up our equipment.  The goal of an engine company should be to get their hoseline in service as a team.  This means dividing the equipment up equally amongst the team.  If you have 3 or 4 firefighters on the rig, the load should be distributed evenly – this way we all get to the fire floor with a little energy left to work with.  Here are my thoughts….

Fires in a standpiped building can be extremely challenging.  I remember when I first joined the fire service our engine had a jet-pack looking backpack that contained 200′ of 1.75″ hose, the pipe and all the other necessities of a “standpipe-rack”.  The thing must’ve weighed 100 pounds and it was only designed for one person to carry it.  I’m not sure who the manufacturer thought was going to carry this awkward, unweildy thing up stairs – but it wasn’t going to be me.

There are a lot of commercially made high-rise bags that are clearly being made by people who have

  1. Never carried their own product.
  2. Never been to a high-rise fire.
  3. Have no idea what needs to be in that bag.

Use caution about what you buy.  Think about who, and how, is going to be carrying it.  

My department uses 1.5″ hose in our standpipe racks.  I know other departments use 1.75″, 2″, or 2.5″ for various reasons, and thats great.  Whatever you carry should be easy to carry and functional.  Operating with a 3 or 4 firefighter engine company, each engine is equipped with two standpipe racks.  Each rack contains:

  • 100′ 1.5″ hose
  • Combination nozzle (125gpm @100psi) with breakaway capability and 15/16″ slug
  • 2.5″ to 1.5″ reducer
  • Accessories such as rope-hose tool, door chocks, standpipe wheel, channel locks, etc.
While there are a lot of commercial products you can buy that may fit what you are doing, there are some very inexpensive options that you can make in-house for free or a couple bucks.  

One option involves an old piece of hose and some ambulance stretcher seat belts… Start with an old piece of 3″ or 4″ hose (depending on what size diameter hose you carry in the standpipe rack).  Cut this to about 4′ long.  Acquire some ambulance cot style seat belts – preferably the one piece kind with the quick release (seat-belt style) button.  The straps are mounted at each and and in the middle of the hose.  This can be done with a few washers & short bolts, or by making a slit in the sides of the 3″ hose and feeding the seat-belts through.
Using two 50′ lengths of hose, place the coupling just past one end, and pack two columns.  One side will have the pipe (nozzle) at the top, the other the female with your reducer.  A good tip here is to make sure that these heavy items end up directly under a strap.

  

When we have at least two firefighters entering the building, each brings one of these.  That gives us 200′ of attack hose.  The racks are very easy to carry. It is carried on either shoulder and drapes very nicely front to back, creating a good balance.

And if you don’t like it, or if you lose it – it didn’t cost you more than $10. 
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