|(1-2) When planning how to put the flammable liquid fire out for one scenario, Deputy Chief Andy Sandoukas had to decide where to place the Neptune pump and the Iron Man nozzle. (Photos by author.)|
|(3-4) The Union County (NJ) Neptune Task Force has 4,000 feet of 12-inch line available. Four reels mounted to a truck transport the hose. Each length of 12-inch line is 500 feet long.|
|(5) The Neptune system uses two hydraulically powered pumps that are lowered into the water by a platform ladder truck. Shown here is one pump ready to be lowered into the water. Once there, it will supply the Neptune pump through an eight-inch supply line.|
|(6) The Iron Man nozzle used by the Union County Neptune Task Force can flow between 5,000 and 8,000 gpm, depending on what size tip is used.|
From September 21-24, personnel from the Union County Neptune Task Force met in Port Newark, New Jersey, for an annual drill involving deploying the task force’s Neptune system and Iron Man nozzle. The task force comprises the Elizabeth, Union, Linden, Hillside, Millburn, Kenilworth, and Roselle Fire Departments in Union County, New Jersey. Apparatus includes 12 foam tenders carrying 4,000 gallons of foam concentrate each, making up to 48,000 gallons of foam concentrate available for incidents. The task force has existed since 2005 and was devised as part of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program, chaired by Chief Lathey Wirkus.
Coordinating a drill of this type is no easy task. Four crews went through setting up the Neptune system from beginning to end. The task force has 4,000 feet of 12-inch supply line contained on four reels, with each reel carrying two lengths of 500 feet. The Neptune unit carries eight-inch supply line of varying lengths.
Deputy Chief Carl Heitmeyer, of the Elizabeth Fire Department, coordinated the event and gave the task force leader from each crew a different problem to solve. For example, on September 21, the problem involved a tank fire that was ¾ full with about two million gallons of ethyl alcohol on fire. The piping feeding the tank was broken and leaking, and the 160- by 160-foot dike area was almost fully involved with fire. The task force leader’s objective was to put out the tank and dike area fire.
To complete his task, Deputy Chief Andy Sandoukas, also of the Elizabeth Fire Department and task force leader for the September 21 scenario, had several things to figure out: nozzle location and gallons per minute (gpm) tip size; where to place a ladder company, which assisted Neptune deployment; where to place the Neptune pump; and where to place the foam transfer location, with the correct number of jet pumps. Other objectives for the leader included computing the gpm required, the total foam concentration required, and the number of pools and tenders required.
From a coordination standpoint, Sandoukas assigned group supervisors to perform Neptune setup, foam transfer setup, safety, accountability, and documentation of benchmarks. Setting up went far beyond just equipment placement. Typically, Heitmeyer would have three task force leaders available to cover the above supervisor positions. But, according to Heitmeyer, between last year’s drill and this year’s, he lost a lot of experienced personnel because of retirements. For the September 21 drill, it would take a few hours longer as Sandoukas and Heitmeyer covered four different assignments.
Running the Drill
All four drills took place on the same stretch of Pier 125 in Port Newark, New Jersey. When using very large diameter hose, where the hose is laid out is critical. Even dry it is very heavy, and once full you can’t move it at all. The group responsible for laying the 12-inch supply line had to determine the best way to lay it out so that there wasn’t extra hose. Unlike traditional supply lines, firefighters can’t just break the line and deal with a little extra hose—not with hose lengths measuring 500 feet. Additionally, Sandoukas directed the crew laying the 12-inch line that, “This is 12-inch hose; you have to make it go easy. You can’t have right angles.” While the 12-inch line crew began laying the line from the Iron Man nozzle to the Neptune pump, the Neptune crew began its own setup.
Setting up the Neptune pump, for the purpose of this drill, meant deploying two hydraulically powered pumps into the water connected to two eight-inch supply lines. Doing this is no easy feat. Before members deploy the pumps, the Neptune pump itself must be offloaded from the roll-off truck. The Roselle Fire Department has assisted with pump deployment each year since the task force was created.
The two smaller pumps that supply the Neptune are lowered into the water via Roselle’s platform ladder using a rope and pulley and a rope brake. The ladder truck serves as the anchor point for the pulley system. Once the pumps are in the water, they are tied off so they do not float away. The pumps have floats on them that keep them near the surface of the water. By the time the hose team completes the hoselay, the pumps are in the water and the Neptune is ready to flow water to the Iron Man nozzle.
For this drill, the target gpm was 5,000. According to Heitmeyer, the Iron Man nozzle will flow 5,000 to 8,000 gpm, depending on what size tip is used. The fire involved ethyl alcohol, so foam was also necessary. The foam component of the drill consisted of an engine supplied by a hydrant that pumped two 1¾-inch lines connected to jet pumps. The jet pumps pick up the foam out of the pools and send it back through 2½-inch lines to a water thief, which supplies a three-inch line back to the Neptune’s intake. Three foam tenders were on hand, and two pools were used for this drill. Heitmeyer states that if the task force is placed in service, he would offload the foam required into pools with additional foam tenders standing by.
When the Iron Man crew reported it had 125 pounds per square inch (psi) at the nozzle, Heitmeyer called the jet pump engine supplying water to foam operations for 200 psi. Shortly thereafter, the 5,000-gpm flow picked up the food-dye-colored water from the foam pools. About 60 seconds later, the Iron Man nozzle’s stream was pink—the foam operation was a success.
This drill is as important for the equipment as it is for the personnel participating. The Union County task force has 4,000 feet of 12-inch hose. It is rarely placed in service, so the annual drill allows firefighters to inspect the hose and the hose gets tested. Each platoon gets a chance to watch it in service, and after the pumps are lowered into the water, Roselle personnel will inspect and log the rope used during that operation.
Additionally, other departments get a chance to observe the Neptune system. In one case, Marine 1 from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the department spec’d 12-inch discharges to work with the system. Considering the 50,000-gpm pump on the boat and the 10,000-gpm rating of 12-inch hose, the Union County Neptune Task Force could lay out all 4,000 feet of its line and have suitable flow at the Iron Man if necessary.
CHRIS Mc LOONE, associate editor of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, is an 18-year veteran of the fire service and a captain with Weldon Fire Company (Glenside, PA). He has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years. While with Fire Engineering, he contributed to the May 2006 issue, a Jesse H. Neal Award winner for its coverage of the Hurricane Katrina response and recovery.
The Neptune System
- Can be set up 150 feet away and 50 feet above water.
- Features a boost pump capable of pumping up to 175 psi and 5,000 gpm.
- Main discharge pump is powered by a 600-hp Caterpillar engine.
- Features two hydraulically driven submersible pumps that supply the Neptune boost pump via two eight-inch supply lines.
- Submersible intake pumps are driven by a 300-hp Caterpillar engine.
- System includes a variety of manifolds and hose diameters (five-, eight-, and 12-inch) to provide flexibility.
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