In My Travels…

By Chris Mc Loone

The great thing about fire service trade shows is that we get to see the newest products on display-and we get to do a fair amount of tire kicking to boot. What we don’t often get to see are these products in service. Such was the case for me concerning Elkhart Brass’s HeroPIPE™. I’ve watched Michael Wielgat, inventor of the HeroPIPE and a lieutenant with the Chicago (IL) Fire Department, assemble the appliance on several occasions but have never seen it deployed in a training environment. That changed though when I recently observed a demonstration of the HeroPIPE at the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute (MFRI).

The HeroPIPE is a high-rise exterior master stream system designed to be safe, light, mobile, reliable, and simple. It is operational from the floor below, features independent stabilizers, offers flow control at the appliance, and has waterway track safety locks. No tools are required to assemble it, and Wielgat suggests a minimum crew of two to three to put it in service.

Before observing the deployment, Wielgat gave a presentation on the unit, explained how it fits into current tactics employed at high-rise fires, and emphasized that this is not a tool to replace an aggressive attack on the fire, which he noted is successful 95 percent of the time.

In addition to observing the assembly process, I operated the nozzle via its wireless remote. Some general impressions follow:

• The hardest part of placing the HeroPIPE in service is extending the pipe up and out of the window to position it for knockdown. As Wielgat instructed the crew deploying the tool, if it does not go the first time, roll it back down and do it again.

• Assembly seemed pretty easy but, like any piece of equipment, will require repetitive training so putting it together becomes second nature.

• With good water, the HeroPIPE can deliver a high volume of water. When I asked Wielgat if he suggested securing a second water source for the HeroPIPE, like a separate standpipe supplied by its own pumper, he said no because at the stage you are likely to use the HeroPIPE, a line will not be in use on the fire floor.

• The wireless interface to operate the nozzle was easy to use and very intuitive.

• I also asked Wielgat about when to get the HeroPIPE to the floor below the fire, and he said as soon as there is confirmation of smoke or fire, get it to the floor below the fire in case it will be needed.

If you get a chance to attend a demonstration of this appliance and you have high-rises in your first due, it is worth a look. To date, two departments have purchased HeroPIPEs: the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the Chicago Fire Department. Personnel are going through training on the units before they are placed in service.

Grainger Training Exercise

I also recently made my way out to the Chicago area to observe an annual training exercise in which Grainger has participated for three years. Called the 2012 Red Dragon Community Resilience Exercise, this event brought together businesses, response agencies, and federal resources, including the United States Army Reserve, to test the coordination of public and private sector partners. This year’s exercise involved Grainger’s headquarters becoming unavailable, which in turn impacted its ability to coordinate its own resources to deploy to other disasters.

We train to prepare ourselves to respond and we also conduct drills to prepare ourselves for when we cannot respond but our first due must still be protected. This exercise proved that the private sector must also prepare itself for the potential that its ability to respond will be compromised by a disaster.

Another Take on Multipurpose Apparatus

Take a look at Bill Adams’s Apparatus Purchasing feature this month. It presents an alternative viewpoint regarding multipurpose apparatus. Depending on the circumstances of each department, Adams cautions that adopting this type of apparatus concept may not be in the best interest of every department. He divides purchasers into two groups-those who are forced into multitasking apparatus and those who choose to embrace the concept because they think it is a good idea-and directs his article at purchasers who willingly adopt a combination-type apparatus without having to. Take a look and let us know what you think about combination apparatus. As always, you can reach me at

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