Know What You’re Renting – In Advance

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”   ― Ian Fleming

Type 6 Fire EngineI’ve heard some variety of the express over the years, and take a similar view when chatting with fire inspectors in the field.  Hear about it once, you shake your head.  Twice, it’s a trend.  If it comes up three times, well, it’s a legitimate event.  This time out, it was of an outfit using a pickup truck fire vehicle – a Type VI (or Type 6)  in fire service lingo – showing up for flowing new construction flow tests.

I don’t judge – I love all apparatus equally.  Like a parent speaking of their child, loving all equally doesn’t mean you’d overlook which child excels at math and which is the most artistic if you’re trying to choose just one of your Dependents to complete a task.  Choosing the right fire engine “Type” is no different. 

The Type VI is a workhorse when you’ve got a vegetation fire on a hillside and need a “billy goat” to climb up there and knock it down with water and a hose.  The disconnect with this sort of engine is what it’s NOT built to do – flow large volumes of water or provide a significant gallons-per-minute (GPM) or pressure (in pounds-per-square-inch, or PSI) when moving water.  A hillside on fire neither needs 200 PSI of water at 1,000 GPM, and that much water in the tank would diminish the Type 6’s handling and access skills.

Type 1 Fire EngineBut with a minimum specification of only 50 GPM at 100 PSI flowing, a standpipe in a structure is not this apparatus’ strength.  For that, the Type I (or Type 1) is the right vehicle for the job.  A Type I brings a minimum of a 1,000 GPM pump and able to flow upwards of 300+ PSI, along with a compliment of hose and other minutia that’s not as relevant here.  Given NFPA 14 is calling for 250 GPM per valve on the roof, and up to five valves maximum, there’s a potential flow need of 1,250 GPM with sufficient pressure to deliver that volume of water (NFPA 14 (2016) 7.10.1.1.5 for non-sprinklered buildings per NFPA 13, or 1,000 GPM maximum sprinklered throughout.)

For that sort of task, the right child to favor in this scenario is a Type 1 – commonly those “city” fire engines… anything less and you’re not fielding your best players to get the acceptance test done successfully, the first time, without looking less-than-prepared to the fire department inspector.

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