Firefighters resort to water shuttles if no hydrant is near

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Firefighters in Fayetteville had to take unusual measures to battle a house fire Friday morning. 

It had to do with the spacing of hydrants in the Buttermere Drive neighborhood.

In this case, the closest hydrant was at least two blocks away from the burning home, so firefighters had to get their water differently than just hooking up a hose to the hydrant.

When firefighters arrived at 4:18 a.m., crews found flames coming through the roof and two occupants outside the home.

“They did not catch a hydrant on the way in so they a conducted a water shuttle operation,” said T. J. McLamb, who is the fire marshall for the Fayetteville Fire Department.

The five engines on scene all arrived with enough water to begin firefighting operations but not enough to continue to douse the flames. 

“We took approximately 5,500 gallons of water to the scene when we arrived,” said McLamb.

They then began relaying water from the far away hydrant to the burning house.

“They were traveling a distance to that fire hydrant to resupply their engine,” he said. “They’d shuttle water back to the fire ground where they could hook up to the attack pumper and continue their attack.”

There are other ways firefighters could get water in a situation like that.

“We could’ve placed an engine at that hydrant a good distance away and boosted pressure coming back to our attack pump,” said McLamb.

They can also erect a swimming pool like structure called a dump tank to provide water.

The fire marshall says the incident commander decides which technique is the most efficient for the circumstances.

CBS 17 wanted to know If there had been a life safety issue would that water shuttle technique had caused any problems in fighting the fire.

“It shouldn’t have,” said McLamb.

He says that water shuttles are a pretty common technique especially in more rural areas which have no hydrants at all. 

The cause of the house fire was accidental according to the fire marshal.

He said it started near the chimney. 

McLamb says prior to the fire the homeowners have been using the fireplace. 

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