On Saturday, June 19, Witmer Fire conducted a Water Supply Drill off Pennwick Lane in East Lampeter Township. The farm on Pennwick Lane provides for some unique challenges, which makes it an excellent place to train.
- The farm is 2,300 feet away from the closest fire hydrant (2,000 feet from a dump site).
- The farm is at the end of a dead end road.
- The lane to the farm is narrow with a steep bank on the one side.
- The first 500 feet to the farm from the dump site is uphill.
- There is room for only about four to five fire apparatus at the farm.
All of these challenges make the farm one of the most difficult properties in our response area.
For our community, and those unfamiliar with rural water supply, areas that are not serviced by fire hydrants, need to have water brought to the scene by use of tankers (typically between 2500 and 3500 gallon water tanks on wheels). A dump site has one or more 4000 gallon collapsible port-a-tanks that are set up. A tanker dumps their water into the port-a-tank, an engine sucks the water from the tank and pumps it down the driveway to the apparatus fighting the fire. If the fire is more than 1000 feet from the port-a-tank, additional engines will be added to boost the water pressure traveling down the hose to the scene.
For the drill, Witmer Fire was “dispatched” for a 1-Alarm Barn. On the first alarm assignment were Engines 62-2, 62-1, 61-1 and 204 along with Truck 63, Tankers 62 and 41. Captain 62 (Kling) arrived on scene as the Duty Officer. Engines 204 and 62-2 start dropping 5” supply lines after they were half way back the driveway. Truck 63 made its way back to the lane and set up master stream operations. Engines 62-1 and 61-1 dropped a 5” supply line from the dump site to the beginning of the previous engines. Tanker 62 set up the initial dump site with dual port-a-tanks. Deputy Chief 62 (Lapp) was designated the water supply officer and LT 62-2 (Creamer) had operations. The drill was monitored by Chief 62 (Sherman) and 62-2 (Kauffman).
Part of the drill also brought the Tanker Taskforce, three engines and ten tankers. Three different fill sites were secured by engines 41-1, 31-1 and 63-1, with 31-1 eventually closing their site and moving to the dump site. The eleven tankers dumped approximately three loads each, requiring them to make the loop from the scene to the fill site twice. Tankers 29, 20, 35, 55, 44, 22, 69, 76, 45 and Engine 43-1 were utilized, moving at least 90,000 gallons of water to the scene over the course of the drill. Fire police from 62, 41, 66, 22 and the FP Taskforce Coordinator were used along the tanker loop to help with traffic.
The drill’s target was to supply the scene with 2,000 gallons/minute of water. Throughout the evolution, and trying different combinations, we found what worked, and, more importantly, what didn’t work. Officers from Witmer, along with neighboring companies, will take the information from this training and make changes to our preplanning.
Over 100 firefighters and support personnel came out from 16 different departments to participate in the drill. All of this was on the heels of the 2 Alarm Barn Fire in Strasburg that Witmer was assisting on. Both Engine 62-2 and Tanker 62 operated till early Saturday morning. It was a long day for many departments.
A special thank you to Lancaster Township Fire Department for covering calls in our district during the drill and helping to get our equipment back in service after the drill. Also, to our newly formed support group for feeding the crews. Our world famous ox roast always hits the spot!
- Bird in Hand
- Manhein Township
- Upper Leacock
- West Earl
- New Danville
- Hempfield Fire
- West Hempfield
- Lancaster Township (Standby)
Check out these great photos: