Boone County fire district tests innovative Blitzfire nozzle

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 | 9:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It's known as the Blitzfire.

The Boone County Fire Protection District has been testing this innovative nozzle over the summer on a trial basis.

Deputy Chief Jeff Scott described the Blitzfire as "a time saver and manpower saver." The device can be set up in 60 seconds by one firefighter compared with traditional nozzles that can take up to five minutes with two firefighters, Scott said.

Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said ground monitors such as the Blitzfire are used to apply water to places that cannot be approached safely with a standard hand-line hose.

The hose is held in place by water pressure forcing the nozzle's legs into the ground. This makes it easier for firefighters to reach long distances at low angles, Scott said.

Earlier this summer, the district conducted a demonstration at its headquarters, comparing the Blitzfire, another nozzle by the Blitzfire's manufacturer, Task Force Tips, and an older portable ground monitor that the district had purchased. The officers of the Operations Bureau compared the three models' set-up speed and the angle, reach and pattern of the nozzles' streams.

Bureau officers had initially thought they would go with one of the two other nozzles because they were lighter, but "the safety aspects of the Blitzfire and the angle of the stream far outweighed the disadvantages of the weight," Scott said. 

This built-in safety feature automatically cuts off the flow of water if the nozzle is moved. This feature is valued by firefighters because if the monitor's stability is compromised the hose could begin moving uncontrollably.

"If (the hoses) get out of control they can kill someone," Scott said.

So far, the county firefighters have one demonstration Blitzfire in use. It has already been used to fight a July 25 barn fire near Hallsville.

A proposal to outfit 14 of the district's engines could be brought before the district's Board of Directors in the coming months, Blomenkamp said. These nozzles would cost the district about $2,600 each, he said.

If the Blitzfire monitors are purchased, they will be used in addition to the monitors already on the engines, Blomenkamp said.

For now, when county firefighters need to direct a steady stream of water at a low angle, they detach the fire engine deck guns and assemble them on the ground, Scott said.

These nozzles have a maximum water flow of 1,250 gallons per minute, as opposed to the Blitzfire's maximum flow of 500 gallons per minute. However, these deck guns take far longer to set up and don't have the Blitzfire's safety feature, Scott said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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