Wildland firefighters benefit from being educated about the variety of tools available to them. In this article, we will explore the different types of wildland hose packs. You will learn their histories, similarities, differences, benefits, and when they may be best deployed. All this information will help if you ever need to make a decision about purchasing such an item, or if you want to better understand the tools of your trade.
Hopefully, once you have finished reading this article, you will better comprehend an item that greatly benefits wildland firefighters. As a nation, we need firefighters to be as well-equipped as possible if they are to manage the scourge of overwhelming forest fires. Among other important tools, wildland hose packs are an essential part of that management.
What Are Hose Packs?
Simply put, a hose pack is a type of wildland firefighter backpack that contains a firehose arranged in a way so that firefighters can easily deploy it. On some occasions, firefighters construct hose packs entirely from a hose and do not include a bag. They are useful for carrying large amounts of water in areas where firetrucks are not available.
Who Uses Hose Packs?
Although structural and wildland firefighters use hose packs, they hold a special prominence for the latter. Hose packs are useful because they allow firefighters to transfer large amounts of water across great distances. When wildland firefighters are deep in a wooded area, they can rely on hose packs to transfer the much-needed water.
What Is a Hose Lay?
A hose lay is the preconfigured arrangement of a fire hose that is designed to facilitate its deployment when in high-stress or high-danger situations. It was originally designed in 1947 by Chief Burton L. Eno. He was an employee of the New York Fire Department. It was originally installed on a 1939 Buffalo Fire Appliance Corp. “Pathfinder” fire engine. However, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on hose lays in regard to how firefighters organize them to fit into hose packs. A hose lay is also called a “Mattydale lay,” “transverse lay,” “speedlay,” and a “cross-lay.”
It can take multiple people to construct a hose lay. At the very least, you need two people—one for each end of the hose. A third person will typically facilitate the process. Once firefighters connect the desired hose length, and at times remove the air with a fire hose vacuum, the hose is laid in its place. While firefighters store hoses wherever they are most needed, this article will explore hose packs, or the hose lays that fit into backpacks or onto the backs of wildland firefighters.
The Gansner Progressive Hose Pack
The Gansner Progressive Hose Pack is named after the employees of the Gansner Bar Guard Station, located in Plumas National Forest. They developed the hose pack, and it is the most common option used by wildland fire agencies today. The Gansner is essentially comprised of one length of 1.5-inch supply line and a length of a 1-inch attack line.
When prepared, the 1-inch attack line is coiled and ready for deployment beside the gated wye. As a result, there is a lower possibility that it will snag on sticks and rocks when it is in use. If the Gansner Progressive Hose Pack is used properly, the hose packs operate like legos, each one connected to the previous until a circle is built around the fire.
The Travis Progressive Hose Pack
Although it is difficult to know for certain exactly where it was developed, we know the Travis Progressive Hose Pack is an invention from somewhere in the southwest desert. In form and function, the Travis Progressive Hose Pack is very similar to the Ganser Progressive Hose Pack and the Lake George Progressive Hose Pack. Regarding the Travis’ design, a 1-inch attack line coils and deploys in a style similar to the Ganser, but it is built into a bag like the Lake George.
The Lake George Progressive Hose Pack
The Lake George Progressive Hose Pack was developed by employees at the Ocala National Forest's Lake George Ranger District. A key feature is that it does not require the equipment and tools needed to create the other packs. A single individual with a hose bag and a roll of flagging can build the pack. It shares many of the same components as other progressive packs. However, unlike the Gansner, which is tied by a parachute cord, the Lake George gets packed into a hose bag.
The Jarbo Supply Hose Pack
The Jarbo Supply Hose Pack was developed by employees of Jarbo Gas Station at the California Department of Forestry. The pack is made up of 200 feet of 1.5-inch hose. It is used to lay a trunk line to a flame that is a great distance from the pump, to create a line between pumps, or add onto a 1.5-inch attack hoselay. The Jarbo Hosepack does not have a nozzle and is not used for a progressive, attack hoselay.
Other Vital Tools for Wildland Firefighters
Hose packs play a vital role in a wildland firefighter’s work. However, they are not the only important tools in a firefighter’s arsenal. Some other important tools used by firefighters include:
- GPS devices
Wildland firefighters must be trained to use a wide variety of tools and tactics if they are to manage large, horrific fires. As the years go by, their technology becomes more advanced and more capable of handling the difficult demands of the job.
After exploring the different types of wildland hose packs, you hopefully have a better understanding of the vital uses of these excellent tools. Wildland firefighting is dangerous and overwhelming work. Our firefighters routinely go up against dangerous conditions, staggering odds, and stressful circumstances. As a nation, we are lucky that the technology in their field continues to keep up with the demands of their work. Hose packs remain one of their most useful and most sought-after tools. Hopefully, as time goes on, the technology behind hose packs will only grow stronger and become more intricate.