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12:33 AM Sun, Feb. 17th

Fire hoses face road hazards

As if battling structure fires, smoke, inhaling hazardous chemicals, or dodging collapsing roofs or walls weren't enough, firefighters from Hualapai Valley and Kingman fire departments also have to contend with drivers who pass by a fire scene and accidentally or intentionally run over fire hoses.

HVFD Deputy Chief Jim Dykens said that firefighters should not have to worry about motorists hitting them or running over fire hoses, when their main concern is rescuing trapped victims, extinguishing a fire and keeping the fire from spreading.

"Just recently we had a firefighter hit by a motorist," Dykens said.

"The firefighter was not injured, but the potential of a serious injury was real."

HVFD also had three 100-foot sections of five-inch diameter fire hoses damaged - one totally cut open - in a structure fire last week when a passing motorist drove over it, Dykens said.

To replace the 100-foot section of hose, at about more than $7 a foot, it will cost the department and eventually the community about $800 to replace just one 100-foot section, Dykens said.

The other two sections of hose had to be taken out of service and will have to be pressure tested to see if it can be used again, Dykens said.

Each of the four engines used by HVFD carries 1,000 feet of 5-inch hose.

The loss of a third of length of hose carried in one engine undermines the efficiency of fighting a fire.

Minimum requirements state that 600 feet of hose must be on a engine during a call.

"We don't plan for having a five-inch hose out of service," he said.

"In some places it's the difference of getting water to a house fire and not getting water to a house fire."

More often than not during a fire, high pressure fire hoses will stretch across roads like snakes from the fire hydrant to the engines then to where the fire is.

Depending on a fire's location within the Kingman area, water pressure can range from 60 to 90 pounds per square inch to as much as 155 psi, he said.

Fire and/or law enforcement officials will also put up orange cones to block vehicle access to a fire scene.

Many motorists trying to avoid driving a block out of their way will drive around - and sometimes over - the cones, Dykens said.

In many cases, drivers will run over a flat hose that does not have water pressure through it.

Even driving over a flat hose will damage it severely.

A rock underneath a hose can puncture it when a car is driven over it.

A damaged hose could block the water to a fire putting firefighter's lives at risk, Dykens said.

"Please observe blocked roads at an emergency scene for the safety of your firefighters," Dykens said.

Motorists who drive over a fire hose face a civil violation and even a felony criminal charge if the hose is damaged.

Additional civil violations face drivers who pass through road blocks set up by Mohave County Sheriff's Office or Kingman Police Department.