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WATER SUPPLY STUDY IMPLEMENTATION WORK GROUP

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I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Water Supply Study Implementation Work Group (WSSIWG) was established by the Fire Administrator in December, 1999, to create a joint-committee work group to modify, as necessary, the Draft Report of the Water Supply Work Group (WSWG), and to develop a comprehensive plan to implement recommendations for water supply enhancements. The WSSIWG is composed of the three members of the original WSWG, plus two members (each) from the Fire and Rescue Commission’s Operations Committee and Finance, Technology and Planning Committee.

The WSSIWG concluded that the majority of the WSWG’s recommendations for water supply enhancements could be endorsed with few or no changes. Concerning the few cases where the WSSIWG was not in complete agreement with WSWG recommendations, the group made moderate changes to these WSWG recommendations. The affected recommendations include Equipment and Apparatus Recommendations #1 (pertaining to additional tankers and engine-tankers), and #2 (addressing service testing of pumpers). The WSSIWG decided that the Draft Report of the WSWG would not be re-written to reflect these modified recommendations, but merely revised to incorporate factual, grammatical, and format changes provided by MCFRS personnel and others, resulting from the 60-day review period which concluded on December 17, 1999. The revised Draft Report of the WSWG is an attachment to the Final Report of the WSSIWG.

For each of the 32 water supply recommendations, the WSSIWG researched and discussed associated impacts, including ease of implementation, fiscal, legislative, policy/ procedures, and geographical impacts. The WSSIWG then developed an implementation plan for each recommendation, including a discussion of the impacts, a timetable for completion, how the recommendation would be implemented, and who would implement it.

The WSSIWG believes serious deficiencies exist within the water supply delivery capabilities of the MCFRS, as described in Section V – "Conclusions." Most of these deficiencies are inherent within the MCFRS itself, however some deficiencies are found within the municipal water systems and other systems external to the MCFRS. The WSSIWG’s recommendations and corresponding implementation plans, if adopted, will form the basis of a much-needed program to address water supply deficiencies facing the MCFRS.

The WSSIWG wishes to emphasize the urgency of implementing these water supply recommendations. Without these improvements, the MCFRS suppression capability will not keep pace with the increasing level of fire risk associated with growth in the county, particularly in rural areas and rural-suburban fringe areas. Considering that implementation of all 32 recommendations will require about 8-10 years, the WSSIWG wants to stress that the process must be initiated immediately.

To ensure that the implementation process is initiated quickly and managed effectively, the WSSIWG has devised a management plan calling for the District Chief of the new MCFRS Research and Planning Unit (RPU) to lead and manage this effort. The plan also calls for the creation of a Water Supply Task Force to assist the District Chief, RPU, in completing this comprehensive project. The plan further envisions the establishment of several work groups, overseen by the Water Supply Task Force, that would be charged with executing the implementation plans for the water supply recommendations, following approval by the Fire and Rescue Commission.


II. WATER SUPPLY STUDY IMPLEMENTATION WORK GROUP

Purpose and Work Group Charge

During the months of September and October, 1999, the Draft Report of the Water Supply Work Group (WSWG) was presented to the Operations and Finance, Technology, and Planning (FTP) Committees of the Fire and Rescue Commission (FRC). Based upon the joint recommendation of the two committee chairmen, the Water Supply Study Implementation Work Group (WSSIWG) was established by the Fire Administrator in December, 1999. The purpose of establishing the WSSIWG was to create a joint-committee work group to modify, as necessary, the Draft Report of the WSWG, and to develop a comprehensive plan to implement recommendations for water supply enhancements. The intent of establishing the WSSIWG was to ensure that water supply enhancements recommended by the WSWG are further refined and that a plan for their implementation is developed for consideration by the Fire Administrator and FRC. In addition, it is envisioned that several of these water supply enhancements will influence major policy changes within the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS), necessitating amendments to the Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Medical Services Master Plan.

The WSSIWG, whose members were appointed by the Fire Administrator, was assigned the following charge by the Fire Administrator. He asked the group to complete its charge and forward its final report to the FRC for action during the Spring of 2000.

Work Group Composition

Name Title Work Group Role Affiliation

Chief Dennis Urban, BFD

WSSIWG Chairman

Operations Committee, FRC

MFF Robert Freeman, Commissioner, FRC

Member

Finance, Technology, & Planning Committee, FRC

DTC Steve Lohr

WSWG Chairman

Division of Fire and Rescue Services

Chief Scotty Cameron, BFD, (retired)

WSWG Member

Division of Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Scott Gutschick, Senior Planning Specialist

WSWG Member

Research and Planning Unit,

Fire Administrator’s Office

A/C Phil Guercio

Member

Operations Committee (Alternate)

Kenneth Fisher, President, GWGVFD

Member

FTP Committee (Alternate)

Methodology

Following discussion of the group’s charge, the Draft Report of the WSWG, and the comments received concerning the draft report, the WSSIWG devised a multi-facetted approach to completing its charge. The approach was based on the premise that the Draft Report of the WSWG would not be re-written to reflect the philosophy of the WSSIWG, but merely modified to incorporate factual, grammatical and format changes found within the comments provided by MCFRS personnel and others during the earlier 60-day review and comment period. Thus, one facet of the project involved making minor modifications to the WSWG’s Draft Report, resulting in the Final Report of the WSWG (see Section III of this report).

The second facet of this project focused on the recommendations of the WSSIWG, incorporating its philosophy within recommendations of the WSWG. Through in-depth discussions, the WSSIWG concluded that the majority of the WSWG’s recommendations for water supply enhancements could be endorsed by the WSSIWG with few or no changes. Concerning the few cases where the WSSIWG was not in complete agreement with WSWG recommendations, the group made moderate changes to these WSWG recommendations. Section IV and Appendices B and C of this report address the consensus recommendations of the WSSIWG.

For each WSSIWG recommendation, the group researched and discussed the associated impacts. Five impacts were addressed: ease of implementation, fiscal, legislative, policy /procedures, geographical. With the recommendations and their impacts identified, the WSSIWG then developed an implementation plan for each recommendation, including a discussion of the impacts, a timetable for completion, how the recommendation would be implemented, and who would implement it. The implementation plan for each recommendation is presented in Appendix C.


III. REVISION OF THE DRAFT REPORT OF THE WATER SUPPLY WORK GROUP

Suggested Modifications and Corrections

As a result of the 60-day comment period for the "Draft Report of the Water Supply Work Group," comments were received from personnel within the MCFRS, other fire and rescue departments, and external (non-fire/rescue) organizations. A list of persons submitting comments, and their affiliation, is presented in Appendix A.

Comments generally fell into two categories – suggested corrections of a factual or grammatical nature, and opinions regarding concepts, strategy, tactical considerations, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and training. Most of the comments pertaining to inaccuracies were provided by external organizations, including the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, City of Rockville Public Works Department, and the Insurance Services Office, Incorporated.

Comments regarding concepts, strategy, tactical considerations, SOPs, and training were provided by personnel from the MCFRS and other fire departments. Most of these comments reinforced conclusions and recommendations of the WSWG and focused on the priority in which the recommendations should be implemented. Several individuals offered their opinions on the topics of large diameter hose, engine-tankers (1000-2000 gallons) versus standard tankers (3000-3500 gallons), pump type and capacity, standardization of hose and appliances, foam strategies, and mandatory residential sprinkler requirements. Expanding the scope of the water supply study to include fire attack considerations (i.e., hose lines, nozzles, etc.) was also suggested. The Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department, located in Carroll County, provided a great deal of information regarding their rural water supply apparatus, equipment, and procedures, and their goal and related efforts to lower their ISO rating.

Finally, the Southeast Rural Olney Civic Association (SEROCA) provided comments on their concerns about the MCFRS’ ability to deliver and apply sufficient water to suppress fires in their neighborhood. In 1997, there was a large-loss fire in their non-hydranted community (see page 87 of the WSWG Final Report), where water supply was a significant issue affecting fire suppression operations. SEROCA is asking that tanker resources be deployed nearby, that local fire department maps/pre-plans be updated, that WSWG recommendations be implemented, and that a process for implementing the recommendations be established, including a timetable and a mechanism for accountability.

Final Report of the WSWG

The Final Report of the Water Supply Work Group is an attachment to this report, appearing directly after Appendix E. Incorporated within the report are factual, grammatical, and format changes found within the comments provided by MCFRS personnel and others.

The recommendations of the WSWG have been left intact. Recommendations that were modified by the WSSIWG are not included in the Final Report of the Water Supply Work Group. They are described in detail in Section IV and Appendices B and C of this report.


IV. RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE WATER SUPPLY STUDY IMPLEMENTATION WORK GROUP

Introduction

As stated in Section II, the WSSIWG concluded that it could endorse the majority of the WSWG’s recommendations for water supply enhancements, with few or no changes. The WSSIWG determined that only a few of the WSWG’s 32 recommendations would benefit from either modification or expansion.

This section of the report, combined with Appendices B and C, present the recommendations of the WSSIWG. A standard format has been developed to present the recommendations and corresponding implementation plans. For each recommendation, the original WSWG version is provided, followed by a Comments section, which provides background information and describes how the recommendation would be implemented. If the WSSIWG is offering a modified version of a WSWG recommendation, it appears immediately after the WSWG recommendation and prior to the Comments section. The next section presents a discussion of the impacts of implementing the recommendation, including ease of implementation, fiscal, legislative, policy/procedures, and geographical impacts. Finally, a timeline for implementation is presented.

A list of WSSIWG recommendations is presented in Appendix B of this report. The WSSIWG recommendations, associated impacts, and implementation plans appear in Appendix C of this report. Appendix D presents a composite timeline for the implementation of all 32 WSSIWG recommendations, incorporating the timeline for each recommendation as described in Appendix C. An overview of the implementation of WSSIWG recommendations appears in Appendix E, including the interface between recommendations, and the external coordination that will be required with non-MCFRS agencies and organizations to implement the recommendations.

Implementation Management

Implementation of the WSSIWG’s 32 recommendations will involve a comprehensive, long-term effort and require a considerable commitment of resources and funding. The success of this project will be dependent upon leadership, process management, assignment of personnel, funding for new apparatus, equipment and training, and a firm commitment from the entire MCFRS to implement the recommendations. To this end, the WSSIWG has devised a proposed management plan, which is described briefly below.

The WSSIWG recommends that the District Chief of the new MCFRS Research and Planning Unit (RPU) lead and manage this project. The project, with its emphasis on planning, technology, and policies/procedures, fits well within the scope of the responsibilities of the Research and Planning Unit. The District Chief of this unit, therefore, is the logical choice to head this project. This individual would be responsible for leading and managing this project, interfacing with FRC Committees, as necessary, and providing progress reports to the Fire Administrator, Fire and Rescue Commission, and the Finance, Technology and Planning Committee. RPU staff would assist the District Chief with this project, as appropriate.

The WSSIWG further recommends that a Water Supply Task Force be established to assist the District Chief, RPU, in completing this project. One approach proposed by the WSSIWG would be the formation of several work groups, overseen by the Water Supply Task Force, that would be charged with executing the implementation plans for the WSSIWG’s 32 recommendations. The Water Supply Task Force would function as the body responsible for coordinating the efforts of the work groups, and reporting progress and issues to the District Chief, RPU.

The proposed work groups would be composed of career and volunteer MCFRS personnel, and, possibly, representatives of organizations such as WSSC, City of Rockville Public Works Department, Town of Poolesville Public Works Department, County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation, etc. The District Chief, RPU, and the Chair of the proposed Water Supply Task Force may also seek the assistance and input of Division of Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) personnel assigned to fire-rescue stations. For example, the need for fire risk data, by response area, could be obtained, in part, through the Standard Training Program. The WSWG used this approach successfully during its data collection phase. Other sources of staffing for this project might include DFRS personnel assigned to long-term light duty, and Division of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service administrative personnel having appropriate experience.

The WSSIWG suggests that the Water Supply Task Force address the following topics, at a minimum:

  • Equipment and Apparatus
  • Training, Tactics and Operations
  • Planning and Technology
  • Inter-Agency Coordination
  • Residential Sprinkler

V. CONCLUSIONS

The WSSIWG concurs with the WSWG analysis that serious deficiencies exist within the water supply delivery capabilities of the MCFRS. Most of these deficiencies are inherent within the MCFRS itself. Some deficiencies, however, are found within the municipal water systems and other systems external to the MCFRS (e.g., dry standpipe on American Legion Bridge). The fact that about 40 percent of the county is not served by fire hydrants complicates the water supply delivery issue.

The major issues affecting the MCFRS ability to supply water during fire suppression operations include the following:

  • Lack of a standard water supply policy and related SOPs, particularly concerning non-hydranted areas
  • Lack of training in efficiently establishing an effective water supply, particularly concerning operations in non-hydranted areas
  • Lack of large-volume water shuttling apparatus
  • Minimal standardization concerning hose, hose appliances, and their configuration
  • Lack of regular testing of pumpers and hoses
  • Lack of readily-accessible, reliable, static water sources, particularly those equipped with dry hydrants
  • Absence of tanker dispatch on response assignments in some non-hydranted areas
  • Lack of readily accessible, standardized maps and building floor plans accurately indicating the locations of fire hydrants, fire department connections, sprinkler system valves, static water sources, etc.
  • Lack of readily-available, uninterrupted water supply for limited-access highways
  • Lack of coordination between the MCFRS and the municipal water authorities
  • Difficulties associated with hydrants that are inoperable due to lack of regular maintenance
  • Lack of a contingency plan that provides for adequate water supply for fire suppression during times of catastrophic failure of any of the municipal water systems

The WSSIWG firmly believes that every one of these issues and deficiencies can be resolved or minimized through a comprehensive program of improvements. Included within these improvements would be new policies and procedures; new apparatus and equipment; standardization of procedures, maps, and equipment; enhanced training; and improved planning and coordination with the municipal water authorities. The WSSIWG’s recommendations and corresponding implementation plans, if adopted, will form the basis of this much-needed water supply enhancement program.

Considering the scope and magnitude of fire fighting water supply deficiencies present in Montgomery County, coupled with on-going and planned growth, implementation of the WSSIWG’s recommendations must begin in the immediate future. Without these improvements, the MCFRS suppression capability will not keep pace with the increasing level of fire risk associated with growth, particularly in rural areas and rural-suburban fringe areas. The result will be greater property damage, and, possibly, more casualties. An increase in property damage could adversely affect the county’s ISO rating, leading to higher insurance premiums for property owners. Considering that implementation of all WSSIWG recommendations will take about eight to ten years to achieve, the urgency of initiating the process is underscored.

 

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