June 1, 2011
Firefighters train to use ‘drafting’ to
By SCOTT SMITH
Tribune staff writer
Kokomo — In January, the city of Kokomo
will annex around half of the fire territory currently served by the
Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department, a territory that stretches
out to 600 West and south to the Tipton County line.
Most of that territory doesn’t have fire
So Wednesday, Kokomo firefighters were
working on their drafting skills.
In firefighter terms, drafting means
drawing water from a source other than a hydrant. It could be a river,
a pond or an expandable drafting brought to a fire scene.
Kokomo Fire Chief Pat O’Neill said
firefighters frequently train on drafting — including setting up and
priming the main line between the water source and the fire engine.
“We’ve been drafting out of tanks since
I’ve been on the fire department,” O’Neill said. “If there’s a fire
right now in Orleans Southwest, we’re drafting.”
While the Kokomo firefighters train for
drafting, that doesn’t mean they have reason to use drafting in Kokomo
and the unincorporated parts of Center Township, where nearly
everything (apart from the Orleans Southwest subdivision) is close to a
District Chief Kevin Shaffer said he’s
never had to use drafting in 22 years on the department.
“There are a couple places up on the
north side where it’s too far [from a hydrant] to lay hose, but we just
shuttle water rather than draft,” he said.
Also unlike the township volunteer
departments, Kokomo doesn’t currently have its own tanker trucks and
For Wednesday’s training, the Howard
County Emergency Management Agency brought out a 4,000-gallon tanker
truck and a portable drafting pool. The agency has three tankers, each
equipped with at least one drafting pool, and agency volunteers
routinely run the tankers out to fire scenes in the county.
Now, Kokomo is poised to become one of
the departments utilizing the EMA’s tanker services at fire scenes.
Kokomo Fire Inspector Nick Glover said
the department will likely purchase some of the equipment the EMA
provides, but said plans haven’t been finalized.
“As the deadline comes closer to
annexation, we’ll have all of our ducks in a row then,” Glover said.
Kokomo officials are also considering
paying for an expansion of fire hydrants in the newly annexed
“Our first goal is to install them where
there is water service,” city engineer Carey Stranahan said Wednesday.
“We’re working on putting together a request for Indiana-American Water
Co. to install hydrants wherever the fire department thinks they’re
City residents living within a certain
distance from a fire hydrant pay a surcharge on their water bills to
pay for hydrant maintenance. Stranahan said he thinks something similar
will be arranged for the annexed areas.
Stranahan said he anticipates having new
hydrants installed in portions of the annexed area by next year.
In all, the city will be increasing its
territory by almost 40 percent when the annexation takes place.
Wednesday, Kokomo firefighters said they want to be prepared, if and
when they have to draft water at a fire scene.
“This is something you don’t do a lot
of; in 20 years, there’s only been once I’ve drafted on a fire, but
that’s why we train,” firefighter Ken Wilson said. “You want to be
prepared to protect these people as much as you can.”
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff
writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via e-mail at