Firefighter markets hose gathering device
Volume 23. No 4
City of Waukesha, WI, firefighter Javier Fernandez got hurt picking up heavy fire hose. That was the simple inspiration behind a labor saving device called the RollNRack designed to spare the backs of hard working responders everywhere.
“I hurt my back working with LDH (large diameter hose),” Fernandez said. “I designed the RollNRack as a tool to prevent injuries to firefighters in our department, mainly me.”
The RollNRack unit is a portable, heavy-duty aluminum and stainless steel hose tool. It enables firefighters to scoop up a roll of hose – without lifting – and take it to where it is needed. After the fire, the firefighter simply adjusts the device for the correct hose diameter, rocks the roll into the unit and it’s transported and loaded back onto the truck safely with fewer firefighters than needed before.
The latest generation of RollNRack tools even drains the hose as it is being rolled up. A 100 foot length of LDH weighing as much as 135 pounds can be gathered up in less than 30 seconds with a touch of a button. Fewer firefighters are needed to collect the hose after a fire, meaning less time on scene.
“The great thing is, you don’t have to handle the hose or take it out of the unit to load it back onto the rig,” Fernandez said. “An automatic breaking mechanism locks the tool in place, allowing two firefighters to load the hose onto the hose bed. The rig remains stationary, allowing a department to be NFPA compliant while hose loading. It’s hard to believe, but there are still standing firefighters riding on top of moving rigs while loading hose.”
Eleven years ago, Fernandez noted that back injuries were putting a serious dent in the manpower levels for all departments. A lot of those back injuries were the result of lifting heavy rolls of hose.
“Originally, the RollNRack was just a tool for our department,” Fernandez said. “The goal was always to prevent a firefighter from lifting the hose roll off the ground. Basically, I stared at a hand truck for days, did a lot of drawing, and said to myself, this will be a better way.”
Another priority was that the device had to work despite differences in terrain and had to be portable. When Fernandez got close to what he wanted, he contacted a company specializing in prototypes to make his design a reality.
“We built a lot of mock ups,” he said. “Some things worked and some things didn’t. It was a very frustrating time, but I committed myself to developing it for other departments as well after I did research at FDIC and found there was no other tool available like it.”
For two years, the RollNRack remained an under wraps achievement. Then, in late 2003, Fernandez put the RollNRack on the market for the fire service. At the 2004 FRI (Fire Rescue International) in New Orleans, the tool was named one of the top five new products at the show by then NFPA fire hose committee chair Chief John Stacey.
“We introduced the new LDH Drain Attachment there and showed that shoulder draining was a thing of the past,” Fernandez said.
Today, Javier and his wife Rose are owners of RollNRack, LLC. The response from the industrial fire service has been especially encouraging, Fernandez said. He recently demonstrated it at both the Industrial Fire World Emergency Responder Conference & Exposition and the Williams Fire & Hazard Control foam fire fighting school.
The latest addition to the RollNRack Hose Management System is a Power Roller attachment. The unit is battery operated and allows the user to safely drain and roll up to a 100-foot length of 2½-, 3-, 4- or 5-inch LDH in less than 30 seconds. The firefighter then wheels the unit to the rig or trailer and loads the hose from that unit without handling the roll. You can even rock the roll out for storage.
Back strain injuries from lifting hose are responsible for more disability retirements than any other cause in the fire service. The RollNRack Hose Management System tools are a real way to protect firefighters and help them work smarter, faster, and more safely. With shrinking staff numbers and budgets, departments in every setting are challenged. The RollNRack tools are one solution, from one firefighter to another. For more information visit www.rollnrack.com.