Garden Hose Firefighting: A Good Idea Or Dangerous?

RENO, NV - It wasn't just firefighters battling flames Friday. Once again, a number of homeowners joined them armed with garden hoses.

There's little argument about the impulse. When our homes are threatened we want to do what we can and so, Friday while some ran for safety, others ran for a hose, turned on the faucet and prepared to make a stand.

It's something veteran firefighters have come to expect.

"We're all homeowners," says Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez. "We understand the urge to protect your property."

That doesn't mean Hernandez or any other firefighter endorses that choice. The main concern is your safety.

"We caution they have to have an escape plan and be ready to drop that hose and leave if the need arises," he says. "You can rebuild a home. You can't rebuild a lost life."

That caution aside, it happened a lot Friday and in some cases may have made a difference at homes like the Elcanos' house on Gibraltar Street near the top of Skyline Boulevard.

When embers from a burning home down the street drifted into their front yard, it set the landscaping on fire, bringing the flames literally to their front door.
The grabbed a pair of garden hoses.

"Because we wanted to save our home," says Bobby Elcano. "We were prepared to stay and fight."

Looking back Elcano says he's not sure their actions were as effective as they wanted. Still, he says firemen on the scene applauded their efforts, then handed them a real fire hose, letting them give the yard a real soaking. Losses were limited to the juniper bushes out front.

And if it happened tomorrow he would.... "Do it again," says Elcano. "I'd grab my hoses and save my home."

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