Friends of mine who are members of area truck companies aka ladder companies love to bust my chops being that I am an engine company guy. We get used to hearing the sayings like “You can train a monkey to advance a hose by throwing bananas down the hall” or “If the engine company is blocking the stairs just say (move important truck company coming through)”.
The job of the engine company seems simple enough, “put the wet stuff on the red stuff”. It takes a well-trained crew and apparatus to fulfill that saying. Simplicity of the engine company comes with experience. Hose kinks, pressure losses, lines not reaching the fire room and lack of supply line are what make engine company member’s head boil. Why is this?
It may be as simple as another fire service saying “as the first line goes, so does the fire”.
On the engine company it takes an ounce of prevention and detail to make a ton of difference on the fireground. How often do you stretch your handlines? When was the last time you pulled the 2 ½” handline? When was the last time you flowed your handlines? Pulled a draft? Conducted relay pumping and tender shuttles? There is never such a thing as stretching and flowing lines too many times. The public doesn’t want to hear excuses when the line doesn’t reach the fire floor or the line wasn’t pulled correctly and the block was lost.
When you’re re-racking lines, does your crew second guess how to rerack the lines, or has it become second nature? The saying “looks pretty, pulls pretty” comes to mind. It may take an extra few minutes to rerack it correctly at zero dark thirty but when the alarm rings for the next job, you are going to want that line to pull nice and smooth each and every time. Do you have riding positions on your engines, for when each member gets off the apparatus do they know their assignment? This helps keep accountability and cut down on confusion when arriving on scene.
There is much that can be discussed later about engine company tactics. For the time being we will give in to the truck company guys and keep the engine tactics simple. Steady is smooth, and smooth is fast. Summer is here, keep stretching and flowing those handlines. Get creative and start timing your company from drop of the supply line to water on the training prop.
The more you work at it, the smoother your engine company tactics will become.
About the Author
NICHOLAS WITCZAK is the lieutenant of Brookside Engine Co. 1 and volunteer EMT for the Mendham Township First Aid Squad. Additionally he serves as the Mendham Borough OEM Coordinator. Nick has served in a multitude of departments and positions over the last 8 years including Past Captain of Morristown Ambulance Squad, volunteer firefighter/EMT in combination fire departments including the Wallingford and Allingtown Connecticut fire departments. He has wealth of experience working and volunteering in emergency medical services including municipal, commercial, fire based EMS and 911 fire dispatching. He currently holds a B.S. in Fire Administration from the University of New Haven. Nick works full time in the fire protection industry specializing in safety, sales and project management. He works part time as the NJ Client Development Coordinator for Emergency Resource Management.