We are the first arriving engine on scene to a working fire and our job is to get water on the fire, right? Absolutely, truth be told that once the fire goes out the problems go away. However, determining the methods of attack and weapons of choice are a whole other ballgame. As we know, the first line pulled is the most important line coming off the first engine. Failure in making the right (critical) decision could make for a long night at the office and require more manpower and more work than originally required. On the flip side, having a not so sufficient crew with the correct line in place could also make for a long night.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as the initial arriving engine to consider when stretching the initial line in:
Consider the size up A.D.U.L.T.S (Advanced Fire on Arrival. Defensive Fire Ops. Unknown Location & Extent. Large Uncompartmented Area. Tons of Water Needed. Standpipe Ops.
Structure is 60 feet for more from the curb. Will 200 feet of preconnect work?
What’s the dimensions of the structure? Will 200 feet of preconnect still work even if the structure is greater than 60' plus feet from the curb?
If not, how many feet of hose will it take to make the fire from the door?
Is the line being stretched up or down a stairwell? This will add an additional 50 feet to the line.
Where is the crew calling for water? Before the door or inside the structure?
Are there any obstructions overhead if a dry line is being deployed?
Is there an adequate water supply coming in?
Most importantly, what’s the level of manpower?
These questions could all be answered prior to the call during pre-planning and made efficient during training. As we know each situation is different and when things become routine, it sometimes can be dangerous. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and explore non convention ways to solving the problem. Knowing our limitations but also knowing the best ways to use the equipment on the engine is a key role in successful fire suppression. The reason I say that is this, the engine carries water, hose (preconnected and not preconnected), tools of all kinds and firefighters for a reason and by knowing how to use the engine in ways other than always pulling preconnected handlines can make for sufficient, smooth and outside the box thinking firefighters. So next time you’re sitting around the kitchen table or on the bumper of the engine, give an address in your area and ask these questions to the firefighters on the crew and lets see how you’re all thinking. A thinking mind is a valuable mind.
Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.
About the Author
NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 17 years in the fire service in Piscataway, NJ, a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor, a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website. A martial arts practitioner and former collegiate athlete in baseball, Nick is also a National Exercise & Sports Trainer Association Battle Ropes Instructor, Functional Fitness Instructor and Nutrition Coach. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University, and a A.A.S in Liberal Arts - Business from Middlesex County College. Nick has spoken at the 2017 & 2018 Firehouse Expo in Nashville, TN as well as at numerous fire departments within NJ and fire service podcasts.