The engine company’s main job is to go in and put the fire out, right? Well yes but there’s a lot more to it than just that. For starters, without a thorough size up and hose selection, the task of fire suppression may be a bit more difficult than you think not to mention a preplan of your first due structures and strategic and tactical decisions prior to arrival but those topics are for another time and another day. Let’s also not forget any SOGs or SOPs the department has in place regarding fire attack and hose line operations as each department does things a little differently based on factors known to their department.
The engine company officer on the first arriving engine they have the job of determining the hose line used for the initial fire attack. This decision is critical to how the operation goes from this point on. Determine your hose line is determine by a few areas.
1. Size/type of structure
2. Size, location and extent of fire (if known)
4. Needed fire flow
5. Method of attack
These items listed are critical in determining which hose line is chosen for any given job but not always used based on the job.
So, the engine company officer determined which line they want pulled for their initial attack; now it’s time to make the stretch. Simple right? Well not, exactly. First off, practice and coordination with your own crew along with other crews going in will make for a smooth or bumpy initial attack. Determining your length of hose will be based on these areas but remember not all are for each job.
1. Method of entry (front, side or rear of structure)
2. Location and extent of fire (if known)
3. Building size (1 length per floor with vertical distance of 10-12 feet)
4. Apparatus distance to the front door
5. Pulling from a preconnecthosebed?
The method of entry is key since there are cases the front door may not be an option and a long stretch is needed to the rear of the structure or even a side door or window. In these cases, a preconnect may not be the best option. However, using a high-rise pack can help increase the lengths to your hose line. The location and extent of fire goes hand and hand with the method of entry since a smoother and quicker attack may be warranted by a different means of entry. This will all depend on an initial size up and 360 of the structure which can be done by the chief officer, if on scene before the engine.
Normally, residential structures are around 2,600 sq. ft. and most are 2 - 2 ½ stories. The first stretch will determine the rest so make sure the stretch from the apparatus to the FRONT DOOR is estimated properly. After making the front door, it’s now time to determine your stretch to the seat of the fire and knowing where the location and if it is close to a stairwell will help determine this stretch. Keep in mind the rule of thumb for hose stretches is 1 length per floor. Oh, and don’t forget the stairwell if you’re advancing up to a second floor or down to a basement, each flight of stairs will require 1 length of hose.
So, we made the stretch and found the fire room, we did it! Well not so fast, there’s still more work to be done. What’s our nozzle?
Combination Fog Nozzle:
1. Constant Flow Adjustable Gallon Nozzle
2. Low psi Hi Volume Auto Fog Nozzle
4. Adjustable GPM
5. Fix Variable
Constant Flow Adjustable Gallon Nozzle:
1. Stream is from wide to narrow fog patterns and a compact straight stream
2. GPM setting: 95-120-150-200 when pumped at 100psi
3. Adjustable GPM
Low psi Hi Volume Auto Fog Nozzle:
1. Stream rang from wide to narrow fog and a compact stream
2. Nozzle flows at 200 GPM when pumped at 75psi
3. Fixed GPM
1. Flows unimpeded from the hose through the bail and out the tip and moves at high velocity.
2. Allows for better reach and deeper penetration before it loses mass and breaks apart.
3. Excellent thermal penetration due to increased mass & velocity of the stream and rapidly cools all radiant heat sources along with the primary fuel source simultaneously.
4. Under heavy fire conditions, it allows for fire knock ahead of you rather than having to move closer to it.
Determining the hose size, hose stretch and reach is vital to a successful fire attack. These can be practiced prior to the call in the firehouse, at department burns and through preplanning. These determinations can also be practiced without even pulling hose. Setup cones distances apart and make each cone part of a scene. Make 1 the apparatus, 1 the front door and 1 the seat of the fire. Firefighters will now have to visualize a structure and estimate the lengths of hose needed to make each cone. Granted nothing is better than going out and pulling hose but for quick indoor training to get each other thinking, it does the job.
Let’s get out there, train and remember to never forget the basics.
Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.
About the Author
NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 16 years in the fire service in Piscataway, NJ as well as NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor and currently a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation. A martial arts practitioner in Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai as well as a former collegiate athlete in baseball, Nick is also a National Exercise & Sports Trainer Association Battle Ropes Instructor and studying for the Functional Fitness Instructor certification. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.