As a firefighter on the engine, we all want to be "that guy" - the one on the nozzle leading the charge and putting the knock on the fire. However, not everyone can be tasked with this role and should understand that each firefighter on the line has a critical role to the successes of the nozzle firefighter. In general, the firefighter on the nozzle is considered to be the most senior firefighter of the crew during the initial attack and is tasked with numerous responsibilities.
First and foremost, the nozzle firefighter is considered one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs on the fire ground but it doesn't come without some punishment. This role is exposed to the most heat and fire than any other firefighter so having a solid understanding of fire behavior and fire suppression is vital for this role. Here are some quick tips for the nozzle firefighter.
Stretch the first length of hose and nozzle off the engine
Prior to making your initial attack, ensure the line is properly flaked out
Never forget to bleed the line after it's charged
Advance the line in coordination with the engine company officer and the rest of the crew
Keep the nozzle out in front. This makes easier motion when hitting the ceiling or sweeping the floor as well as advancement
Knock any fire as you advance to the main body of fire
Move out of the doorway when entering the fire room. By doing this it'll take some burden off of you as heat and smoke makes its way out
Stay low (duck walk, crawl or stay in a crouch position)
Know when, why and how to hydraulic vent and ensure it's in coordination with the truck and IC.
Please remember, the nozzle firefighter is responsible for not only their own crew but for all crews working inside the structure especially on the floor(s) above the fire so know your job and know it well. Never stop training.
Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.
About the Author
NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 18 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.