A quick, efficient placement of hose often makes the difference between a good knockdown and a bad day. So, anything we can do to make hoselays simple and easy is good for the community and good for us. In this article, I’ll discuss a couple of tricks of the trade that increase ease of use and flexibility when it comes to hoseline placement as well as some operating tips to get water on the fire faster and safer.
Handling the Bumper Line
The bumper load is typically used for trash fires and car fires, and includes 100 feet of 1¾” hose with a 7/8″ smooth-bore nozzle. The load begins as two “doughnut rolls” connected together. To deploy, the firefighter drops the hose rolls onto the ground, grabs the “metal” (couplings and nozzle) and walks away. The hose uncoils easily and efficiently.
Extending the 1¾” Handline
This load is carried with an extra section (50 feet) of 1¾” in case any of our 1¾” attack lines need to be extended. To add the extra roll of 1¾”, we first break apart our nozzle that features 1½” threads. We then shut off the valve, unscrew the nozzle tip, insert the extra hose and we’re back in action. This system of extending the line simplifies communications because we don’t have to shut down the line and then recharge it once the extra roll is connected.
Prepping the LDH for the Plug
To finish our 5″ supply hose, we pre-attach main steamer adapters. The hydrant bag is Velcro-strapped to the hose, and 10–12 feet of LDH is stacked and held together with the hydrant bag and nylon webbing. This allows us to pull the hose off the engine without having to do any climbing. We then drop the nylon loop over the hydrant and drive away. A medic crew or next-due engine can complete the hydrant connection.
This set-up also allows us to use a carabiner to secure the LDH to the engine, which helps prevent the very dangerous and embarrassing possibility of laying hose down the road unknowingly.
The “Yard Lay”
The “yard lay” as we call it, is 200 feet of 2½” hose connected to a three-way gated wye, and it’s typically used for handline-size fires that are farther away than our normal 200′ preconnects can reach. To put it in play, a firefighter pulls the yard lay and waits for another firefighter to arrive with a disconnected crosslay or bumper line. The driver/operator then charges the yard lay, and once the crew attaches the crosslay, they can open the corresponding valve on the gated wye. This three-way gate is more versatile because it will not only supply a second 1¾”, but it can also accept a 2½” line.
Where to Place the Back-Up Line
During the first hectic minutes of a firefight, engine company officers (COs) may have to take the initiative if command has given no specific orders. Below are some high-priority placement considerations when deciding where the back-up should go.
- Stand by on the outside to back up the first line. If the first line is handling the seat of the fire on the first floor or the lowest level of the fire, stage in a position that allows you the best possible use of the back-up line, if needed.
- Protect any egress pathways, such as stairs, and/or protect searching firefighters.
- Position above the seat of the fire and extinguish any extension, if needed.
Safety Issues & Reminders for the Hose Team
A firefighter can sustain a second-degree burn in 60 seconds if in inside an atmosphere that’s 160 degrees F; they can sustain the same burn in 30 seconds at 180 degrees F. Common areas that are burned include the wrist, neck and ears.
When ceiling temperatures are at 1,000 degrees F, the steam generated by the fire stream is around 500 degrees F. In short, one breath of this super-heated air can kill you.
To avoid such dangerous situations, always wear your PPE properly, know the warning signs of flashover—severe heat with no visible fire—and maintain situational awareness (SA) at all times.
Other safety tips include:
- Hit the fire from outside the room and then move in.
- Time your water application with horizontal ventilation to keep the steam/fire/smoke from blowing back onto you.
- Position the attack line so any significant wind is at your back.
- When approaching the fire area, crawl with one leg extended out in front of you to help sound the floor and feel for any holes or obstacles.
- Never crawl past a fire.
- Never let the fire get behind you.
Hoseline placement is important, but should also be kept simple and uniform to ensure efficiency and safety—plus, firefighters don’t typically support complicated or a cumbersome hose loads. Simple is safe—and that’s best for everyone.