Too often we look to others for training; chiefs, officers, engineers, senior firefighters or a training division. How much work are you putting in to quality training opportunities for yourself? Getting creative with readily available equipment and yourself takes away excuses. When you don’t have to take a rig out of service or motivate and coordinate an entire crew to get involved these brief solos training sessions can improve efficiency and quality. Here is an example of a set up to improve 2 ½” attack line operations involving 1 firefighter and 1 hydrant.
Often referred to as “the big line”, operating the 2 ½” attack line efficiently and comfortably takes sound techniques and good body positioning, neither of which can be faked when dealing with this high caliber weapon. Working to master this tool means hours of practice with numerous failures and successes until you begin to create muscle memory, anticipation and adaptability. Proficiency will not come to you if your approach is one repetition and done as a part of a training group. Take responsibility for your skills and abilities and create individual training sessions where personal development is the focus. If you have a hydrant at your fire station you have can quickly and easily set up one of these sessions.
The Set Up
Step 1: Determine the hydrant pressure by using an inline pressure gauge from a stand pipe kit and gate valve, or by briefly hooking the hydrant up to an engine and reading the intake gauge. If the water system in your area is reliable record this pressure by marking it on the hydrant for future drills.
Step 2: Take the operating pressure for your selected nozzle, gallon per minute flow and friction loss per 100’ of 2 ½” hose to set up an attack line length which will be properly supported by hydrant pressure. Most hydrant systems will see little if any drop in pressure flowing a single line. This step of the set up process can also be repeated as a drill in itself to improve the understanding of hydraulic calculations by changing tip sizes and therefore hose length.
Step 3: Flake out the attack line to support the skill or drill you want to work on. At this point parking spots can become hallways, curbs, doorways and the sides of firehouses, well involved top floor apartment buildings. While you are flowing in a parking lot or on the pad of the station in reality the context of the scenario is only limited to the space between your ears.
Skills and Drills
When using low pressure nozzles like smooth bores or low pressure fog tips, the 2 ½” line can be a forward moving line even with reduced staffing. Looping and sitting on the larger handlines limits their range and versatility. This is fine for surround and drowns but if we are hoping to knock down and ultimately extinguish the body of fire we need to have continuous forward progress and good coverage with the stream. There are a variety of methods for maintaining a forward moving posture with the large diameter attack lines. Take advantage of this drill time to experiment with a various techniques for flowing the line.
For the knock down and advance with limited staffing it is best to utilize a hit and move process. Advancing while flowing with these high GPM lines as a single person compromises stream placement and fatigues the nozzle firefighter. The best cadence for this operation is; set up, flow, shut down, advance. With the heavy stream and long reach of the 2 ½” attack line these brief pauses between attacks to help you advance can be done safely under most conditions and help us maintain forward progress on the body of fire. As you can see in photo 9 dragging the nozzle by the bale and a loop at the first coupling we move a very capable attack platform of 50’ of hose forward with each advance. (Right hand is through the bale of the nozzle keeping it closed on the drag, left is on first coupling back from the nozzle.)
Creating a good visual gauge of stream reach is an important part of drilling with the 2 ½”. This will help establish knowns for you as a firefighter at the next fire. Pick a variety of targets and objectives to work on stream placement and hoseline movement. With each of these positions start to record mentally stream break over in regards to a given location so you can start to gauge where an effective fire stream can be delivered. In photo 10 you see a high quality stream is hitting the 2nd floor window and more than likely would hit the ceiling of that room. In photo 11 you can see that distancing the nozzle from the door allows for great coverage with minimal movement at the nozzle. Increased coverage with reduced movement at the nozzle is important to limit the effects of nozzle reaction on the single line operator.
If you become tired of time on the nozzle, you can always improve your back up or door man skills by moving hose at various points. In this set up with 200 feet of hose on the ground there is no shortage of opportunity to move the line. (Use the curb to simulate pulling hose in at a door way using a row technique.)
I believe the proverb is “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” If at your department you depend on others to sustain your appetite for training but you are the type of person reading this magazine on your own accord, you are bound to starve. Instructor certifications, lesson plans, power points and a full company are not required to get out and train. I hope that this quick article shows that just a little initiative and creativity is all you need. Hose work is one of the blue collar fundamentals of our trade so head out to the hydrant with some hose and become a do it yourselfer today, you never know when it will pay off.