Archive For The “Training” Category

Hose Bundle Hook Up

Hose Bundle Hook Up

A variety of hose bundles and bundled finishes are used in engine companies across the country to provide versatility in stretches. Straight loads such as the triple layer can be quickly deployed but are often limited in applications for stretches that are beyond a standard “curb to the door”. For this piece I will show how to simply build and utilize a 100’ modified minuteman bundle to finish your hose loads.

The 100’ modified minuteman finish provides a hose package that can be shoulder loaded and pre-connected to a flat load of like sized hose or a wyed leader line for alley stretches, extended reach or reverse lays. It can also be broken from a pre-connected load, or stored by itself to be taken forward and connected to an existing wye or dropped down from an upper floor on an exterior vertical stretch. ???????????????????????????????

Some complaints about bundles versus a flat or straight load is that they are too difficult to build and that they don’t always deploy the same way. If too much variance in building them is allowed these statements are true. If hose bundles are built by a firefighter sitting on the ground and snaking hose back and forth with no parameters other than their leg the result will be tall firefighters making long bundles and short firefighters building short bundles. A few years ago we began to use a 6’ roof hook as the base for constructing the modified minuteman bundles and as you will see it improves consistency and has operational benefits.

IMG_7141Using the 6’ hook as a baseline, the bundle will be 6’ long. When shoulder loaded, the hang down on chest and back will be less than 3’; a length easily managed by even our shortest firefighters. The 6 foot mark also allows a perfect split in the bundle at the 50’ mid-point if you are with a department that purchases 50’ hose sections. This split at the coupling allows for that first coupling to advance with the nozzle on the first push over a threshold or around a stair well.

IMG_7115Set the nozzle at the tip of the hook and run the hose on edge back. At the other end make a fold and bring the hose back on itself to the tip again. Do this twice, taking up a total of 24’ of hose.The next fold back from the nozzle will run about a foot long, return it back to the nozzle creating a loop and now consumes 38’ of hose.

IMG_7117Now finish with a standard down and back fold using the final 12’ of hose and finishing the coupling near the nozzle. Shift this coupling slightly behind the nozzle if needed to provide a compact load.

IMG_7152The method is then reversed with the second section of hose so that from the back of the bundle from left to right you observe 2 folds, loop, two folds, loop, two folds. At the front you observe nozzle, 3 folds, coupling section and 3 folds. The finished bundle can be loaded loose, tied or strapped with lightweight tape or Velcro straps.

IMG_7150Drop the bundle with the nozzle to the objective and remove the straps.Grab the two loops and stretch back until the bundle is opened up.

IMG_7142Walk up the line to the nozzle, dressing as necessary and call for water.With a properly built bundle, deployment is simple and clean with 100’ of hose payed out in 25’ of space with the nozzle and first coupling at the door. Slight changes in the flake out can further reduce this distance or adjust to the setting.

IMG_7140I would not be surprised to hear that there are 10 different versions of the minuteman bundle alone and probably hundreds of different hose bundle options. This post is in no way, “the way” but it is a way. I am limited on the number of pictures I can insert in this blog post but I hope that this is a clear enough presentation of one option to lead your engine company to consider getting hooked up with a hose bundle.


Misapplication of the Trench Cut

Misapplication of the Trench Cut

TrenchpicThe classic trench cut shown above has not changed by definition only by misapplication. The trench cut was developed during the 1960’s in New York city during an exceptionally busy fire era. The trench component of the trench cut is to create a fire break and provide access for fire streams not to ventilate the cockloft. The tactic was brought outside the city when the first edition of John Norman’s Fire Officers Handbook was published. At about the same time John Norman published his book, John Mittendorf also published a book on truck company operations which describes “strip ventilation”. Strip ventilation is essentially expanding the louvered cuts or adjusting your louvered cuts to the roof layout. Strip ventilation is a ventilation opening for the purpose of venting.

I can think of at least a handful of fires at our department where these two tactics have been misunderstood, misapplied and in the end been either entirely ineffective or drawn fire and compounded problems. I hope this brief review can help clear some things up.trench2picThe Trench Cut

Trench Cut Order of Operations
1. Large vent hole over fire area.
2.Observation cuts between fire area and determined trench location.
3. Cut trench at narrow point and pull ceiling but do not pull trench.
4. Position hose lines underneath and above
5.When fire shows from observation cuts indicating spread to the trench. Open the trench and operate hoselines.

This picture and points come directly from the Norman text. It outlines the requirements for a trench cut operation. Note that the first order of business is a large vent hole over the fire area. The main vent over the fire area may be burn through or a hole cut by firefighters. Observation cuts are placed between the main hole and the trench to provide indication of fire travel. Lastly, we have the trench cut as the fire break in an area which hose lines can be safely staffed and operated. The trench cut is not to be opened until the observation cuts are indicating the fire has overwhelmed the main vent and is moving towards the trench. In these situations with the common cockloft, early opening of the trench will potentially draw fire. Since the tactic is primarily used in tenements of H or E type construction that provided “choke points” the next question usually comes up. Since we don’t have H or E type tenement buildings when would we use trench cuts? Any type of flat roof on a “winged” building will work however the most common application in suburban departments is limiting extension in strip-malls. Keep in mind with the lack of a narrow point this becomes extremely manpower intensive and time consuming. It is nearly impossible for most departments to accomplish in a timely manner with today’s staffing.

Trench Cuts are not a Peaked Roof Tactic

peakedtrenchIn the top left picture we can see fire burning through the ridge with nothing showing at the eaves. This is a great picture to demonstrate the funnel or heat trap effect of peaked roofs and how it accelerates horizontal fire spread at the ridge. Keep this in mind that fire spread through the peaked roof is not consistent. Fire will travel the entire space at the ridge long before lower points in the field become involved.

On the bottom we see the “trench cut” crews created in the roof to prevent fire spread. Knowing what we know about peaked roofs and seeing the picture on the left it should be clear that the further we get from the ridge when venting attic spaces more time and energy is being wasted.

The firefighters operating on the right have made a lot of cuts however their ventilation opening is very narrow overall. Based on fire behavior and building construction we know that the ridge will be hit the hardest and fastest by fire spread. A narrow opening like this at the high point will be quickly overrun. And you put firefighters at unnecessary risk cutting down at the eve/edge of the roof for no gain.

To prevent horizontal fire spread in peaked roof construction a trench cut is not required. The entire deck of a flat roof is the high point of the cockloft therefore a wall to wall cut is required. In peaked roof construction the peak is the high point and the only place that needs addressing. Here is where the Strip Vent comes in.

PeakedstripWhen we encounter fire in the attic of a peaked roof occupancy and fire spread is the main concern the most appropriate tactic and efficient use of resources is a strip vent . Put firefighters on the ridge at a point you have determined you want to stop fire travel. This point should be far enough from current fire location that the tactic can be completed but not at a point that you will draw fire to a location you are trying to salvage. Open up along the ridge with an appropriate sized hole for the volume of the attic space. This may end up being 4×12 in occupancies like the hotel above.

798louverWhile the “7,9,8” or “Coffin” cuts are typically associated with flat roofs they work great in peaked roof strip ventilation because of the louver and vent cut process that is easily expanded to meet the situation. By making a large opening at the high point the fire/heat/smoke traveling along the ridge will be released up and out this opening killing the horizontal momentum and stopping fire spread. The 7,9,8 cut is also easily expanded for flat roof strip ventilation as seen in the picture below.

Final Notes

There is certainly more to this topic than is addressed in this short post. I know that misapplication of the trench cut on peaked roofs has occurred at our department and from pictures I have seen from around the country this confusion is not isolated. Do not force a tactic to fit. If we consider our goal (to stop fire spread) and take into consideration fire behavior and building construction the appropriate tactic will be clear.


Search and Rescue Separation

Search and Rescue Separation

Reposted from May 2011 on

In my academy we were not taught the art of search, instead we did “search and rescue” drills. When we entered a building be it the drill tower or an acquired structure we would immediately start our search as we were being trained to do. Starting off right hand or left hand; from the front door we begin with the sole purpose of finding a victim or reporting primary clear. The monotony of the drills was occasionally broken when instructors would “really hide” a victim or baby and embarrass you when they were missed. To prevent future embarrassment the next time you went in you searched with an even greater focus (tunnel vision) on finding that baby.

A few months later I am assigned to the tower and a fire drops. The new guy excitement is high. I hear the Chief tell my officer “upon your arrival you got ‘search and rescue’” I know i am going to work. All that is running through my new firefighter mind is “are we going to go right or left? (SEARCH) and, this is the real world so I better damn well not miss any victims (RESCUE).” Herein lies the problem.

My initial training left me short sighted and it has taken years of experience, study and training to change that.

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We search for more than just victims. We search for fire, extension, egress, refuge, landmarks, any and all information that we can gather through our senses. The more information we have the better our situational awareness and the more efficient fire ground operations become through relaying interior intelligence. We can’t let this ‘walk before we crawl’ training happen anymore, teaching our new firefighters how to search before we tell them what they are looking for. “Search and Rescue” is not a single operation in fact it is two separate disciplines and must be presented as such if we are going to create professionals. Of course the priority of search is life and the greatest emphasis should be placed on the rapid location and removal of victims. Unfortunately, by training from our first exposure with a single objective lends itself to tunnel vision and puts us at a greater risk. Teach them to search, Show them search, Make them search before we ever introduce them to “Rescue”.

DSC00697“Rescue” is the removal of victims from hazards. Rescue training and teaching must be separated from search as much as possible, especially in initial training where search techniques are still being developed. Rescue training should be focused in carries, drags and removal techniques. By separating rescue from search we take away one of the most distracting words/operations in the fire service.

Today’s fire service training programs include “stress inoculation” like mask confidence drills and maze training all aimed at improving the situational awareness of firefighters under stressful conditions. Our search training should echo this thought process by truly preparing our firefighters for search operations.

FDTN Teach Them Search
Search is a high risk high reward operation it is also a heavily researched and reported tactic. We ne
ed to give it the time it deserves in a classroom before we stumble around in buildings. Provide new members with a base through a solid education of search types, targets and methods. Initial teaching should include resources like these: More Aggressive Searches – Pressler , FDTN Fireground Search , Size Up Before You Search – Rhodes. Use real world experience to teach our firefighters not just a testable text. Before they are in gear, present and discuss topics such as size-up from building layout to window sill height and help build the slide trays between the ears.

Show Them Seasearchrch
We all know wha
t we will see if you tell a group of recruits to search a room without any further explanation. Avoid this waste of time that a line of ducks and flailing tools creates. If you want them to do it right then demonstrate it right. Put on a clinic and have them follow your search. Tell them how you are judging distance, land-marking, taking note of flooring type and door swings, all while they are observing your positioning and technique. Explain why you might stop your search to pop off some base board or a heat register to check for extension. They must be shown the seamless stream of movement and thought. Without this example search is little more than pokes and prods and yes or no victim confirmations.

Make Them Search
Operations are the function of knowledge and tools. Start off small and build from there, keeping the fundamentals consistent. Some people would view Vent Enter Search as an advanced drill. I believe it is the best place to begin your initial search training because it is perfect for forging the fundamentals. 1. VES stresses the importance of searching from the greatest threat out by sending firefighters first to control the door. 2. VES drives home the importance of knowing your egress. 3. VES challenges our minds to consider room layout from the outside so we can anticipate from our entry point (the window) which wall has the door I want to control. 4. Due to the limited area a VES search is typically performed by a single member. This helps with initial skill and technique development because each member is relying on themselves for orientation and quality of search 5. Finally, due to the small area being searched repetitions will be high which accelerates technique development and skill confidence. 

IPhone 086IPhone 085     IPhone 087

Once the firefighters are successfully demonstrating to you the movements and methods you demonstrated to them in the single room search, you can then expand to fire floor and floor above search drills. At the end of the day or week when firefighters are consistently performing quality searches make them provide the reports to reinforce the fact that they truly understand the totality of the mission. “Command from T10 – primary search on the 2nd floor is negative for victims and extension. Smoke conditions are moderate and windows have been left intact.”

I just want to conclude by making the statement that I know this is not a new message. It is very similar to that which Chief Rhodes presents in the article that is linked above and so many others out there are also communicating. For me it is the fact that our department is currently developing a class of recruits brought it to mind. I wish to ensure that they understand that search is an art and not just a question to be answered yes or no. I know that the counterpoint to this article will come from this community. Especially due to the facts that rescue techniques, tools and practices are always a hot topic. I welcome it for my own improvement and the fact is that this is simply my opinion and not factual material that can be proven. But before the barrage starts here is my message in black and white. I don’t wish to downplay the importance of Rescue training. I just believe that for initial instruction, optimizing understanding and skill development search and rescue must be separated.

$14.00 Forcible Entry Prop for Acquired Structures

$14.00 Forcible Entry Prop for Acquired Structures

Vacants or acquired structures can be outstanding training opportunities as they stand but a few simple adds can help you get a few more repetitions. There are commercially available products like Force Plates or you can get creative with some standard construction materials and build your own. Here is one of the Do It Yourself options I found that works pretty well.

2- Simpson Strong-Tie Z-Max 16 in. Heavy Duty Strap bent to shape in a bench vise


24 – 1 3/8″ deck screws and as much 3/4″ plywood or wood shelving found in the building ripped down to 2″strips as you care to use


Pinning the Line

Pinning the Line

ANDY21996 was the year I entered the fire service as a volunteer, this was also the first year I read an article by Andy Fredericks. In his 1996 2 ½” Handline article for Fire Engineering Andy laid a foundation of support for an incredibly efficient weapon which at the time and in years following was largely falling out of favor in the American fire service. I would encourage you to revisit his piece as it bears repeating and expands on those topics which he explains much better than I could.

 Within that article Andy presented not only reasons but also techniques for making the 2 ½” handline a more readily available weapon for your engine company and one of those techniques was “pinning the line”. As I am sure anyone who has had to have the 2 ½” handline debate, staffing is one of the first hurdles to overcome.

When you move up from an 1 ¾” attack line with the 15/16tip and a flow of 185 GPM at 50 PSI (nozzle reaction of 66lbs) to the 2 ½” attack line with a 1 1/8” tip and a flow of 266 GPM at 50 Psi your nozzle reaction is also increased to around 96lbs. This jump in nozzle reaction force of about 30 pounds theoretically requires 3 firefighters on the line to manage those forces. This theory is based on the works of Paul Grimmwood on the abilities of firefighters to manage nozzle reaction. Since most handlines in the American fire service are being operated by two firefighters this becomes a quick ticket out on the big line……”we don’t have the staffing”

pining the linePhoto by Matt Daly

The first time I saw the technique of “pinning the line” was in that 1996 article in this photo by Matt Daly. Andy explains the method as the backup man pinning the hose to the ground using his hands and knees which allows the nozzle man to “freely operate and move the nozzle without the undue stress of the nozzle reaction.”

“Pinning the line” is a method to direct the nozzle reaction forces into the ground or walls instead of the muscles and frame of the firefighters. By applying this method we can counter reaction forces with technique instead of man power.


328 GPM from the 1 1/4″ Tip managed by a single firefighter

Over the years I have learned various forms of this technique. In 2005 while in Boise Idaho, Jay Commella and Daryl Liggins of the Oakland Fire Department presented a technique of pinning the line as a single firefighter by using your knee in place of the backup man. The key is ensuring that you maintain plenty of hose in front of you so small movements at the base (you) will keep the now common foundation and operator  solid while getting maximum stream movement and use. After sharing this technique with several crews and groups I began to hear chatter that the knee on the hose method was “fine for the outside but not for the interior firefight”.

IMG_4625                                 IMG_4617

To counter that argument I present the fact that my overall profile in using a knee on the hose or traditional stance with the line is relatively the same, however if you insist on traditional stream positioning you can still utilize methods of pinning the line to absorb reaction forces.

Here the stream is maintained upward and the line directly behind so that energy is transmitted down the line and into the ground.

backThis is a look at a method specifically for the interior where the line is brought through the legs and pinned to an interior wall to take the reaction forces off the nozzle man.

photo15Finally we are back to the most traditional of attacks, two on the line pushing in. The backup man supporting directly behind the nozzle position by taking the nozzle reaction to the friction and collection point of the ground. All the while 250 to 325GPM is being thrown as far as 60’ ahead of this two person crew.

pinning the lineEffective – Efficient –  High Caliber – Safe

The 2 1/2″ Two Minute Drill

The 2 1/2″ Two Minute Drill

Here is a simple drill to bring single firefighter hose work together (see 1 + 1 = 2 1/2″ for a quick set up option) When drilling with the 2 1/2″, good technique and body mechanics are critical because it will not allow you to take short cuts or power through like the 1 3/4″.  Yes it is more work but the increased weight and challenge it presents will build better skills and make that 1 3/4″ you typically stretch just that much easier.


Pro Bar and Maxximus Rex Comparison

Pro Bar and Maxximus Rex Comparison

IPhone 332Bob Farrell shipped one of the first production Maxximus Rexxs out here and we were able to put it through some work at the Irons and Ladders class during the South Metro Fire Learning Symposium this October. Since then I received my own Maxximus Rexx and a Lock Slot 8 from Fire Hooks Unlimited and had the opportunity to put a little more work into these new tools. While there is still plenty of work to be done I think we have had enough time with these to pass on a few thoughts and comments. I will admit I had some reservations about any changes to the near perfected Pro-Bar but in the end I have been pleasantly surprised and found that overall the Maxximus is a great bar with some outstanding features that provide firefighters more options.

Before I talk about the Maxximus and Pro Bar I’ll hit on the Lock Slot 8 There is no debate or doubt here, the Lock Slot 8 is an outstanding axe. Well balanced for striking, a steel that strikes extremely well with the halligan and the polished finish and taper of the head is a great capture or driving wedge. The off the shelf notched head is well designed and placed marrying the halligan snugly and tight to the handle with no strap needed. Irons IPhone 533








lock slot 8 2 LockSlot4









Now on to the Maxximus Rex and how it compares to the Pro Bar. There are features which are improvements over current generation Pro-Bars and there are also areas where these options compromise the strengths of a standard Pro-Bar.

IPhone 537The Maxximus Rex comes with a rubber wrap however I prefer my halligan clean so I cut the grip off. You can see that side by side the main difference in the bars is the wider adze and the incorporated Rex tool. This right here is where the trade is made.

IPhone 496As through the lock training and technique is expanding more and more firefighters are discovering the speed at which doors can be defeated by pulling locks however it is typically done with a tool in addition to your standard irons, like Rex, Lil Rex, Adze Rex, Truckman’s Tool, S&D Tool, A-Tool, K-Tool and so on and so on. The Maxximus Rex provides that lock puller built in and it is very efficient. The design of it is very slim which slides in well behind the locks and the single piece forged bar wastes no energy in transfer to the lock and it fails locks quicklydeadboltThe trade off for the benefit of the lock puller is the wider adze which reduces the mechanical advantage of “camming” the adze. A standard adze is about 2″ wide where as the Maxximus is closer to 3″. On the 30″ bar this changes the mechanical advantage in this technique from 15:1 to about 10:1 or 33%. If this is difficult to think through here are two videos to demonstrate. The door was set with the same resistance wood and performed multiple times to confirm the difference was not just variations in the wood. Scroll down and hit play on them at the same time.

As the videos show the standard adze fails the prop with much less effort. This difference also presents when using the tool in this fashion to create a gap using the door crush technique on an outward swinging door. The thinner adze does set in the gap better initially than a standard adze however due to the lack of taper and curvature on the Maxximus adze it takes more outward pull on the bar with the strikes then the standard adze which tends to more naturally work around the door as it is driven in.

IPhone 526 IPhone 525The best feature of the Maxximus is the out of the box tuning of the bar and the harder steel. I believe that these will be transferred to next generation Pro-Bars as well but I have no idea when you will see it. The forks are very well done, and you’ll find depth marks on both the adze and the forks from the forge.

IPhone 336 Pro Bar and Maxximus Pro Bar and MaxximusSo what is my final verdict? If you are a department with little money for additional through the lock tools and mainly just engines, or a department running 3 piece holligan bars the Maxximus is a great option. If you are a department that has well tuned Pro-Bars and through the lock tools it will be difficult for you to see a need to replace a good thing with a very very close second. That said I am glad I had the opportunity to give it a try, I really like what it brings to the table and I won’t be giving it back or giving up our standard Pro Bars so in short look for us to be running both. IPhone 333

Ladders Up

Ladders Up

Last weekend was the second meeting with tLaddershe crew from Irons and Ladders out of Colorado Springs. I have had the good fortune of working next to these guys over the last few years here in the state of Colorado but most recently we have been working together to develop a solid ground ladder program.

A day of throwing ladders, talking techniques, tools and teaching methods at the Castle Rock Fire Department Training Center with Quint 155 moved us even closer to the final product. A few more meet ups and drill days and the program should be ready to pilot.

It is an exciting thing to be a part of. Irons and Ladders has already established an outstanding and Nationally recognized forcible entry program, pairing it with a ground ladders class will provide a top level two day truck company foundations course.

counter balance                       Double hook 16 CRFD Ladders                       16 versus 14

Conventional Methods for Defeating Window Bars

Conventional Methods for Defeating Window Bars

In most settings window bars are more deterrent than actual fortification.  There are places where window bars and coverings can be substantially built and designed as an obstacle, for example commercial occupancies or vacant property systems.  For the most part window bars and coverings on occupied residential and multi-family dwellings are designed to intimidate criminals from an attempt.  We are not criminals and we should not be intimidated.

I hesitated with this post for two reasons; the first is that window bars have been covered in detail by several others recently.  The second is that when it comes to window bars and coverings the styles and attachment types are endless and any effort to cover it is simply the tip of the iceberg.

I am a fortunate because my first alarm resources include proactive RIT crews, truck companies and a heavy rescue with a variety of tools, saws and task/equipment familiar firefighters for forcible entry duties.  The presence of window bars on arrival is not much of a curve ball for our operations. I say I am fortunate because this is not the case in every department.

For a lightly staffed or volunteer department that only runs and equips engine companies the presence of window bars at a working fire may be seen as a significant problem. This holds especially true if training and lack of education has programmed them to believe that saws are the primary method for defeating them.

Even with a well-equipped and staffed response there is the potential that the first arriving engine finds an immediate rescue behind the window bars and no time to wait for a saw.

Gresham Oregon on November 29th 2012 – Photo: Greg Muhr

Please see the link to the downloadable PDF as an introduction to widow bar and covering types.  This is not all inclusive! The document covers some types and some methods.  Due to the variety of window bars and coverings, I highly recommend you use this document as a template for you to size up and discuss methods for your area not as the resource for your area.

As the foundational message of forcible entry is “try before you pry” I hope you take from this “try before you cut”.  When you encounter window bars and coverings it is a good idea to bring a forcible entry saw with you or call for one. In the meantime or in the absence of a saw, a quick size up may reveal to you that conventional methods and standard tools can defeat them.

Click the link below for a downloadable PDF training document:

Conventional Methods for Defeating Window Bars

1 + 1 = 2 1/2″

1 + 1 = 2 1/2″

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 aPhoto1Brushs “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

Photo2Brush      Photo3Brush



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.

Photo4BrushStep 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.


Photo6BrushStep 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.

Photo7BrushPhoto8BrushFor 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. Photo9Brush(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. Photo12Brush(Use the curb to simulate pulling hose in at a door way using a row technique.)

Photo13Brush(Advancing loops into the first floor of the tower) Photo14Brush(Feeding hose in)

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.

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