By John "Skip" Coleman
Life was simpler when I first started firefighting. We had we had four sizes of fire hose to choose from to do everything we needed done (not including hard and soft suction hose). On the back of the engine we had 3-inch, 2 ½-inch, 1 ½-inch, and booster line. You knew you had a worker when the first-in officer told another engine company to 'Lay Two" (It was a really big fire when you were told to go back to the hydrant after you laid in to "pump from the plug.") Water was not an issue in Toledo and water damage was almost never considered, nor was water conservation due to insufficient water.
When I was a young lieutenant, we had a working fire in a yacht club along the Maumee river. The first line pulled was a booster line, which apparently was not the appropriate size line to pull for the amount of fire. To make a long story short, after the fire was out the department took off all booster line from all front-line engines. As you can surmise, this was not the first time booster line was pulled as an initial attack line when it should not have been.
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John "Skip" Coleman retired as assistant chief from the Toledo (OH) Department of Fire and Rescue. He is a technical editor of Fire Engineering. a member of the FDIC Educational Advisory Board; and author of Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer (Fire Engineering, 1997), Managing Major Fires (Fire Engineering, 2000), Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer, Second Edition (Fire Engineering, 2008) and Searching Smarter (Fire Engineering 2011) and 2011 recipient of the FDIC Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award.