By Brain Zaitz
Hose is the most basic and fundamental tool of the fire service; it comes in various diameters and lengths all based on its fireground functionality. The most commonly used fireground hose is the preconnect—often called a “jiffy,” a lead-off line, or a handline—is the line most often pulled for fire attack. This line varies in diameter, from 1½- to 2½-inch and features a variety of nozzles, pressures, and flows to meet the needs for that specific area and fire company. The other aspect to these lines is how they are loaded or stacked on the apparatus.
Stacking or loading of hose is a means to store the hose as well as prepare it for use (yes, you should stack hose so that it is prepared to be deployed). With that said, put thought into the load so that it matches the apparatus, staffing, and commonly found fireground situations such as a short vs. long stretch. Do not just load it and leave it; pull, stretch, and flow hose as a means to determine the best method for deployment and to create muscle memory for the crews on the most routine fireground functions.
There are various methods to stack or load the hose. The most traditional and easiest is the flat load. The flat load is loaded across the bed length, stacking one on top of another. This mimics loads found on large-diameter supply lines, making it easy to correlate all loads together. Although the load is simple, it does have its drawbacks, such as the how line must be pulled and not shouldered. Likewise, this load has a tendency to turn into “spaghetti” near the truck.
The triple flat is a variation of the flat load; the entire line length is laid out and stacked one on top of another, breaking the length into one-third of the total line length. This is all done on the ground prior to loading. Once stacked, the line is loaded the same as the flat load. Here, you can deploy the load in shorter stretch situations, and you can empty the bed quicker. The downside with this load is that you need a clean, dry area one-third the length of the total line length to load the hose, and you need an area one-third of your line length to deploy it. For example, a 200-foot preconnect will need a deployment range of approximately 66 feet for total deployment, which is not always the case in short stretch situations.
Another variation on the flat load is the minuteman load, which is similar to the flat load. However, the line length is split in half; one half is loaded traditionally and the other half (or the “bundle”) is loaded opposite that, starting with the male coupling or nozzle. This load allows you to deploy the line quickly in long and short stretches, with the bundle now able to be flaked off for additional length or dropped and split for charging the line at the deployment site. You can load this line on one-, two-, or three-section wide beds with minor modifications. The drawbacks here are that it changes in the loading and deploying, but it improves overall efficiency.
Hose and, more specifically the preconnect, is the most common fire attack tool used in the fire service. It does not matter what load you chose, just make sure you and crew are proficient in it use. Do not allow this essential tool to be on your truck without being efficient with it. Practice with various hose loads, deploy your lines, flow water, and ensure that your crew and apparatus are ready for the next working fire.
Download this training bulletin as a PDF HERE (3.91 MB)
Brian Zaitz is a 15-year student of the fire service and the Captain-Training Officer with the Metro West Fire Protection District. Zaitz is also an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC , an instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy, and the Board of Director with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He has several degrees including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelor’s in fire science management, and master’s in human resource development. Zaitz is also a credentialed chief training officer through the Center for Public Safety Excellence as well as a student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.