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We are continuing our look at engine company operations with getting water to and on the fire. Last time we looked at the steps taken and needed for getting water from the hydrant or water supply to the truck. As basic as this skill is, it is a vital skill to know and to be proficient with so that interruption of suppression efforts is reduced. Now let’s look at the second part of the process evaluation of our “roll in” drill for getting water to and on the fire: advancing the preconnect handline.
Most fire trucks in service today will have at least two preconnected hoselines ready to go when needed. The main purpose of the preconnect hoseline is to reduce the amount of time it takes to take hose off of the truck, roll it out or deploy it out, hook it up to the pump discharge outlet, and then charge the line with water. With the preconnect hoseline, it is just a matter of pulling the hoseline from the hosebed and flaking it out getting it ready for water. These two steps are the focus of our process evaluation for this segment of our drill.
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With respect to the preconnect hoseline, there are a few options available for loading the hose. There are variations of the flat load with perhaps a loop or two for easy pulling, or perhaps the Minuteman load with easy pull off and easy deployment. The basic hose load is the flat load with no loops or variations. As you can see in photo 1, the basic flat load will have all the hose ends lined up at the edge of the hosebed. Lying on top of the hose load will be the nozzle. Advancing this basic type of hose load can be done in one of two ways: the right (efficient) way or the wrong (long) way.
The wrong way is what you will see pictured in photo 2 where one firefighter will grab the nozzle and start to walk towards the door of the building or to the fire location. What is happening here is a spaghetti noodle being produced. If a preconnect hoseline contains 200 feet of hose, this will be a very long piece of spaghetti being pulled from the truck just like a spaghetti noodle being produced from a press. This style of hose advancement wastes time and resources.
What ends up happening is the nozzle firefighter pulls the hose off with the rest of the hose being pulled by either the backup firefighter or the driver/pump operator. By doing it in this method, the hose takes a while for it to be deployed from off the truck and it takes a while for it to be readied for advancement into the structure. Also, at the door of entry for the attack, the nozzle will be there along with a straight line of hose following behind. This is very inefficient as it will take great effort to advance the line into the building. It will take more work to pull the hoseline in with you because you are pulling the weight of the hose as well as the weight of the water in the hose. Working against the hose advancement is friction, which is produced from the ground on the hose.
The efficient or right way: as you can see in photo 1, the flat load has many loops at the end of the folds. These little loops are perfect for our fingers to fit inside. Using our gloved hand, we can insert three of four fingers into a loop each and pull a half portion of the load off in one pull. Once we pull it off, we throw it to our left on the ground. We then go back up to the hose load, reinsert our gloved fingers into the remaining folds, and pull the rest of the load off the truck. We then throw this section of the load on our right-hand side onto the ground.
In two quick movements, we have the entire hose load on the ground ready for flaking out. Now lying on the ground with the nozzle are the couplings of the line. Depending on the number of hose lengths you have packed for the preconnect, you will find either three or four couplings on the ground: two on one side and two or one on the other side. We then grab the nozzle from the one side and look for couplings on the other side. We grab it and then start to walk towards the door for entry.
By doing this we are ensuring that the entire hoseline will be flaked out by the time we get to the door of the structure and ensuring that we have the nozzle and one coupling there. Depending on which coupling you grabbed, you will have either 100 feet or 50 feet of hose with you at the door. This nozzle/coupling combination at the door allows for a more efficient and easier time for advancing the line into the structure. Marking the middle coupling in your hose load will help with ensuring you grab the middle coupling all the time for maximum effort.
When the hose has been stretched to the door, it needs to be flaked out so that there are no kinks in the line. This is where the backup firefighter can help. As they walk up to the nozzle firefighter, they can check the line and flake it out. At this point we are waiting and ready for water.
In photo 3, you will see an example of how we do not want to flake out our hose in relation to the building orientation. If we are heading into the front door of that house, we want to have our hose lined up in the same orientation as the building entrance. Try pulling/advancing a hose around a corner from the very start of your advancement–it does not work. It will only work against you and fatigue you quickly. Line up your hose in the direction of your travels and then you will find advancing it will be easier. Next time we will look at getting water from the truck to the nozzle and then making our entry to get water to and on the fire.
Mark van der Feyst has been in the fire service since 1999 and is a full-time firefighter in Ontario, Canada. He is an international instructor teaching in Canada, the United States, and India, and at FDIC. Van der Feyst is a local level suppression instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy. He is also the lead author of Residential Fire Rescue (Fire Engineering Books & Video).
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