In-Line Nozzle Placement


For years, I have taught that, if possible, when laying out your attack line, the nozzle length should be placed in line with the home’s entry door. I still believe this to be the best method. There are two placement methods that can help you achieve this goal—nozzle-close and nozzle-away positioning. The nozzle-away method builds on the nozzle-close method while providing additional capabilities.

Parallel Layout

If you lay out the nozzle length parallel to the entry door, instead of perpendicular or “in line” to the hoseline, it will instantly rub against the door frame as it is advanced inside. When the nozzle length is laid out parallel to the home’s entry wall, it typically requires a hard turn through the entry door. When this occurs, the hoseline advance becomes more difficult and may require early firefighter intervention.


Quality Hoseline Management for a Better Forward Advance

This parallel layout often occurs when the nozzle firefighter approaches the front entrance from the side of the home. Doing battle with the home’s entry door frame friction point is no way to start an interior advance. You can reduce and avoid this first friction point with an in-line nozzle length setup.

In-Line Layout

Performing a good nozzle size-up is important so that you don’t overlook the potential for an in-line setup. An in-line nozzle length setup requires about half a hose length’s distance from the entry door for placement. The nozzle length is laid out so that it forms a U. The U indicates the hose length’s midpoint. Two equal portions of the hose form the sides of a U. Even if the hoseline has to bend near the U turn end because it cannot be completely laid out straight back, this is preferable to a parallel layout. Always try to set up your nozzle length so that it can advance without undue friction.

Nozzle-Close Placement

When carried as a section, the nozzle length is laid down close to the entry door and its center is pulled back from the entry door, forming a U in the hoseline. The nozzle and the first coupling set are adjacent to each other near the entry door. By placing the nozzle length in line with the entry door, your hose has a straight path into the occupancy (Figure 1, 1).

Figure 1. In-Line Nozzle Placement

In-Line Nozzle Placement. Figure by author

Figure by author.


Setting up the nozzle near to the doorway allows the following:

  1. A uniform setup that is easy to teach and remember.
  2. The lead length to be in position and available.
  3. A reliable nozzle length deployment because you can observe the hose layout for kinks.
  4. Less weight and drag because you’re not pulling the entire hoseline, only incremental portions of the nozzle length as you advance.
  5. Reduced concern regarding the impact of the door frame as a friction point because the hoseline is in line with it.
Nozzle-Away Placement

The nozzle-away method (Figure 1, 2-4) reverses the lead length’s layout to the doorway. Instead of the nozzle and the first coupling set being close to the entry door, the U end of the nozzle length is set close to the entry.

This requires the nozzle firefighter to set down the nozzle length away from the home’s entry door. The nozzle length is set down half a length out from the home’s entry door with its center pulled toward the entry door, forming a U. To maintain a complete working nozzle length, additional hose is placed along one side of the U laid toward the house.

With the nozzle and first coupling set away from the home’s entry door, your water application options increase and the nozzle length is still in line with the home’s entry door for interior advance.


Setting the nozzle away from the doorway allows for all the previous advantages of the nozzle near layout in addition to the following:

  1. The nozzle away from the doorway allows for an enhanced view of the building before entry.
  2. If a front side exterior attack is implemented, you can easily move the line close to the target window for water application.
  3. The nozzle can remain in place if you need to apply water to a distant point—e.g., an eave that fire is attacking.
  4. If you need to hit a higher floor prior to entry, you can do it easily because you are away from the building’s face.
  5. The away position increases stream reach and maximizes the stream’s scrub area.
  6. The nozzle team will be distant from the entry door and outside the immediately dangerous to life or health area.
  7. It avoids potential crowding of the entry area.
  8. You can better judge stream distance quality when bleeding the hoseline by aiming the stream toward a far corner of the house.
  9. It allows for stream breakover fire control of a distant area.

Positioning half a length back from the front of the fire building allows a better view and consequently a more comprehensive size-up. If you are near the entry door, it limits your ability to see the front and side conditions that may require water application.

When the nozzle is half a length back from the entry, it enhances your ability to move it toward other areas of the home because you don’t need to first move away from the entry door to see where to go and then reposition the hoseline; you just go there.

The nozzle-away position gives you a swing radius of half a length of hose to either side of your position to get close to an opening or side for stream application.

The nozzle-away position allows for greater stream reach and stream breakover for fire control over a large area and reduces the need to move the hoseline.

Setting the nozzle back half a length away from the doorway increases your stream’s scrub area, the area the stream can either hit directly or through breakover. If you are up close to the fire building, it reduces your scrub area. The nozzle-away placement maximizes the scrub area and breakover reach capability.

Although your ability to place water on the building surfaces or into it from the exterior is an option that this setup enhances, it also enhances interior attack. The away position will not interfere with bleeding the line or getting dressed and will not crowd the entryway. You can still attempt to see the interior layout by getting low and close to the entry door using this layout.

When the nozzle is laid out away from the building and is then turned on itself to go inside, the hoseline assists with that forward movement as it hinges at the U. On further advance, the nozzle length will move incrementally, reducing drag weight.

We are still using the core principles of having the nozzle length ready for rapid entry by placing it in line with the home’s entry. By placing the nozzle away from the doorway, you have more stream placement options and improved size-up capability and are ready for an in-line interior advance. The choice is always yours.

Ray McCormack is a lieutenant (ret.) and veteran of the Fire Department of New York. He delivered the keynote address at FDIC 2009, is the co-creator and editor of Urban Firefighter, and is an FDIC International instructor.

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