By Tom Kiurski
Basic firefighter skills are a great place to start with training drills. They may be a small part of the overall training evolution, or the entire training evolution may be training on basic skills. Although time spent in classrooms is valuable and may be the best way to present certain classes, most firefighters like to get their hands on hoses and spray water. If we can take that love of hands-on training and make it an educational class, good for you (and your members).
Many of us have been around long enough to have handled 1 ½-, 1 ¾-, and 2-inch attack lines. I think I can say that the most common attack line out there today is the 1 ¾-inch hose. It has the advantage of being fairly lightweight, can be maneuvered by one firefighter most of the time, and it can easily move around most of today’s homes. Since most of the fires we respond to are smaller fires, the 1 ¾-inch hose is a great choice for dwellings and smaller-sized fires.
However, we cannot forget the 2 ½-inch attack line. It has been in existence for a long time, and has gone from the main attack line to a much smaller presence on today’s fire apparatus. It weighs more than the 1 ¾-inch line; a 50-foot section of 1 ¾-inch hose can hold just over 50 pounds of water, while the 50-foot section of 2 ½-inch hose weighs just more than 100 pounds.
But the advantages of the 2 ½-inch hose are many. You may be hard pressed to get more than 200 gallons per minute (gpm) out of the 1 ¾-inch hose, but flows of over 300 gallons per minute are attainable from a 2 ½-inch hose…that is more than a ton of water per minute! The larger hoseline has better reach and penetration, and can be broken down and turned into smaller handlines with just a few simple steps. Consider the 2 ½-inch handlines for anything larger than one- and two-family dwellings, commercial, industrial, strip malls and defensive operations. We have all seen the guy spraying a 1 ¾-inch hose at a major defensive operation and wondered why a larger line wasn’t chosen.
The training day I’m recounting started with some of the background information that you just read. We went over where we have 2 ½-inch hose on our trucks, how much we have, what nozzle is attached, and where the other nozzles are located. We then headed out to a 50-foot section of hose with our solid stream tip on the end of it. We talked about pressures and gpm flow. We then pressurized it and had everyone feel the line with proper pressure on it. We shut the line down and took off the stack tips, revealing 1 ½-inch threads. I had a section of 1 ¾-inch hose nearby and I had a firefighter thread it on so we can see how it all goes together.
We stretched more 2 ½-inch up our training tower and then flowed it out the side of the tower. This line has our combination nozzle on it, and I had everyone get a feel for it, as the pressure is a bit more than the solid stream nozzle. We then took the line down the tower and arranged it in a loop for defensive operations. One person can easily sit on and control this large line if it is done correctly. We then took turns flowing water out of this setup and reviewed some of the tools and appliances that may be useful with 2 ½-inch hose operations, such as the gated wye, siamese, hose clamps, hose straps, and hose rollers for advancing hose up the side of a building to an upper floor.
(1) The 2 ½-inch solid stream nozzle is shown here. The stack tips can be removed to reveal 1 ½-inch threads, which can accept lengths of the smaller diameter hose. Also, other tools and appliances are demonstrated.
(2) The 2 ½-inch hose, attached to a combination nozzle, is advanced up the tower, and looped for a defensive operation.
(3) The 2 ½-inch hose and nozzle are advanced up the tower and water is directed out of the tower. This is a good drill for estimating hoseline lengths and increasing pressure for elevations.
(4) Feeling the nozzle reaction of this large line and advancing it is a great teamwork concept.
(5) The 2 ½-inch hose can be looped in a defensive position and can be controlled by one firefighter.
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book, Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999), is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.