By Brian Brush
The hit-and-move method of fire attack involves less coordinated movement and more of an attack process: set up, flow, advance, repeat. The method uses high-volume flow, stream reach, and the low nozzle reaction of the 11/8-inch smooth bore and 2½-inch line to allow a single firefighter to effectively “lay down cover” prior to each advancement.
Photo 1. (Photos by author.)
Consider the numbers. With this weapon, we are throwing 250 gallons per minute (gpm) 30 to 50 feet into an enclosed structure. Flowing this line for 30 to 60 seconds suppresses a significant amount of fire and heat. A situation where a pause for advancement and setup is not created would be rare; but if it should occur, the solution would be simple. Hold your position, and open the nozzle back up. I have found that when using the hit-and-move method, a team of two firefighters can effectively and rapidly mount a forward attack with the larger-caliber line.
It should be understood but bears repeating that the 2½-inch handline is not the right line for every occasion, especially in limited-staffing situations. With that said, we must face our reality. Our cries for more staffing are not unheard; they are just falling on empty wallets and task-overloaded local governments. We must be adaptive and find ways to gain relative superiority, or we will relegate ourselves to the inherent weakness that is lack of firepower. This article focuses on the hit-and-move, ground-level advance of the 2½-inch handline with two firefighters. This method will assist small forces with effectively battling advanced fire conditions.
Set up, flow, advance, repeat. This will be the cadence of your attack. In photo 1, the process is initiated on the exterior. The line is deployed and set up for initial attack. I created two loops of hose, with the advancing line always lying over the top. This short section where the line is off the ground reduces some drag friction and work on the firefighter in the advance. You can also see that I have positioned the first coupling at the doorway. This provides a good point of reference and a solid point to grab as you bring that coupling into the structure preventing the potential hang-up on the door jamb.
Photos 2 – 5
With the hose set up, it is now time to grab the nozzle and work on your positioning (photo 2). Bring the nozzle out in front of the center of your body with the bail at arm’s reach. Pinch the hose between your armpit and your thigh as you bring your back leg up. With your foot solid, roll your body onto the hose and lock your elbow in your inner thigh just above your knee (photo 3). The ground work is now set, and the nozzle is opened (photo 4). The reaction force comes into the core of the body and is distributed across the foundation. Because of the arm’s length of hose out in front, small movements at the base are amplified over the distance and the nozzle can be “whipped” around with ease. From this position, you attack until you have determined the knockdown permits a safe advance, and you move in, taking the nozzle forward by the bail and the line forward at the coupling.
Set up, flow, advance, and now we move in. In this structure, the exterior door brings us into the stairwell before making the interior hallway. This shortens our initial push as we move only a few feet into the structure from the exterior before we set up again. The important note is that this is not a sprint to the fire room; this is a calculated advance. We must take advantage of points of cover as we progress forward. The setup is very similar to the exterior—the coupling and nozzle are brought forward to the door and threshold. Take up the nozzle with sufficient hose in front and the elbow locked in front of the raised knee, pinching down on the line (photo 6). The body is square to the stream; however the stream is being manipulated in a clockwise fashion.
Photos 7 – 9
The stream is running the full length of the hallway.
Set up, flow, and advance for making the interior. Once he have cleared the potential hang-ups of the initial doorways and thresholds with the coupling, the focus of the nozzle firefighter now becomes advancing the nozzle, and hose-movement duties fall to the second firefighter. Once again, when you have determined you have knocked back enough fire and heat to advance, shut down the flow and advance, dragging the hose forward by the bail as it is fed in by the second firefighter. Once you reach the point where you want to set up, set the nozzle down, fall back down on the line to that arm’s reach, and establish the body position to flow again.
Photos 10 – 13
Photos 14 – 18
When the nozzle firefighter has established his first position on the interior and begins to flow, the backup firefighter starts to stock hose for the next push. He can do this by making loops in an open area like a foyer or a room. In a hallway, hose can be stocked by creating an “S.” The “S” from wall to wall stocks hose so that when the next advance is made, the hose’s tendency is to straighten, assisting the advancement of the hose. In photos 11-15, you can see that the “S” in the hallway is straightened on the advance and the nozzle is moved forward into the fire room about 10 feet. For the nozzle firefighter, the “S” of the hose creates greater friction with the ground in his immediate area while flowing. This helps take the nozzle reaction to the ground across a broader area. If the line is straight behind the nozzle firefighter, it has greater tendency to “cheat back” on him.
Once the “S” is well-established and the backup firefighter is in position to feed hose, the nozzle firefighter should have an easier advance on his next move; he may be able to maintain the line in his armpit as he pushes to his next attack point.
Photos 19 – 21
The hallway also provides an added benefit of support. As the nozzle firefighter begins to fatigue on the advance, he can lean into or set up against, a wall to use the surface to counter nozzle reaction forces. Another is to run the hose between the legs and use a foot to pin it to the wall, which is contrary to the armpit-lock method required when working in an open area.
One other alternative method to present is the knee-on-the-hose technique. This method is the easiest way for a single firefighter to flow a larger-caliber line. The method favors smaller firefighters who struggle with the weight of the charged line or nozzle reaction or firefighters who are getting fatigued by the work and advance. It is also a great method in an open-floor or exterior attack where a wall is not present for support. We are all familiar with the “sit on the loop” method of a single-firefighter 2½-inch flow. However, sitting on hose is a passive and stationary position. The knee-on-the-hose has a forward focus. Shut down, and advance with a straight drag quickly; by taking the nozzle reaction straight to the ground with your body weight on the knee, your workload is minimized. Advance to your point of setup, and drop back on the line until you are within an arm’s reach of the bail, but instead of lifting the hose into your armpit, place a knee on the hose and raise the nozzle to about a 45˚ position. When you open the bail, drop one hand back to the knee and split the distance with the other. This leaves the bail fully open to operate and allows for great play or “whip” in the line with minimal movements back at the foundation.
Photos 22 – 25
Set up, flow, advance; set up, flow, advance; set up, flow, advance. You are now at the final push, ready to make the turn. You’re exhausted, but in control. You have battled the fire back; and as the line continues to knock it down, you start to review the plan for your last move. You have great position. Looking behind you down the line, you see your backup has stocked you with enough hose to make the final push. He starts moving up the line to support you and fight together through the last doorway. You do not accomplish anything with a plan alone; it serves only as a guide to action. If you wish to increase the effectiveness of your single-line engine company, you must take these ideas and test, repeat, modify, and prove them.
BRIAN BRUSH, an 18-year veteran of the fire service, is a firefighter at Edmond (OK) Fire Rescue. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire and emergency services administration and Fire Officer designation from the Center for Public Service Excellence. He instructs for FDIC and writes for Fire Engineering.