On the Line: Simple Outside Stretches

Article and photos by David DeStefano

The ability to quickly get a line into operation between the occupants and the fire in small multidwellings is the key to saving lives. These buildings are usually less than five stories and are not sprinklered and do not have standpipes. They can present a challenge for engine companies that must stretch up multiple flights of narrow stairs with occupants evacuating and truck company firefighters making their way by to search the fire floor. A stretch up the stairs can be time-consuming, require a lot of hose, and easily become kinked by stairway traffic after you thought all the kinks were removed. 

We will discuss two methods to increase the speed and efficiency of stretching a line in this type of building. These methods will also alleviate some congestion in the stairway and produce lines with less bends and turns that can cause kinks. 

Rope Jug Stretch

One method to quickly get a line into position without stretching up the stairs is to use a length of utility rope to haul it into a window or up to a balcony. A rope bag or a jug can be used to drop the rope down from an upper floor. A firefighter on the ground who has stretched a line from the rig can quickly attach the rope to the hose using prerigged clips. A jug with an opening cut in its face is filled through the neck to keep it on the rope. Each end of the utility rope is equipped with a carabiner or clip. The end of the rope in the jug is positioned with the clip or carabiner available to pull out of the opening in the face for easy access by the firefighter attaching the hoseline. This method works quickly for stretches up fire escapes, balconies, and windows of many smaller multidwellings.

(1) A rope jug.

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Hook Method

A trick of the trade to get a line to the second floor that is especially useful for fire escape or balcony stretches is to use a hook that firefighters may already have on the balcony or fire escape. The hook can be handed down to the firefighter at ground level who can attach it to the bail of a nozzle. Another method is for the firefighter on the ground to hand the hook up to the second floor with the line attached. 

 

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Both methods allow engine companies to complete stretches to upper floors of buildings quickly without using stairwells. Using a more direct route to the fire floor and avoiding the long stretches and many turns firefighters may encounter in tight stairwells will make for an easier job, especially in short-staffed companies. 

David DeStefano is a 20-year veteran of the North Providence (RI) Fire Department, where he serves as a lieutenant in Ladder Co. 1. He previously served as a lieutenant in Engine 3 and was a firefighter in Ladder 1. He teaches a variety of topics for the Rhode Island Fire Academy. He can be reached at dmd2334@cox.net.       

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