You are the first-arriving engine company on the scene of a reported fire in a high-rise building. Smoke is coming from a window on the fourth floor. Earlier in the year, you conducted a walk-through inspection of this building, and you know that the building has no standpipe system. How would you go about getting water to the seat of the fire?

Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department firefighters were trained on three methods of establishing a water supply to the upper floors of such a building when there is no standpipe system. The training was held in a vacant eight-story building in the downtown area that has three stairwells and 12 to 16 apartments per floor.

The exercise was presented in three scenarios–one for each stairwell. The fire companies were rotated through all three training stations. Two engine companies and one ladder company were on the training ground together for each evolution. The fourth floor was used as the fire floor for all scenarios. The session–lecture and hands-on application–takes about one hour and 15 minutes.


Each company was equipped with the following:

a utility hose pack consisting of 100 feet of lightweight 134-inch hose with high-rise combination straight-tip/fog nozzle with gated shutoff and 10 feet of three-inch hose with 212-inch to 112-inch lightweight gated wye attached loaded in a shoulder carry with straps;

a tool bag (carried in the shoulder carry) containing the following:

one 212-inch lightweight double-male, one aluminum 18-inch pipe wrench, a 212-inch to 112-inch lightweight reducer, 112-inch standpipe thread adapter, one folding spanner wrench, and wooden door chocks;

a rope bag;

a hose roller; and

a hotel roll (a 50-foot section of 134-inch hose with a loop on the end to carry over the shoulder).


Using the front stairwell that had a window to the outside, the fire companies had to use a rope to hoist a supply line to the floor below the fire, tie off the line, attach their utility hose pack, and advance the handline to the seat of the fire. This scenario allowed the firefighters to practice their knot-tying skills (clove hitch, half-hitch, running bowline, and square knot) and to estimate how much hose is needed to reach a specific floor.


Using the center stairwell, the firefighters had to physically advance a three-inch supply line up the stairs to the floor below the fire. Members are instructed in the following:

How to estimate the amount of hose needed. Rule of thumb: One section of hose will get you up one and one-half floors. At this station, two sections of three-inch hose are needed to reach the third floor, plus the length of hose needed to go from the apparatus to the structure`s point of entrance.

How to load the hose on their shoulders for carrying it up the stairs. Each member should be able to carry one section of hose on the shoulder.

Try to keep all hose to the outside edge of the stairwell.

After the hose is loaded on the members` shoulders and they enter the building, the last member carrying hose is the first to flake the hose off his shoulder. The next member then flakes off his hose, and so on.

Once the line reaches the floor below the fire, the utility hose pack is connected to the three-inch supply line. It is usually best to connect the hose in the hallway of the floor below the fire than in the stairwell. This method provides more space within which to work and usually provides better visibility; it also has less traffic.

Always bleed your line of air and set your water stream before entering the fire floor.

Always have a hotel roll with your utility hose pack. If the hotel roll is to be added to the attack line, do it before entering the fire floors.

As you crawl down the hallway to reach the fire room, always check overhead for fire conditions. If the building has drop ceilings in the hallway, remove the tiles with your straight stream, or use a pike pole, if available. Never let the fire run over your head and get behind you.


The third training station, the rear stairwell (used for entry), teaches firefighters how to establish a water supply using the aerial ladder as a waterway. The fire company is instructed to remember or do the following:

Carry its utility hose pack to the floor below the fire.

Locate a window or opening close to the stairwell to the fire floor.

Have the aerial position its nozzle into the opening on the third floor. If the aerial is not equipped with a prepiped waterway, advance the supply line up the ladder to the opening.

Remove the nozzle and attach the StingerT (10 feet of three-inch hose) to the water pipe.

Attach the StingerT to the utility hose pack, and stretch the handline to the fire floor by way of the stairwell.

Stretch all excess hoseline up to the landing above the fire floor; this makes it easier to advance the handline onto the fire floor.

Be aware that once the door to the fire floor is open, this position may become untenable.

Position crew members along the handline where the line encounters turns and doorways. Bends in lightweight hose can greatly reduce water flow.

Keep in mind that if this method is used to establish a water supply, the aerial is out of service for rescue.

This method is not recommended if the building is occupied or there is a chance that the aerial will be needed for rescue. It would be good to use if a crew were sent to the upper floors to do overhaul or look for hot spots after being in a defensive mode.

Besides giving some quality training on basic tactics, this training exercise enables us to identify missing or broken equipment. n

n THOMAS ROBERTS, a 29-year veteran of the fire service, is assistant director of training in the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department. He previously served as a battalion executive officer. He is a member of the FDIC educational advisory committee.

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