Making Preconnects Work


The more time a fire department spends developing an easier and more efficient method for loading preconnected attack lines, the less time it will take to deploy the lines at the emergency scene.

In the Windsor Heights (IA) Fire Department, a small suburban combination department with approximately 25 members, the majority of the members are paid-on-call, and daytime staffing is sometimes challenging. Until recently, the flat load reigned supreme in my department. Who could blame us? The flat load is easy to repack; anyone can do it. After a recent fire and some National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1410, Standard on Training for Initial Emergency Scene Operations, evolutions, it became evident that we needed a change.

On our reserve engine, our crosslay hosebeds are only wide enough to accommodate one stack of 1¾-inch line. We used a minuteman load in this configuration, and it worked great. One firefighter can easily clear the hosebed when making the initial stretch.

Our newest engine has a top-mounted pump and speedlays beneath the pump panel. The beds are wide enough to accommodate two stacks of the 1¾-inch attack line. When we packed the hose with a flat load, the hose ended up in a tangled pile on the street if the crew didn’t flake out the line. We considered a triple layer or “S” load, but we didn’t like how it could get tangled around obstacles in the front yard. The minuteman was the logical choice for us because (1) it could be loaded in a “two-stack” configuration, and (2) one firefighter could easily clear the hosebed.

To deploy the minuteman in the “two-stack” configuration, do the following:

1 Grab the nozzle stack and place it on your shoulder (photos 1, 2).
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 1 Photos by Jason Cutsforth.

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2 Reach back with your opposite arm and position your arm through the loop (photo 3). 
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3 Advance the hose toward the attack point (photo 4), and make sure to maintain control of the shouldered stack, letting the ground hose play out until all of the slack is gone. The hose will then play off the shoulder stack, leaving the firefighter with the nozzle (photo 5).


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We have also loaded a 2½-inch preconnected line on the rear hosebed with the same finish. This particular line is 200 feet long with a 11⁄8-inch tip solid stream nozzle. Prior to placing this line into service, the engine never had a 2½-inch preconnect. Our newest engine’s rear hosebed is divided into two beds. One side has 1,000 feet of four-inch supply line; the other has 600 feet of static 2½-inch hose for making fire department connection (FDC) hookups.

Without spending the money on another bed divider, we loaded our minuteman on top of the remaining 400 feet of hose (photo 6). To more easily manage this particular load, we short-loaded it in the back half of the bed (photo 7); this makes it easier for the firefighter to shoulder and carry.


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If you must make an FDC, use the same procedure for advancing the attack line. You can remove the nozzle and make the connection. If the FDC has two intakes, use the remaining static hose in the bed.

The front bumper line proved cumbersome with the flat load; we needed a finish that would allow a single firefighter to clear the bed and advance a line quickly and efficiently. To solve this, we rolled our two 50-foot sections into two donut rolls (photo 8). The rolls fit nicely into the bumper compartment and look pretty clean.


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To deploy the bumper line, do the following:

1 Remove both donut rolls from the compartment and place them on the street (photo 9). 
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2 Advance the nozzle and the middle coupling to the attack point area. When the firefighter brings the middle coupling along with the nozzle, the 100-foot line extends in only 50 feet with no sharp hose bends that would produce kinks and restrict gallons per minute (photos 10, 11).


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We have to do more with less, like a lot of departments. With a little ingenuity and some experimentation, we have engineered our hose loads to be more user-friendly and efficient. If you make fire apparatus changes, advise your members of the change and drill on the changes so they will become second nature.

CHRISTOPHER W. CROSS is a 15-year fire service veteran, a 13-year paramedic, chief of the Windsor Heights (IA) Fire Department, and field instructor for the Iowa Fire Service Training Bureau.



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