National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Is That Line Charged Properly?

Advancing an attack line is a basic function for every fire department. The firefighting strategy, tactics, and tasks that are involved vary from department to department, but the premise is the same; put the fire out. This sequence to completing the evolution should be practiced frequently to ensure flawless performance on the emergency scene. The knowledge that we know of, human performance has many scenarios containing the question of “what if” and these questions should also be asked.

Brackets [] denote reviewer de-identification.

“[Fire department name deleted] was alerted to a report of a structure fire at the [name deleted]. The Chief arrived and reported fire evident from an end of the row unit on a single story motel. Engine [1] arrived and stretched a 1 3/4” attack line. As the engine crew was stretching the initial line, the pump operator was hand stretching a supply line to a hydrant that was located near the engine. The pump operator did charge the initial line and the attack crew detected low pressure in the line.

The attack crew was able to knock the bulk of the fire down and had a sufficient stream to reach the rear of the apartment. They decided to make entry into the structure to hit the hot spots and complete final extinguishment even though proper pressure had not been achieved in the attack line.

It was later discovered that the pump operator failed to…”

A normal human response to completing a task is to stay on the course, even when a factor (or factors) emerge that indicate a smooth task completion will not occur. As this week’s reporter notes, there are several emerging issues with advancing this attack line. In the end, all works out favorably but there are enough warning signs to indicate the next crew facing the same scenario may not achieve the same outcome. Once you have reviewed the entire account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

1. How much time does your onboard tank water provide when you have to hand stretch a supply line?
2. What is the theory behind your department’s philosophy on advancing attack lines (i.e., advancing uncharged versus advancing charged)?
3. Do you have a signaling system worked out between officer and driver so the two of you are in sync if the driver or officer loses water?
4. Compare the pros and cons of advancing uncharged versus charged lines. Regardless of your department policy, does the opposite practice have merits you may have not considered?
5. What is the average time it takes to advance your most frequently pulled attack line to a point that includes negotiating some obstacles (parked cars, trees and bushes, etc.) and climbing at least one floor?

Have you used an attack line to avoid a near miss? Submit your account today to ensure tomorrow’s attack teams benefit from your knowledge. Submit your incident to today so everyone goes home tomorrow.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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