OBSERVATIONS ON THE ENGINE COMPANY

OBSERVATIONS ON THE ENGINE COMPANY


This fire on the top floor of a five-story multiple dwelling in the Bronx, New York, required five lengths of hose within the fire building. Success in performing a “vertical” handline stretch depends on an accurate estimate of the hose needed to reach and cover the fire area, a hose load designed for the vertical stretch, and adequate training in stretching handlines in buildings with various stair configurations. (Photo by Matt Daly.)

ANDREW A. FREDERICKS is an 18-year veteran of the fire service; a firefighter with the City of New York (NY) Fire Department, assigned to Engine Company 48 in the Bronx; and an engine company chauffeur. He is a New York State-certified fire instructor at the Rockland County Fire Training Center in Pomona, New York, and an adjunct instructor at the New York State Academy of Fire Science. He has two bachelor`s degrees, one in political science and the other in public safety, with a specialization in fire science, and a master`s degree in fire protection management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.



(Left) The middle hose compartment on this Skokie, Illinois, engine contains a static load consisting of 450 feet of three-inch, two lengths (100 feet) of 212-inch handline fitted with a gated wye, and two lengths of 134-inch handline fitted with a “break-apart” nozzle. The two lengths of 134-inch hose are formed into a single horseshoe. The plywood deck on which the 134-inch handline rests was built to allow attachment of a nozzle to the 212-inch hose for deployment as a big handline without disturbing the smaller line (the deck has been pushed forward to reveal the hose below it). In all cases, the horseshoes are specifically sized to be carried, not dragged, and three-inch hose is used to “fill out” the hose loads due to its extremely low friction loss at standard handline flows. The hose compartment on the left also features a triple horseshoe finish. (Photo by Hank Sajovic.) (Bottom) These Skokie firefighters are stretching a large-flow handline from a static hosebed. This load is designed to be effective when deployed both horizontally and vertically. The lead or “working” length is an “inside” horseshoe–the 212-inch “shutoff pipe” (solid-stream nozzle) is on the inside so it rests on the nozzleman`s chest. Both the working length and the next length are 212-inch hose. The balance of the hose load (including the third horseshoe) is three-inch. A total of 550 feet of hose is carried in this compartment. (Photo by Hank Sajovic.)



Anytime a handline is stretched, the nozzleman is responsible for the nozzle and at least one full length of hose. This is the “working length”–the hose needed to advance through the fire area and reach the seat of the fire. Depending on the size of the fire area, more than 50 feet of hose may be needed, so consider one length a minimum. (Photo by Robert Mitts.)




(Left) For decades, FDNY engines featured very low hosebeds to permit orderly and efficient hose removal. The bottom of the hosebed on this apparatus is approximately 19 inches above the rear step and was possible due to use of an “upright”- or “vertical”-style booster tank mounted behind the pump. (Photo by author.) (Middle) Beginning in late 1992, FDNY began accepting delivery of new engines that incorporated many design changes over earlier models. One major change was the switch to a “coffin”-style or “T”-type booster tank to achieve better weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. As a consequence of this change, the bottom of the hosebed was raised to 45 inches above the rear step. This dramatic increase in height made hose removal much more difficult. In addition to the height, each new engine was equipped with a discharge elbow at the rear of the apparatus. A handful of tilt-cab models were provided with three discharge elbows; the high-pressure tilt-cab models, like the one pictured, have four. This creates yet another obstacle to reach over and around when stretching a handline. (Photo by Matt Daly.) (Right) The newest generation of FDNY engines features an “L”-shaped booster tank located partially beneath the hosebed. This new style of tank permits a hosebed that is only 33 inches above the rear step–a height much more accommodating to the firefighters using it. In addition to the height reduction, the length of the hosebed was reduced from 10 to seven feet, making for hose folds of a more manageable length. The discharge elbow was also relocated to eliminate its interference when stretching handlines. (Photo by author.)


Even with a heavy fire condition on the first floor at the front of this house, the initial attack handline is being readied for its advance through the front door and not from the “unburned” side as recommended in many texts on firefighting tactics. The front door leads directly to the interior stairs, and protecting the integrity of these stairs is vital to the life safety of anyone trapped above the fire AND the firefighters searching to find them. The front door is also the easiest entrance to reach, and a shorter hose stretch is involved. This means faster water on the fire. If a straight or solid stream is used and the volume of flow is adequate, the fire will be quickly knocked down with little danger of “pushing” fire into uninvolved areas. (Photo by Robert Mitts.)


This firefighter is demonstrating how to form a charged handline into a loop and roll it as a means of advancing the line when staffing levels are compromised. Rolling the hose in this fashion is far easier than trying to drag it around sharp corners or over debris-covered floors. (Photo by author.)

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