Drill with Preconnected Lines For Effective Initial Attacks
The Volunteers Corner
The use of preconnected 1 1/2-inch lines—or live lines—was developed to make more rapid and effective initial attacks. Frequent drilling with live lines can improve the rapidity and effectiveness of initial attacks.
Kinks that appear as the preconnect is stretched toward the fire create the most common problem in the use of a live line. The first step in minimizing this problem is to convince the nozzleman that all kinks are not going to disappear by themselves and that he has a responsibility for eliminating them.
When you conduct a preconnect drill, don’t let the nozzleman walk straight out from the pumper, stretching the entire hose load in a straight line. There are few fires at which he can do that, and when a nozzleman is able to do that at a fire, he should start worrying about extra hose to permit his to advance as he extinguishes fire.
Fireground problems: Limit the nozzleman to moving only a quarter to half the length of the live line from the pumper. This limitation presents a realistic fireground situation. It also creates two problems that constantly occur on the fireground. The remainder of the preconnect must be cleared from the hose bed and there will be kinks that have to be eliminated to obtain a full flow of water.
First, let’s consider the simpler of the two problems. When two men are available to handle the line, the second man on the line should be responsible for clearing the live line from the hose bed. When there is only one man for the preconnect—and this can happen when the other men are needed for rescue or when a second live line is ordered into operation—then the pump operator must become responsible for clearing the hose bed. The pump operator can put his pump into operation, clear the hose bed and then open the valve to the preconnected line. So much for clearing the bed.
Now let’s take a look at the kink problem. This is where constant drilling will improve the operation. Regardless of how the preconnected line is packed in the bed, the nozzleman can stretch the line so that there are fewer kinks in it and those that do occur will mostly curve nicely as the line is charged.
Drilling with this objective in mind will make a nozzleman proficient in minimizing the kink problem. Whether he carries hose loops over his forearm or hose folds on his shoulder that kink problem is always hovering around the nozzleman.
Second man’s job: When there is a second man on the line, he must take the remaining hose out of the bed and stretch it in a relatively straight line toward the fire. If this No. 2 man Ls delayed in getting into the action, it’s his job to make certain the bed has been cleared and take out any bends left by the nozzleman.
When working alone, the nozzleman can usually give a flip to the hose that can alleviate the possibility of a serious kink as he stretches the line toward the fire. In drills, he can learn to keep one eye on the hose being stretched to ensure a full water flow.
As the nozzle approaches the initial attack area, it is riprapped with large radius curves—like a widely expanded accordion load—by the nozzleman and the No. 2 man, if there is one. If the loops in the line are large enough, there will be only minor—or no—kinks when the line is charged, and all the spare hose will be readily available for advancement as fire is extinguished. As the line is charged, the second man can ease out any remaining kinks in the hose, and because the spare hose is in one area, he remains close at hand to assist the nozzleman in advancing the line at the right time.
Charging the fine: As a live line is taken off a pumper, the pump operator should learn to keep an eye on the action and charge the line at the appropriate time without waiting for an order. When the nozzle goes out of the sight of the pump operator, he should estimate the time it will take to get the line in an attack position and charge the line without further delay. The pump operator, with practice, can learn to get water to the nozzle in the minimum amount of time consistent with the desirability of keeping the line dry for stretching to the attack position.
If the pumper has two preconnected lines, continue the drill by having the No. 2 man on the first line return to the pumper and stretch a second live line by himself. Then have the men change positions and repeat the lining-in evolution.
If you can do all this with three men on a pumper, think what you can do with four or five men—and try it when additional men are available.
If other fire fighters are available after putting one or two preconnects into operation, have these other men stretch a backup 2 1/2-inch line, which is always a good precaution at a fire.
Extending the fine: Your preconnected line drill should also cover the possibility of the live line being too short. The drill should include extending the range of a preconnect by pulling the necessary number of lengths of 2 1/2-inch hose off the bed, attaching one end to a pump discharge and placing a reducing fitting to 1 1/2-inch on the other end. After the 2 1/2-inch is stretched its full length, then the preconnect is coupled to it.
The reducing fitting on the end of the 2 1/2 should be a gated 2 1/2 to 1 1/2-inch wye. Then a second 1 1/2-inch line can be supplied by the single 2 1/2-inch hose. However, if this size wye is not available, an all-2 1/2-inch wye with reducers on the outlets can be used. Or you can even use a simple 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 reducer, but then you are limited to the use of a single 1½ -inch line from the 2 1/2-inch hose.
In any event, learn to be flexible. Once in a while drill with the fittings you wouldn’t use except when the usual fittings are already in use.