Lines Must Move Ahead For Effective Fire Attack

Lines Must Move Ahead For Effective Fire Attack

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The Volunteers Corner

The name of success in attacking a fire is forward movement. The indication is simple, although the remedy can become complicated.

When the line or lines actually applying water to a fire are able to advance steadily, the fire is knocked down in a relatively short time. Overhauling may take a long time, but that is a controlled situation that should not materially increase the loss. The point is that if our hose lines continue to advance, then an offensive attack is being maintained and extinguishment in a reasonably short time is assured.

On the other hand, if a hose crew entering a building is stopped at a doorway or part way down a hallway, then the offensive attack is in danger of turning into a defensive stand. In this type of situation, time is relative, depending on the size of the fire area and the volume of fire.

For example, in a single room dwelling fire that has flashed over, the hose crew will have to pause near the doorway and apply water longer than if kitchen cabinets on one wall are blazing and no flashover has occurred. Similarly, it will take longer to get a hose line into a 25 X 60-foot store that is fully involved that it will to advance into the same size store with a fire involving stored merchandise in the back room.

Chief must act: Remember, if you are not diminishing the amount of fire, then you are losing the battle. A fire that you are keeping even with will eventually run out of fuel and you will lose the building or the fire area in a fire-resistant structure. The chief in charge must be alert to sense the possibility of difficulty in advancing lines and be prepared to augment the attack with additional hand lines and, if necessary, master streams. At the same time, officers in charge of hose crews must be quick to get word to the chief by walkie-talkie or runner when they are unable to advance.

A precaution that has high payoff in fireground efficiency is stretching a 2 1/2-inch backup line whenever 1 1/2-inch lines are used in the initial attack. If all goes well with the 1 1/2-inch lines, you pick up the 2 1/2-inch line and are grateful that it wasn’t needed, but if more power is required, then you will be thankful for the 2 1/2-inch line that is ready to move into action in a fraction of the time it would take to stretch it after the need became apparent.

Sometimes all that is needed to move hand lines forward is improved ventilation. Fire fighting involves a deluge of judgment and there is no guaranty that all acts of judgment are 100 percent correct on the fireground or anywhere else. But the chief in charge can take corrective action when the plan of attack runs into difficulty. If a hose crew cannot make an attic, perhaps all the chief has to do is to increase the amount of ventilation originally provided by the ladder company. Or if entry cannot be made into a cellar, the chief might order the use of a cellar pipe to knock down the blaze and make it possible for hand lines to advance and extinguish the remaining fire.

Think ahead: On the other hand, you will roll in on fires that have fully involved a relatively small structure or an area of a large structure, and a master stream from a deck pipe is necessary to knock down the blaze before hand lines can be used effectively. In every fire, the officer in charge must think ahead of the fire and estimate what the fire will be doing by the time the full attack is under way. In the situation just described, a fast deck pipe attack can cut the fire down to hand line size so that once hand lines go into action, they can steadily move into the fire area.

If hand lines operated after the initial attack are going to have to be taken over ladders, then the chief must be quick to order ladders raised so that when the lines are ready to move, ladders will be in position. In the same way, if a chief sends an engine company to enter another side of a building, he should provide for forcible entry and ventilation requirements so that there will be no delay in getting the line into the desired position.

The chief in charge, through his own observation and reports he receives, has to estimate the reaction of a fire to the initial attack and make every effort to overpower or block any unwanted reaction before the fire gets out of hand and forces the companies into a defensive stand. If two more engine companies are needed in 5 minutes, then that is the time you have to get them into action. If it takes longer, you might have to call five companies.

Don’t get bogged down in a holding action. Think ahead, get the required fire attack power into action in time, and keep the lines moving toward final extinguishment,

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