Teamwork Needed to Take Hose Line Up a Stairway
The Volunteers Corner
Getting a 2 1/2-inch, or even a 1 1/2-inch, hose line up a stairway requires teamwork and a generous application of common sense. I’ve purposely avoided the word “precision” because I’ve found that a stairway evolution that requires precision is too fragile for the fireground.
A practical way of advancing a line up a stairway starts at the hose bed. The nozzle man takes enough hose from the bed so that he can attach the nozzle easily, if it isn’t already attached. He then places the nozzle on his back with the hose under his right arm and over his right shoulder. The nozzle man now feeds more hose over his shoulder as he grasps the nozzle with his left hand and brings it diagonally across his chest. With a little practice, a man can get the feel of how much hose should be looped down at his left side to give some balance to a playpipe. A directly connected nozzle does not require this adjustment for comfort.
Holding the nozzle: Once the hose is in place around his body, the man then grasps the nozzle with his right hand, leaving his left hand free to feel his way or grab railings. The nozzle man climbs a stairway and moves the line into position holding the nozzle in this manner. When he is ready for water, he draws his right arm back slightly so the hose falls off his shoulder, and then he uses both hands to hold the playpipe or nozzle in his customary manner.
There is a desirable measure of safety in the way the nozzle is carried because of the ease and speed with which the nozzle man can get his body free of the hose and assume a normal position for holding the nozzle.
The second man on the line thrusts his right forearm through the first three loops at the rear of the hose bed and drags hose to the ground, keeping his arm through the loops. The number of other firemen who do the same thing depends on the number of lengths to be taken into the building. All men keep the hose on their right side as they drag the line into the structure and up the stairs.
Dropping the loops: The last man on the line will be the first to drop loops, one by one, as he stretches the hose. When he has his section of line fully stretched, the man ahead of him will repeat the procedure with his loops. Practice and common sense will make this a smooth operation on either a stairway or a fire escape.
When the nozzle man has reached an operating position, extra hose can be laid on the floor, if there is space, in accordion-like loops so that there are no sharp bends and the line when charged can easily be advanced. Where there is enough room, the man behind the nozzle man merely lowers his loops to the floor and eases the bends.
Extra hose up stairs: If the nozzle man can’t get past the stairway exit to the fire floor, the extra hose can be advanced up the stairs to make a long loop. With the extra hose up the next flight of stairs, gravity will ease the job of advancing line onto the fire floor. It is a good deal easier to pull a charged loop of line down stairs than it is to pull the same amount up a stairway.
When the last man on the line pulls his loops off the hose bed, he breaks the line and hands his coupling to the pump operator, who will connect it to the pump. Confusion will be minimized if all hose is connected to the pump only by the pump operator. A man handing a coupling to an operator should identify the fine by saying, “This is your No. 1 line,” or “This is your No. 2 line.” Then when a pump operator gets an order affecting a numbered line, he knows to which gate the fine is attached.
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This evolution is designed for minimum manpower, so each man has to handle as much as 50 feet of hose, depending on the length of the hose bed. If a hose bed is 10 feet long, it may be advisable for most men to put only two loops of hose over their arm. On the other hand, four loops out of a 6-foot hose bed can be maneuvered by some men without undue difficulty.