The Volunteer Fire Department
A Series of Articles on Volunteer Fire Department Administration and Operation.
Drills for Properly Moving Hose on Ladders and Stretching Hose Lines
This article, the twelfth of a series, describes in detail the proper methods for carrying Fire Department hose up stairs, for stretching hose lines and carrying hose up ladders. This information should be made the basis for drills in training volunteer firemen.
IF fires, when they do occur, would only break out in favorable places, much of the trouble experienced in laying hose could be avoided. But too much is taken for granted in that one word, “if.”
Not all fires develop on the street floor. Blazes are discovered on upper floors and in places where it is necessary to stretch hose lines either up stairways or by means of ladders. Volunteer firemen should be trained in the proper methods for performing these tasks so that the evolutions may be performed more efficiently and safer.
Drills in Carrying Hose Up Stairs
In carrying hose, which is not charged, up stairways, the firemen should not be more than twenty-five feet apart when carrying the line. Taking into account the distance around stairways, one man per floor is none too liberal an allowance.
To clarify the point, the man at the nozzle end of the line will be termed No. 1. The men who follow him will be called 2, 3. 4, and 5 in order.
Assume that hose is on the ground, and the men are ready for the signal to go. Immediately upon receiving word to proceed, No. 1 takes the end of the line and runs toward the building with it, at the same time screwing the nozzle on.
Firemen Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 take their places on the line as is drawn out. stationing themselves about 25 feet apart. After No. 1 has the nozzle on the line, he quickly passes the line under his left arm, over his chest, over his right shoulder, across his back, and grasps the nozzle with his left hand and brings it under his left arm. Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 have, in the meantime, placed the line on their right shoulders.
The procession is then ready to mount the stairway. Fig. 1 shows how the arrangement looks. The distances between the men is necessarily shortened so that a sketch of sufficient detail can be shown in the width of the page.
As carried out in large departments, the above drill ends with the placing of the nozzle on the window sill of the fourth floor in position to operate a stream out of the fourth floor window. Where this drill is followed, when the pipeman reaches the window sill he calls out, Fireman No. 5 then drops the hose from his shoulder and straightens it out in front of him. No. 5 calls to No. 4, who drops it from his shoulder, and straightens it out as did No. 5. No. 4 calls to No. 3 likewise, and No. 3 to No. 2. Fireman No. 1 then calls for water.
Taking Down Line
The first step in taking the line out is to shut off the water and then break the line at a point one length away from building. A sixth man should do this, the five men who took the line in, take it out again.
At the command to back out, each man takes the position that he had when he dropped the hose. He picks up the hose, facing the opposite direction. When all men are ready, the word is passed along and the line is carried down.
The practice of stretching charged lines to floors above the second by means of stairways is a poor one to follow. It causes unnecessary delay, and more men are required to perform such an operation than to carry the line in when it is not charged.
Stretching Charged Line Up Stairway
Where the line is to be taken to the third floor, it should be done in the following manner.
The line is first attached to the hydrant, the nozzle put on, and the hydrant opened up. The nozzle is opened partially to permit air to escape and the line to become charged.
When the order is given to stretch in, No. 1 takes the nozzle (by the leather holder, if it is equipped with one), while the rest of the men take their positions along the line, spaced about 20 feet apart. They carry the hose under the right arm, and in both hands, No. 1 keeping the lead with the nozzle. Any spare men assist by pushing the hose into the building and upwards.
When No. 1 gets to the third floor he places the nozzle on the window sill, and calls to drop the line, No. 2 then moves up to the nozzle and assists No. 1 in operating it.
It is an unsatisfactory practice to back out with a charged line. Time will be saved if the line is relieved by shutting off hydrant and opening up the line outside of building on street before it is backed out.
It is not good practice to carry charged lines up ladders for more than 25 feet which is another way of saying that the line should not be carried up on ladders when the line is charged higher than the third floor window.
Stretching a Charged Line Up a Ladder
The procedure in stretching charged line up a ladder and operating in the third-story window is as follows:
After sufficient hose is laid out, the line is connected to nozzle. No. 2 places his rope on the line twelve feet back from No. 1. No. 3 places his rope on the line twelve feet back from No. 2. Nos. 4 and 5 assist by lightening up on the line.
No. 1 now takes the handle of the hose rope in his right hand, and grasps the leather holder on the nozzle with his right hand (if the nozzle is equipped with leather). He then starts ascending the ladder, with Nos. 2 and 3 following and pulling the line up with their hose ropes. Nos. 6, at the bottom of the ladder, assists by placing his right arm around the hose and boosting it up with both hands. Nos. 4 and 5 also assist by pulling hose in towards the ladder.
When No. 1 is about even with the sill of the third-story window, he takes a leg hold on the ladder. When the nozzle is about even with his head, he calls to the men below him on the ladder to hold on. Nos. 2 and 3 then place the hooks of their hose ropes over the rungs, making the line fast to the ladder. No. 1 grasps the tip of the nozzle with his left hand, bends the hose and pulls the nozzle down. He puts it through the rungs where his left leg is. He then reaches over a rung with the right hand, gets hold of the handle of his hose rope and places the hook on the next rung. The fireman finally reaches through, grasps the nozzle with both hands, opens it, and operates the stream.
In ascending and descending a ladder with a charged line, the men lay close to the rungs, grasping the rungs with the left hand and pulling up the line with the right hand. Most of the work in stretching the line up the ladder falls on Nos. 2, 3 and 6.
Taking Charged Line Down Ladder
In taking a charged line down a ladder, No. 1 shuts off the nozzle, removes hook of hose rope from rungs, backs the nozzle out from between the rungs and lays it up straight against the rungs of the ladder. He then releases his leg hold on the ladder, and ascends about two rungs so that the nozzle is at his hip, and grasps it in the same manner as before.
Nos. 2 and 3 then grasp the handles on their hose ropes, and the line is shifted up so that they can release the hooks from the rungs. The three men descend with the line to the the nozzle is at his hip, and grasps it in the same manner as they descend.
Stretching Empty Line Up Ladder, and Operating in Third Story Window
To stretch an empty line up a ladder and to operate in a third-story window the 45-foot ladder is placed to the fourth story window. No. 1 takes the end of the line, places his rope on the hose just back of the coupling and moves to the bottom of the ladder, getting the nozzle and connecting it on the hose. He places the line over his right shoulder.
No. 1 then ascends the ladder, No. 2 taking a position back about twelve feet back with hose on right shoulder, and follows No. 1 on the ladder. No. 3 takes his place about 15 feet back of No. 2 with the hose over the right shoulder and follows No. 2 up the ladder. No. 4 takes his place back of No. 3 and lightens up on the hose. No. 5 takes his place flat against the rungs as the men ascend.
When No. 1 gets opposite the window sill at the third story, he takes a leg hold on the ladder. He removes the nozzle from his shoulder and places it through the rungs where his left leg is, and holds it with his left hand. He then reaches through over the next rung above with his right hand and gets the handle of the rope and places the hook on the next rung above. He then gets both hands on the nozzle and calls for water.
As No. 1 takes leg hold on the ladder, No. 2 does the same on the ladder about 12 feet below, and places his hose rope around the hose—on the part that lays against the ladder. When No. 1 calls for water, No. 2 places his hook over a rung and slides his loop off his shoulder and down the ladder. While No. 2 is doing this, No. 3 descends to the ground and removes his loop from his shoulder, and places his hose rope on the hose, and hooks it on the ladder up about 5 feet from the ground. Nos. 4 and 5 straighten the hose out at the bottom of the ladder. No 6 at the hydrant opens the hydrant when No. 1 calls for water.
New York Fire Department Method
In the New York drill school, No. 1 is equipped with a lift belt having a large snap. When he gets to the third floor window he snaps the belt on the rung of the ladder, puts the hose through the ladder, puts a pipe strap on the hose, reaches over the next rung and lifts up the strap and hose and hooks on to the rung. No. 1 does not have to use a leg hold on the ladder.
Taking Line Down Ladder
In taking a line down off a ladder. No. 6 first closes the hydrant. No. 5 breaks the line one length back from the ladder. No. 4 takes a loop of hose on his shoulder and moves toward the ladder so that No. 3 can easily take his hose rope off the line. No. 3 then takes a loop of the hose on his shoulder and ascends the ladder about five rungs. No. 2 descends about four rungs, takes a loop of the hose on his shoulder and ascends to his hose rope and takes a leg hold on the ladder.
No. 1 removes the hook of his hose rope from the rung, pulls out the nozzle and places it over his shoulder and then releases his leg hold on the ladder. No. 2 backs off the rung and removes his hose rope from the hose. He releases his leg hold on the ladder and the three men descend to the ground.
Number of Men on Ladders
The following comment by Battalion Chief Thos. Larkin in charge of the New York Fire Department drill school, explains just what is expected of ladders in that department, and may be taken as a reliable guide for operations in fire service:
It would be well to state how many men should be allowed on ladders of various lengths. The number of men to be allowed depends on the length of the ladder:
Ladders 15 feet or less, 1 mail.
20 feet up to and including 30 feet, two men.
35 feet and over, 3 men.
This rule to only be applied when climbing or stretching hose lines up ladders. When working on ladders 25 feet or less in length the pipeman is to be the only man permitted on the ladder. For ladders over 25 feet in length, the pipeman is to be at the top (or whatever position on the ladder where it is necessary to operate stream) and the officer is to be ten feet below the pipeman to direct his movement.
One man should be constantly at the butt of the ladder. The above refers to operation after the line is in position, and is intended to prevent unnecessary crowding of men on ladders who are not necessary in the actual operation of the stream: three men are sufficient to stretch a line up any ladder 35 feet or over in length and only one man is needed to operate the nozzle after the line is in position, and properly secured.
There are a variety of evolutions which can be performed by combining ladder work with stair work in stretching lines into buildings, but the only one that is treated in this chapter is stretching a line up a ladder and into a fourthstory window, then up a stairway to the fifth floor and operating stream out of window.
For this evolution the procedure is as follows: A 2j/2-inch line of hose is connected to the hydrant and stretched in as far as the building. The length of the first stretch will be determined by the location of the hydrant. If in a drill yard, 150 feet (three lengths) of hose make a desirable stretch.
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The Volunteer Fire Department
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At the base of the ladder sufficient hose is connected to the line to reach the point desired. This additional hose is left in a pile for the moment.
How to Estimate Amount of Hose Needed
To determine how much slack hose will be required to reach from the base of the ladder to the sill of the fifth floor window, via the stairs between the fourth and fifth floors, the following rules may be used:
Allow one length of hose for each three stories when laid on ladder; allow one length of hose for each floor when stretched up a stairway; allow sufficient hose to reach the fourth floor window to stairway and from the stairs on the fifth floor to the window.
In this evolution, assume that the stairway is but a few feet from the window. Then the amount of hose necessary may be calculated as follows: One length of hose on ladder (from ground to 4th floor is three stories); one length from 4th floor up stairs to 5th floor window; total, 2 lengths, or 100 feet. Therefore 100 feet of hose will have to be connected to end of hydrant line at base of ladder.
After the ladder is raised and placed against the building, and the hose is ready, an order is given to stretch the line.
No. 1 takes the end of the line and moves to the bottom of the ladder. He connects the nozzle on the line. No. 1 then places the nozzle over his right shoulder and starts climbing the ladder.
No. 2 takes his place in the center of the first length with the hose over his right shoulder and follows No. 1 on the ladder.
No. 3 stations himself back of the first coupling on the second length, with the hose on his right shoulder and the coupling in front of him.
No. 4 stands near the center of the second length and with the hose over his right shoulder.
No. 5 is back of the first coupling on the third length, with hose over right shoulder and coupling in front.
Each man, with the exception of No. 1 has a loop in front of him reaching from his shoulder down to his feet.
Nos. 1 and 2 climb to the top of the ladder, step on the sill and jump in on the floor and ascend stairway to the fifth floor, where No. 1 places the pipe on the sill and calls for water. No. 2 straightens the hose in the building and moves up to the pipe with No. 1.
In the meantime No. 3 stops at the top of the ladder, takes a leg hold on the ladder and lays a coupling on the sill. He then places the hose rope around the hose, back of the coupling and hooks same to the ladder.
No. 4 stops just above the center of the ladder, takes a leg hold on the ladder, puts on his hose rope, places his hook over a rung and takes the loop off his shoulder facing the ground. He lets his loop slip down the ladder until the hose rope tightens up.
No. 5 climbs about four rungs on the ladder and stops there until No. 4 lets down his loop. No. 5 then descends to the ground and removes his loop from his shoulder and straightens out the hose, puts on his hose rope and places hook over a rung about five feet up from the ground.
No. 6, as his task in the evolution, takes position at the butt of the ladder and sees, that the hose lays straight against the ladder as the men ascend with the line. After No. 4 has started to ascend No. 6 runs back to the hydrant, and when No. 1 calls for water, No. 6 then opens the hydrant.
The evolution is completed when water comes from the nozzle.
Taking Line Down and Out of Building
When the order is given to take line out of the building and down ladder to ground, No. 6 shuts off water at hydrant. He then breaks line one length back from ladder. In doing this he straddles the hose, with his back towards the nozzle, and calls to No. 1 to relieve the pressure.
When No. 1 does so, the line is broken. Nos. 3, 4 and 5 thereafter take off their hose ropes (when the hose has drained), and the line is brought down the stairway and allowed to slide down the ladder until the pipe is at the top of the ladder.
In thus lowering the hose the men on the ladder feed it down, holding the couplings out so they will not strike against the rungs of the ladder. When the line is down so that the nozzle is over the top rung on the inside of the ladder. No. 5 at the bottom of the ladder picks up the hose, places it over his right shoulder and ascends about six rungs. At the same time No. 4 releases his leg hold, and descends about six rungs. Laying close to the ladder, he gets the hose on his right shoulder and ascends until he has a loop over his shoulder and down to his feet.
No. 1 then passes the nozzle over the top of the ladder to No. 3. who places it over his right shoulder, and then releases his leg hold on the ladder. The three men thereupon descend to the ground with the line. When they reach the ground No. 6 disconnects the nozzle.
Nos. 1 and 2 follow the others down the ladder. The line is then connected up again for the next operation.