By Brian Zaitz
We all know the importance of water on the fire; this is the most critical fireground function, and it must not be delayed. Control and extinguishment of the fire makes the fireground exponentially safer for civilians and firefighters. This task is often completed with a preconnected attack line varying in size from 1½ to two inches with some type of nozzle to obtain a desired pattern. Preconnects normally range in length from 100 to 200 feet with some 300-foot preconnects being available. Deploying this handline is likely done at almost every working fire, so I ask, Why is that we spend so little time training, reviewing, and honing this essential tool and skill set?
This article reviews three separate configurations for setting up a preconnect and discusses the pros and cons of each. The key is to match the load with staffing and likely deployment situations. No matter which setup you choose, you must train and continually drill on it to be successful on the fireground.
This basic preconnected load is easy to facilitate and is normally in line with other loads found on the truck, i.e., large-diameter and three-inch hose. The flat load begins like all others. You connect the hose to the discharge in the preconnect well, and the hose is then loaded back on top of itself, moving back and forth across the hosebed until the desired length of hose is loaded. Options include inserting loops or “dog ears” into the load at the 100-foot mark to allow that amount to quickly be deployed from the apparatus.
Although this load is an easy one to accomplish, it does not provide many options; no hose can be loaded onto the firefighter’s shoulder for carrying to the actual deployment or building entrance. In addition, this load, if not correctly executed, has a tendency to create the “spaghetti” effect near the pump panel.
Triple Flat Load
This is another popular load, and similar to a flat load. A section of hose is connected to the apparatus, the desired amount of hose is connected to the initial section, and all sections are then stacked three high. For example, if the desired overall length of the preconnect is 150 feet, three 50-foot sections would be stacked one on top of another. The stack is then flat-loaded onto the apparatus. This load is easy to master, but it always requires an overall length of one-third of the preconnect to assemble.
Similar to the flat load, you cannot carry any portion of the hose to the deployment site, and it requires the firefighter to deploy a minimum of one-third of the overall length, making it not optimal for the short stretch. This load does an excellent job of clearing the hosebed in a timely manner and rarely creates the “spaghetti” effect by the apparatus.
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This load is similar to the flat load in that it creates a bundle option. The load starts like all others—with a connection of a section to the apparatus, then all but 100’ are loaded in a single stack in the pre-connect well. The next stack then starts with the male end of the hose, creating a similar single stack. The two stacks are connected at the top, completing the load.
This option is versatile because the 100-foot stack can be shouldered and carried to the deployment site; if you need a longer stretch, the hose begins to slack off the shoulder, requiring no action other by the firefighter. Additionally, you can easily manipulate the hose at the deployment site to allow the hose to be in line and perpendicular to the door, creating fewer kinks. This is essentially a flat load, with one side reverse-loaded, making it easy to learn. The negative to this is that this load is different and requires training and drilling to master loading and deployment.
This is by no means an entire list of loads, and no one hose load is perfect; each has its pros and cons. Do not be afraid to try new loads. Experiment, and see what fits your apparatus. No matter what hose load you choose, drill on it! Take the time to pull a line, load it, and pull it again.
Download this training bulletin as a PDF HERE (3.38 MB)
Brian Zaitz is a 14-year student of the fire service, currently assigned as the captain/training officer with the Metro West (MO) Fire Protection District. Brian is an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC as well as instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy. Brian holds several degrees, including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelors in fire science management, and a masters in human resource development. Brian is currently and accredited chief training officer and student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.
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