By Mark van der Feyst
It is vital that firefighters hone the skills necessary to get water to and on a fire in order to avoid interruption of suppression efforts.
Part 1 of this series, in the August issue, covered the steps and skills needed to get water from the hydrant or water supply to the truck. The next step is advancing the preconnect hand line.
Most fire trucks in service today have at least two pre-connected hoselines ready to go when needed. The main purpose of a preconnect is to reduce the time it takes to unload the hose from the truck, roll or deploy it out, hook it up to the pump discharge outlet and then charge the line with water.
With a preconnected hoseline, firefighters need only pull off the hoseline from the hose bed and flake it out so that it is ready for water. These two steps can be practised with the following drill.
There are a few options available for loading a preconnect hoseline. All options are all variations of the flat load with perhaps a loop or two for easy pulling, or perhaps a minuteman load with easy pull off and easy deployment.
The basic hose load is the flat load with no loops or variations. As you can see in photo 1, the basic flat load has all of the hose ends lined up evenly at the edge of the hose bed. The nozzle lies on top of the hose load. Advancing this basic type of hose load can be done in one of two ways: the efficient (right) way or the long (wrong) way.
Photo 2 shows the long way. One firefighter grabs the nozzle and starts to walk toward the door of the building or fire location. The single action produces a spaghetti noodle. Just as a spaghetti noodle is produced from a press, a pre-connect hoseline that contains 60 metres (200 feet) of hose will produce a very long line of hose as it is pulled off of the truck.
As the firefighter with the nozzle pulls at the hose, the remainder of the line is pulled off the truck by either the backup firefighter or the driver/pump operator. This method is a time-consuming way to pull hose off the truck and ready it for advancement into the structure. Also, at the door of entry for the attack, the nozzle is attached to a straight line of hose extending back to the truck. It will now take a great effort to advance the line into the building. This method of hose deployment is a waste of time and resources.
The efficient or right way to pull the load off the truck is to use the folds of the hose as leverage. As you can see in photo 1, the flat load has many loops from the folds that are the perfect size into which to insert fingers. With gloved hands, a firefighter can use three of four fingers per loop to pull a half portion of the load off the truck in one movement. In the same movement, the hose is thrown on the ground to the firefighter’s left side.
Repeat the motion with the remaining folds to pull the rest of the load off of the truck. The second section of the load is thrown to the ground on the firefighter’s right side.
In two quick movements, a firefighter has the entire hose load on the ground and ready to be flaked out. Now, lying on the ground with the nozzle are the couplings of the line.
Depending upon the number of hose lengths that were packed for the preconnect, there will be three or four couplings on the ground: two on one side and one or two on the other side. A firefighter grabs the nozzle from the one side and looks for a coupling on the other side. Once both are in hand, the firefighter starts to walk toward the door for entry.
If the hose load is pulled off the truck the efficient way, the entire hoseline should flake out by the time the firefighter gets to the door of the structure. The firefighter will also have the nozzle and one coupling in hand.
Depending on which coupling the firefighter grabbed, he or she will have either 30 metres (100 feet) or 15 metres (50 feet) of extra hose. Having the nozzle and coupling at the door is a more efficient and easier way to advance the line into the structure.
Marking the middle coupling in your hose load will help ensure the firefighter grabs the right one every time.
Once the hose is stretched to the door, the backup firefighter can help by flaking out the line so that there are no kinks. At this point the firefighters are ready for water.
Photo 3 shows an example of the improper way to flake out hose. The hose should be lined up perpendicular as opposed to parallel to an entry point. Try pulling/advancing a hose around the corner of a building – it will work against you and you will fatigue quickly. Firefighters should line up their hoses in the direction of their travels to ease advancement.
In the next issue, we will look at getting water from the truck to the nozzle and then making entry to get water to and on the fire.
Mark van der Feyst has been in the fire service since 1999 and is a full-time firefighter in Ontario. Mark teaches in Canada, the United States and India. He is a local-level suppression instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy and an Instructor for the Justice Institute of BC. He is also the lead author of Pennwell’s Residential Fire Rescue book. Mark@FireStarTraining.com