Fire Fighting in Canada

Trainer’s Corner


Trainer's Corner
Exclusively online this month, Ed Brouwer, the chief instructor for Canwest Fire in Osoyoos, B.C., looks at advancing the attack hose.

February 23, 2009  By Ed Brouwer

of Firefighting and Emergency Response describes attack
hose as a small- to large-diameter hose used to supply nozzles and other
applicators or protective system for fire attack. Attack hose commonly means
handheld hose lines from one to two inches (38 or 63 millimetres) in diameter.

normal situations it is thought to be more effective to get the first line
charged before starting to lay the next. Due to the limited manpower in most
departments, firefighters are usually required on scene to connect to the water
source, run the pump and lay out the hose line. After the first line is
completed, start the second.

structural fires are extinguished by the first hose line. If the first hose
line stretched is sent to the right location and it extinguishes the blaze, the
second hose line will not be needed or is stretched only as a precaution.

pump operator is responsible for clearing the hose bed prior to charging any of
the lines. Laying one hose at a time is usually the surest way to get it right
the first time. In the middle of the night, things can get pretty confusing on
the fire ground and sorting out that pile of spaghetti can take a lot of
valuable time.


goal is to advance hose lines to the seat of the fire to apply water for
extinguishment. Whether onto, around or into the structure, this task needs to
be done safely and efficiently. 

Before entering the building with a charged
line, open the nozzle to bleed the air
and check the nozzle pattern. Consideration should also be given to the two in,
two out rule.

to Work Safe BC G31.23 Entry into buildings, issued April 27, 2000, Section 31.23 of the OHS
regulation states:

When self-contained breathing apparatus must be used to enter a building, or
similar enclosed location, the entry must be made by a team of at least 2
(2) Effective voice communication must be maintained between firefighters
inside and outside the enclosed location.
(3) During the initial attack of an incident at least one firefighter must
remain outside.
(4) A suitably equipped rescue team of at least 2 firefighters must be
established on the scene before sending in a second entry team and not more
than 10 minutes after the initial attack.
(5) The rescue team required by subsection (4) must not engage in any duties
that limit their ability to make a prompt response to rescue an endangered
firefighter while interior structural firefighting is being conducted."

Here are a few additional considerations. <bu>

  • All
    personnel on the attack line should be on the same side of the hose.
  • Check
    exterior doors for heat prior to opening. Use the back of your hand start
    at the bottom of the door and move up slowly.
  • Notify
    your team and the IC as to the height of the thermal layer. Each
    department has different SOGs regulating entry into a burning structure
    based on the thermal layer height.
  • For doors
    that open inward, stay low and to the side of it to prevent hot gases and
    fire from blowing out on to you.
  • For doors
    that open outward, stay behind the door and use it as a shield against the
    danger of hot gases and fire blowing out on to you. </bu>

the door is open and it is safe to do so, look quickly in the opposite
direction of your search route for victims (if doing a left hand search, look
right). Firefighters advancing the first attack line through a doorway often
come across victims on the way to extinguishing the fire.

Remember to sound the floor before entering the structure.
Feel walls and floors and check the ceiling periodically to test for fire
above, below or beside you as you move through the structure. (See FFICMark
van der Feyst.)  
December 2008 Back to Basics – Hose line advancement tips by

If you require assistance moving the attack line through the
front door the exterior back-up team can be used.

When advancing a charged hose line inside a structure and up
a stairwell or landing, apply water from the bottom of the stairs to darken
down the fire, then shut down the nozzle and, after sounding the floor, advance
quickly up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, open the nozzle and continue
suppression tactics. Note: Be sure you have sufficient hose and personnel
available to move up to the next floor without having to stop on the

When advancing an attack line down a stairway, firefighters
will encounter rising heat, hot gases and possibly fire. Use great caution,
making sure to sound the stairs for structural integrity. Watch for flashover
and remember that you may actually be advancing down through a stairwell that
is acting as a chimney. Once at the bottom of the stairs, continue to advance
the hose line to the seat of the fire.

advancing the attack line may be the most vital tactic in the offensive
interior attack strategy, it is certainly the most dangerous. Vincent Dunn, in Safety and
Survival on the Fireground
writes that there are 10
unexpected dangers that could kill or seriously injure firefighters advancing
the initial attack hose line: rollover; flashover; backdraft explosion;
overcrowding behind the attack team; wind blowing fire in the path of the
attack team; passing fire that threatens to cut off retreat; ceiling collapse;
floor collapse; master streams directed into the interior; and incorrect size-up
from the interior of the building.

where and when to advance the attack line is a very critical and complex
decision, one this column cannot fully address. I highly recommend you research
the topic further. In our next issue we will look at working above a fire. Until
then stay safe and remember to train like their lives depend on it, because
they do.   

Tips for efficient hose line advancement

1. Use solid
stream nozzles or set fog nozzles on straight stream setting.
2. Stay low upon entering fire area
to let heat and gases vent before moving in.
3. Before door to fire area is
opened, all firefighters should be positioned on same side of entrance and
remain low.
4. Crack nozzle and bleed air out of
line ahead of water.
5. If fire shows at top of door as
opened, ceiling should be hit with solid or straight stream to cool and control
fire gases.
6. Sweep floor with stream to cool
burning debris and hot surfaces.
7. Do not open stream until fire can
be hit, unless firefighter safety is involved.
8. Direct the stream at the base of
fire if localized.
9. As the advance is made, the angle
of stream should be lowered and an attempt made to hit the main body of fire.
10. When the main body of fire is
knocked down, shut down the stream and let the area vent.
11. When the fire is knocked down,
shut down the nozzle.
12. Upon entering an area that is
very hot and finding no fire, withdraw immediately and check the area below.
13. When attacking basement fire
down interior stairs, straight stream should be used because fog will generate

Other considerations

1. Do not attack
the fire from more than one direction to avoid driving heat and fire at the
opposing crew.
2. Co-ordinate ventilation with fire
attack to reduce fire spread.
3. Ventilate just prior to
initiating fire attack to reduce the heat level and provide an avenue for steam
4. Do not open the nozzle until you
are sure of the location of all crew members and others working in the area,
and that no one is in the doorway.
5. Knock down the fire and then move
in to extinguish hot spots.
6. If you cannot see your feet in
the smoke, you should be crawling and not standing up.
7. Always have an escape plan.
8. Try to avoid letting fire cut off
your escape route.
9. Stay with your crew and officer,
watch out for each other.

Courtesy Michael Lee and the Maryland Fire And Rescue Institute


Brouwer is the chief instructor for Canwest Fire in Osoyoos, B.C., and the
training officer for West
Boundary Highway
Rescue. The 19-year veteran of the fire service is also a fire warden with the
B.C. Ministry of Forests, a wildland interface fire suppression
instructor/evaluator and a fire-service chaplain. Contact Ed at 

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