Many of us have heard the phrase, “As the first line goes, so goes the fire”. But how did that first line get there?
Certainly handline operations are something that we could discuss for hours and there are many different hoseloads and techniques that exist to accomplish the same goal. But what is that goal?
That goal should be to arrive at the fire area with the nozzle and 50′ of hose, enough for the fire floor. The hose should be flaked out so that it can be advanced easily into the fire area, and so that it is free of kinks. The un-stated part is that you must have enough hose to get that 50′ there. What techniques were you taught to estimate the stretch? I was taught 50 for the fire floor, 50 for each floor to get there and 50 from the truck to the building. Of course in my area 50′ might not get you halfway tot he front door anymore, as the lots are bigger and the houses set further back.
Like so many of the basics, I think we are losing some of the skills we need when it come to stretching lines and estimating the stretch. Crosslays or mattydales have taken some choices away from us but have also simplified some operations.
How many have seen the “grab and go”? Where the nozzle firefighter grabs the nozzle and then runs to the front door, the result being a taut line from the truck to the front door. Or the “spaghetti pile” where 150′ of hose is pulled from the crosslay and dumped in a pile on the ground while the nozzle is stretched?
We load our crosslays with two sets of loops or ears? 1 ear is set in the bottom 50′ length so that the bed can be cleared easily, and the other is in the first 50′ so that the nozzleman can grab the nozzle and the first 50′ and stretch it to the fire. It makes no difference in time to set our hoseloads up this way, but makes a huge difference when time is of the essence on the fireground.
So the next shift go out and look at your hoseloads. Are they set up so that you can easily stretch your attack lines? Practice pulling them, not only does this give you the practice, but it also allows you to determine how long it will take. That time can be crucial when your officer is trying to think where the fire is going, not just where it is now.