Article after article is written by many in regards to placing the first line into operation. Since this is one of the most basic fundamentals of being a firefighter, why do we have so much trouble in placing the first line into operation correctly? Is it, because we are moths drawn to a flame? Is it not being able to think on your feet? Is it tunnel vision? Or is it ignorance? We as fire service professionals have to get past the “yanking” it off the truck mentality. Take time when you get to the engine. It doesn’t matter if you call them preconnects, speed-lays or cross-lays. It doesn’t matter what load is carried. One thing that all fire hose loads have in common is they will all become a big pile of spaghetti and have multiple kinks in the line if not deployed correctly.
One simple maneuver will help the deployment and actually speed the process and prevent frustration. Pull the line away from the point of entry (Where you are going to go in and attack the fire). Clear the hose bed, put tension on the line. NOW proceed towards the door. Nothing to in depth here. You may be wondering, well we don’t have a building to train in. Go to the local park. Pick an object that would be the “front” door and deploy your handline. This will give you practice on obstacles and having to size up your deployment. Use the parking lot of the station, use a traffic cone as your point of entry and go in between the parked vehicles. Go to a new house being built and talk with the crews. Explain what you want to do and see if they will let you deploy your handlines. Let them know it is all outside work. Obstacles are good practice, because we never ever encounter obstacles on the fireground. Empty parking lots never allow us the chance to practice around obstacles. If you have a burn building or training tower then great. Practice outside/inside hose advances. If you don’t have either of those. Then use the apparatus bays. You see where I am going with this. These aren’t three hour drills. These are quick drills that 4 or 5 people can accomplish in an hour to an hour and a half with everyone getting their chance to pull line. Even the officer and engineer needs to have a little hands on time.
Why, you ask? Keep in mind that “Murphy’s Law” will come into play somewhere during the working fire. Remember that selecting the appropriate sized hose line is important. Putting the line into operation without a hitch is even more important.