Long Lug Out
Smooth, Bump, Bump, to the Pump
We were going over this basic firefighter safety drill with a class a while ago. I started the evolution by letting them know that this should not even count as a skill. Just like putting on your pants or SCBA. You should know it as if you have always known it, as if you cannot remember ever NOT knowing it.
I can remember once as a truckie I may have followed the burn a bit too far while overhauling and ended up finding some fire. Now having not paid attention to where I was going I was actually a bit distant from the other companies. I needed a line and did not know what part of the building I was in to direct it to my location. I found a couple lines in the hallway and heard some voices but could not tell which direction they were coming from. I laid a chair down in the door to mark the room and followed a line up to the pipe where the engine crew was. They were not the direction I thought they were in. I remember looking at the first coupling I saw and thinking “long lug on the right, pump on the right, I want to go left”.
The best way to get familiar with this skill is practice.
The first time we do the drill is with full gear and SCBA, not on air. The face piece is in place, with a flash hood on backwards over it to obstruct their view. The second time is on air with a smoke insert, then with a smokey trash barrel (just wet hay) for the third time. The basic premis is to start off as a search and then something happens causing them to broadcast a Mayday etc. We have a mannequin in a relatively obvious spot to start and gradually make it harder to find.
The basic outline of the drill goes like this;
1.The trainee waits outside the room, enters and does a good search as assigned (Left or Right).
2.When the trainee finds the mannequin they notify the IC with a LIP report; Location, Identification, Problem then attempts to move the victim out of the area.
3. Tell the recruit it’s time for a mayday. LIP report “Mayday Mayday Mayday, Firefighter Saltysatche on the 3rd floor Alpha side, My flashlight is dead and I’m afraid of the dark” or whatever.
4. Trainee receives orders from command (attempt self rescue), then activates PASS device WITH GLOVES ON. Then turns PASS off again (so we can work in peace and quiet). Everything has to be done with gloves on.
5. Trainee finds a line, then finds a coupling and orients themselves and heads in the proper direction.
6. Trainee stays on the same line after finding a coupling.
7. Trainee properly negotiates obstacles. Backwards down steps distributing weight, etc.
8. Gives a report to IC upon exiting (or being told they have exited).
There are 2 ways of running this drill; the line charged and uncharged. I think the charged line version is better and more realistic. The uncharged version is fine for long, complicated paths out, the ones where you have them go over and under furniture etc. The uncharged is also easier to make up.
I think the charged line version is more realistic because honestly, most lines in the building are going to be charged. I like to have the main body of the line in one room for the charged line drill. The pipe in a different room and the rest of the line leading to the pump (or hydrant) leading down some stairs so they negotiate the stairs last and keep the evolution in an easy to manage area. At a real incident there may be a couple lines run right next to each other and may also be intertwined. This is most likely the case at fires that have restricted access to the seat of the fire, or long sprawling buildings. Running the line in loops and figure 8’s before you charge it will help replicate this, and add a bit of difficulty.
I like to start the Maydayin the middle of the room after finding the “victim”. Make sure they find a line and then work to a coupling. If they find the pipe first they will have learned nothing, if they cannot figure out they are at the end of the line when they find the pipe they are in the wrong business. Finding and negotiating a coupling is the reason for this drill. The other reason for having all the line in one room is to make it more difficult (hopefully) than it will be in the real world. It is not easy to follow a tangled charged line.
Start with the pump side on the ground first and then stack all the lengths on top, then you can guarantee a longer evolution if you start them all in the same general area.
If it’s a small room lay a large traffic cone over the lines. They will keep moving it from their path, into their path. It’s pretty funny to watch.
Run 2 lines if you want to be mean. 2 different sizes and then specify which one they have to follow out.
Stand them up, spin them around a few times right after they give the mayday before you let them look for a line.
On a final note. Newer hoses are coming out with the direction of exit marked on them. I can only shake my head in awe at yet another useless advance in fireservice marketing. If these markings appeal to you as a safety backup, fine. If these markings appeal to you because gosh darn those things that the water runs through sure look confusing, maybe you should do a little back to basics training. Identifying how the hose is laid should not require any more information than the coupling itself.