The Modified Minuteman Load
The minute man load is a popular hose load used on many apparatus across America, and it happens to be my favorite load of all the options I’ve seen. I feel as if the minute man load, in whichever configuration you have it loaded, is more versatile than other popular loads. This is of course dependent upon the structures in your district, setback of those structures, and everything else we must navigate when pulling our hand lines. If you’re district has a multitude of these items, as does mine, then you should have no problems with the minuteman load, or a modified version of it.
I feel like the minute man load is the most versatile load because it affords the firefighter pulling the line many options once the load is shouldered and stretched. If the building set back is short or long, they have options, if there are trees, fences, or cars to navigate around; they have options. The flat and triple layer loads are not bad hose loads, and if setup properly and for the right district, can be successful. They offer some options, but not as many as the minute man load would afford you. It all boils down to loading your hose the correct way and practicing pulling it. When you’ve mastered how to pull it in a more controlled setting (your ramp or parking lot), then head out in your district and practice in live scenarios with cars, breezeways, fences, trees, and various setback distances. You can never get enough practice with pulling hand lines. It is a basic task, but there are many things that can make the stretch tough and cause problems and you and your firefighters must know how to navigate them.
Loading the Modified Minuteman Load
In my department we run 200 foot modified minute man loads. This hose load is similar to a true minute man, except that it is broken down into two single stacks of 100 foot each side by side, versus a combination double stack of 100 foot sections set on top of each other with the nozzle in the middle of the load and the additional 100 foot laid on top of it. They pull in similar fashion, have the same features, and afford the firefighter pulling the line the same options from the shoulder or at their drop point to finish their stretch. The key to having a successful stretch is loading the hose the correct way in the first place. There are some rules of thumb for loading a minuteman or modified version of it and they are as followed:
Parts of the Modified Minuteman Load
It’s good to know the terminology used for your hose loads so everyone is on the same page when loading it back. It needs to be loaded the same way every time to prevent any confusion and aid in a smooth stretch for every firefighter and shift. The nozzle and first 100 foot of the hose load is known as the “minuteman” side. This is the side that is shouldered and carried to the drop point location. This is loaded with the male coupling (nozzle) on the bottom of the hose load, with or without a tail, and ends with the female coupling on top. The other 100 foot of hose is what I call the supply side. This side is a simple flat load with the female coupling connected to the pumper and the male coupling ending on top. Just to make note, they’re both loaded in the same fashion with an accordion or flat load, the couplings are just reversed, it's simple. This leaves you with a male and female on top of the load to connect together, giving you your 200 foot load. Then all that’s left is connecting your nozzle if that hasn’t been done already or connecting to your apparatus if you have top connections instead of bottom like we do. You start loading the supply side first and the minuteman side last.
The next two parts of the load we will talk about are very important. These two terms can make or break the stretch. They both go on the supply side of the hose load and if they’re placed in the proper spots, the stretch becomes easier, which improves speed and efficiency. If they’re not placed in the load at all, or put in the wrong position, the stretch becomes more difficult, slower, and less effective. The first part is the dump bight (pull loop). This bight in the hose is placed at the second fold on the supply side of the hose load. So, once you’ve connected to the apparatus, you lay one layer of hose down, and the second layer needs to go beyond the first and create a bight or loop. If this loop is placed on the first layer, the firefighter pulling on it is just pulling on the apparatus connection, which in turn means they’re not dumping the load at all. The second bight is placed at the halfway mark and I like to place mine on the first layer past the 50 foot coupling connection. This gives you two bights (loops) in the hose load, a dump and half bight. These bights are only placed on the side of the apparatus the load is designed to be pulled from, not both sides of the apparatus, and they only go on the supply side of the load.
Stretching the Modified Minuteman Load
Okay, so we have covered the terms and how to load the modified minuteman, now let’s talk about how to stretch it. There is a method to the madness. The minuteman side (nozzle) is shouldered and secured with one hand. It is important to keep your arm and hand pressing tight down on the load to secure it to your shoulder and prevent the load from slipping off. The firefighter pulls a couple feet out of the hose bed, shoulders it, and steps away from the apparatus. Then, the firefighter should take a short step backwards towards the apparatus, turn their body, and grasp both of the bights on the supply side at the same time. If the firefighter turns to sharp some of the shouldered load could slip off and wrap the top of their bottle, this is why you step backwards. When the firefighter has grasped both of the bights in their hand they walk away from the apparatus and towards their drop point location. The dump bight should tighten up within 10-15 foot of the apparatus and you let it go, then continue walking another 45-50 feet and the half bight will tighten and you drop it as well. You have now cleared the bed and stretched the bottom 100 foot of the load. You are now left with the splitting options we will cover in the next blog post. These options are on the firefighter stretching the line and dependent on the setback, obstacles, and entry point.
There are several common hose loads that are used on apparatus all across the country every single day, but the minuteman or a version of it, like this modified minuteman; is my favorite. I will follow this post up with another one that covers selecting the drop point, splitting the line, getting the first coupling to the door, and keeping the hose in line with the entry point. If you don’t follow First-In Firefighter on Facebook, head over and do so today. I will post a short video in a few days of this load being stretched by a single firefighter and calling for water in a short amount of time. I will also post follow up videos for the rest of the series.