The hit and move method attack is less coordinated movement and more of an attack process; set up, flow, advance, repeat. The method utilizes high volume flow, stream reach, and the low nozzle reaction of the 1 1/8” smooth bore and 2 1/2'” line to allow a single firefighter to effectively “lay down cover” prior to each advancement.
Consider the numbers. With this weapon we are throwing 250 gallons per minute 30 to 50 feet into an enclosed structure. Flowing this line for 30 to 60 seconds suppresses a significant amount of fire and heat. A situation where a pause for advancement and set up is not created would be rare, but if it should occur the solution is simple. Hold your position and open the nozzle back up. I have found that using the hit and move method, a team of two firefighters can effectively and rapidly mounts a forward attack with the larger caliber line.
It should be understood, but bears repeating, the 2 ½” handline is not the right line for every occasion, especially in limited-staffing situations. With that said we must face our reality. Our cries for more staffing are not unheard, they are just falling on empty wallets and task-overloaded local governments. We must be adaptive and find ways to gain relative superiority or we relegate ourselves to the inherent weakness that is lack of firepower. The purpose of this article is to focus on the hit and move, ground-level advance of the 2 ½” handline with two firefighters. This method will assist small forces with effectively battling or initiating an operation on advanced fire conditions.
Set up, flow, advance, repeat. This will be the cadence of our attack. In our first series of photographs the process is initiated on the exterior. The line is deployed and set up for initial attack. I created two loops of hose, with the advancing line always lying over the top. This short section where the line is off the ground reduces some drag friction and work on the firefighter in the advance. You can also see that I have positioned the first coupling at the doorway. This provides a good point of reference and a solid point to grab as you bring that coupling into the structure preventing the potential hang up on the door jamb.
With the hose set up it is now time to grab the nozzle and work on my positioning. I bring the nozzle out in front of the center of my body with the bale at arm’s reach. I pinch the hose between my armpit and my thigh as I bring my back leg up. With my foot solid I roll my body on to the hose and lock my elbow in my inner thigh just above my knee. The ground work is now set and the nozzle opened. The reaction force comes into the core of the body and is distributed across the foundation. Due to the arm’s length of hose out in front, small movements at the base are amplified over the distance and the nozzle can be “whipped” around with ease. From this position you attack until you have determined the knockdown permits a safe advance and you move in, taking the nozzle forward by the bale and the line forward at the coupling
Set up, flow, advance, and now we move in. In this structure the exterior door brings us into the stairwell before making the interior hallway. This shortens our initial push as we only move a few feet into the structure from the exterior before we set up again. The important note is that this is not a sprint to the fire room, this is a calculated advance. We must take advantage of points of cover as we progress forward. The setup is very similar to the exterior—the coupling and nozzle are brought forward to the door and threshold. I take up the nozzle with sufficient hose in front and the elbow is locked in front of the raised knee, pinching down on the line. You can see that the body is square to the stream, however the stream is being manipulated in a clockwise fashion.
Set up, flow, and advance for making the interior. Once you have cleared the potential hang-ups of the initial doorways and thresholds with the coupling, the focus of the nozzle firefighter now becomes the advancement of his nozzle, and hose-movement duties fall to the second firefighter. Once again, when you have determined you have knocked back enough fire and heat to advance the flow is shut down and you advance, dragging the hose forward by the bale as it is fed in by the second firefighter. Once you reach the point where you want to set up, set the nozzle down, fall back down the line to that arm’s reach and establish the body position to flow again.
While the nozzle firefighter has established his first position on the interior and begins to flow, the back up firefighter starts to stock hose for the next push. This can be done by making loops in an open area like a foyer or room. In a hallway, hose can be stocked by creating an S. The S from wall to wall stocks hose so that when the next advance is made the natural desire of the hose to straighten, assisting the advancement of the hose. In this series of pictures you can see that the S in the hallway is straightened on the advance and the nozzle is moved forward into the fire room about 10 feet. For the nozzle firefighter the S of the hose creates greater friction with the ground in his immediate area while flowing. This helps take the nozzle reaction to the ground across a broader area. If the line is straight behind the nozzle firefighter it has greater tendency to “cheat back” on him.
Once the S is well established and the back-up firefighter is in position to feed hose, the nozzle firefighter should have an easier advance on his next move and he may be able to maintain the line in his armpit as he pushes to his next attack point.
The hallway also provides an added benefit of support. As the nozzle firefighter begins to fatigue on the advance he can lean into, or set up against, a wall to use the surface to counter nozzle reaction forces. Another method shown below is to run the hose between the legs and use a foot to pin it to the wall contrary to the armpit-lock method required when working in an open area.
One other alternative method to present is the knee-on-the-hose technique. This method is the easiest way for a single firefighter to flow a larger caliber line. The method favors smaller firefighters who struggle with the weight of the charged line or nozzle reaction, or firefighters who are getting fatigued by the work and advance. It is also a great method for use in an open-floor or exterior attack where a wall is not present to support. We are all familiar with the “sit on the loop” method of a single firefighter 2 ½” flow. However, sitting on hose is a passive position and stationary. The knee-on-the-hose has a forward focus. Shut down and advance with a straight drag very quickly, then by taking the nozzle reaction straight to the ground with your body weight on the knee, the work load on the firefighter is minimized.
Advance to your point of set up and drop back on the line until you are arm’s reach from the bale. But rather than lift the hose into your armpit, place a knee on the hose and raise the nozzle to about a 45-degree position. When you open the bale drop one hand back to the knee and split the distance with the other. This leaves the bale fully open to operate and allows for great play, or “whip,” in the line with minimal movements back at the foundation.
Set up, flow, advance, set up, flow, advance, set up, flow, advance. You are now at the final push, ready to make the turn. Your exhausted, but in control. You have battled the fire back and as the line continues to knock it down you start to review the plan for your last move. You have great position. Looking behind you down the line you see your back up has stocked you with enough hose to make the final push. He starts moving up the line to support you and fight together through the last doorway. You do not accomplish anything with a plan alone; it only serves as a guide to action. If you wish to increase the effectiveness of your single-line engine company you must take these ideas; test, repeat, modify and prove them.