Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

Do you have Pistol Grip Nozzles on your apparatus? Do you use the grip?
When do you use it?
If you do not use it why not?

Views: 1612

Replies to This Discussion

Yes we do, in both departments I am with. Please leave them, take them off. It ends up that most ff's will hold on the the grip and brace their arm to their side at hip level. This results in the nozzle being jammed against you and when you start moving the nozzle you have to lean back in a very unnatural position. Your range of motion is greatly reduced. Take the handle off and extend the nozzle out in front of you with the arm operating the nozzle fully extended. Give it a try both ways even with the handle on the nozzle you can still do it. If your department is going to purchase nozzles try both methods and have others do the same. Even worse when advancing you will see people pulling the nozzle by the handle and the nozzle will be behind them, sometimes they will be going backwards pulling it, that's just stupid. Get the nozzle in front of you and fight fire.
We have pistol grips on our nozzles. If I had my choice, I would remove them. I think that pistol grips are the dumbest thing ever invented and cause poor nozzlemanship. They cause the nozzle operator to hold the hoseline like a machine gun rather than out in front of them, thus decreasing the effectiveness of the fire stream. My recruits get about a ten minute lecture on why I hate the pistol grip and then are taught to ignore them and hold the pipe out in front of them. The only time I use the pistol grip is to hang the hose in a windowsill during overhaul operations.
I'll second that motion... We too have pistol grips on some of our nozzles. I have mentioned to my crew how much I hate them, and had all of the pistols removed from my engine :) With that said, I am definitely the minority in my department. For some reason, a lot of the guys claim to love the pistols, and of course they always end up fighting fire from the hip (go figure!). I have a feeling we are preaching to the choir here... I am with you guys, take 'em off if you can, and get that nozzle out in front. -Stay low... Aloha
Our dept only buys pistol grips (thank god some are of the smooth-bore variety). I don’t like them, they teach and reinforce bad habits in nozzleman. Our pistols actually can be removed using an Allen wrench, I've often threatened to remove the things and put them on the engine cowl for the next crew in case they feel they need them. They encourage the nozzleman to "choke up" on the nozzle were it ends up like a gun slinger right up against the chest instead of out in front of the body were it should be. This makes for lazy and poor nozzle movement, it also increases nozzleman fatigue...instead of at least three points of contact (pinned under the arm, against the chest) you get all the nozzle reaction on the hands and forearms so once again, increased fatigue means poor nozzle movement. Those are dangerous themselves but potentially deadly is the fact you can’t roll down to cover fire to the rear when the nozzle is up against the body. When the nozzle is out in front like it should be a wrap around fire could be handled by the back-up pinning the line to the floor while the nozzleman rolls it back over and overhead, but against the body that protective stream never gets there and the nozzle team risks being overran by fire. Having the pistol grip means crews need to be disciplined in their training and avoid the bad habits the pistol grip encourages. But they are gimmicky...and god knows fireman like gimmicks....heck you put a flashing LED on the thing my department would buy twice as many!
Yes, and they suddenly disappear when no one is looking! Saw Zalls work great! More importantly, we train our guys not to touch them, and they are for emergencies only, i.e. a hose gets away.
We took them off a couple of years ago!

There were two reasons we took them off, ease when packing our pre-connected attack lines and it forces the nozzleman to hold the nozzle in the proper position.
We do have pistol grips on our crosslays. I'm not a fan, but many are. The only time I use the grip is to pull the line out of the bed. This is a training issue, for my dept as well as others. Get the nozzle in front of you, get the job done right. Since we have them, it becomes my job as the boss to teach. If I fall down and let my company use them from the hip, it falls on myself and the other company officers. Training is the key to success, not an easy key to turn for sure.
pistol grip = saws all.
Eric Pistarelli said:
Yes we use pistol grips and I feel they do have an advantage in certain situations. Ian Bruzenak said "Even worse when advancing you will see people pulling the nozzle by the handle and the nozzle will be behind them, sometimes they will be going backwards pulling it, that's just stupid." Very true about going backwards being very dangerous this practice should not be done. Now if the lead man grabs the handle with one hand, faces forward with nozzle at or around his waist you can keep the other free arm out in front. This will allow you to feel out in front during low visibility but also allow you to advance the hose line at a very quick pace. Some might say you must keep the nozzle ahead at all times but in our community where I serve we have homes in the 15,000 sq. ft range you could be advancing 200 feet of hose before you even start getting anywhere close to the fire compartment. Once you get in close you must let go of the handle and hold the nozzle well out in front of you which it seems we all are in the same boat on this one.

The car fire can be an excellent place to use the pistol grip allowing you to put the hose over one shoulder holding the nozzle out ahead of you while holding the grip. You are able to get a nice downward angle to penetrate into the often low ride height of the vehicle and into the seats. I find this makes it a little easier to get the proper angle down and relatively little fatigue for the duration of the car fire. Obviously you can not hold the nozzle in this position during the entire event, you must switch around to get proper stream placement on the involved parts of the vehicle. This technique can make things a little easier for you during a portion of the fire.

The dreaded grip not allowing you to pull the hose off the transverse bed from the opposite side because it is getting jammed somewhere?. This may be a truck design flaw or it was not specified to the manufacturer that you will be using this style of nozzle. We have a truck that was outfitted with transverse bed cover at a later time and now it is impossible to pull the pistol grip nozzle from the opposite side, if you truck is like this unfortunately your jammed nothing can be done unless the cover or rails are adjusted. For us at our department most trucks have two transverse beds we will have one nozzle to either side. To aide the nozzle in sliding out we keep them upside down facing backwards as you pull them out of their respective sides.

I think the whole notion of guys being lazy and holding the pistol grip in a fire is a training issue. The modern day firefighter is more educated than ever, if their senior officers educate their firefighters on why you hold the nozzle out in front of you it will be done, just like you don't walk in a zero visibility environment. If your guys are continuing to hold the nozzle incorrectly than you have a much deeper issue than laziness. I'm interested to hear the comments on this one ha!

I don’t disagree on your points, getting hung up on the cross lay is a tuck speck issue, and the laziness associated with it is a training issue, unfortunately we (I) only have control over my crew (and to a larger extent crews that train with my company) and no say on how the trucks are speced. I would love to have more input on both, and have written up those very points but that does not guarantee results. If we did not have the pistol grips both problems would be to a small extent relieved so it's the chicken and the egg thing. Guys are better trained than ever....but who is training them and are/were they worth a crap to begin with. Luckily the fire service is being taken back over by students of the game instead of people looking for insurance benefits and the social should get nothing but better.
We don't have input on the rig specs, the nozzles, or the new highly educated firefighters! We do have input on training. We have pistol grips in my career department, but not in my volly house. I hate pistol grips, but that is my personal opinion. I think we all agree on the choking up deal and nozzle mobility, but I want to add which hand your firefighter is using to operate the shut off. Is your firefighter keeping one hand on the bell all the time and gripping the pistol grip with the other? If so there is a chance the firefighter may not have the nozzle all the way open or if using this position to move the nozzle they could accidently shut the flow down. The hand in this position is a definite NO-NO in my company. There should be a hand to open the nozzle then should be placed behind the first coupling. THe other hand should lock the hose to the hip area with the elbow bent and out to the side. The hose should not be up under the arm (chicken wing method) due to the fact you can't manage the nozzle reaction as well. Anyway, we do have a pistol grip on our 2 1/2 for use only in a hit and run type attack which is from the exterior. That primarily is like that because in my volly department, this firefighter may be performing this with only one person initially. This allows the 2 1/2 charged line to be pulled into place when it is NOT flowing water. Once the line is in position so are the hands for flowing.
We do have pistol grips on our lines. Since we have them, I try to teach our personnel that the pistol grip should only be used to help advance the line but to not use it when operating the line. I have limited success. I wish we could make a device that would shock the nozzleman if he/she tries to use when the line is open....:)
It is breath of fresh air to hear that I am not alone in this issue. I agree with the general consensus and I am really going to encourage the Department to get back to "Nozzlemanship." I am a Truck officer, but I am also a part of the Departments Training Staff. When I train, I always encourage not using the grip and to get the nozzle out in front of you in order to be able to better cover an entire room, make it easier on the backup Firefighter, and to reduce fatigue on the nozzleman. Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.


Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2024   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service