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Perhaps this seems like a silly post, but I'm wondering if anyone actually practices stretching their hoselines in anything other than a drill tower or acquired structure. Primarily, do you actually practice stretching your lines in apartment buildings and other buildings that are occupied and in use? If you do, what have your experiences been with occupants/building managers?

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Not a silly post at all. My company stretches on every box alarm, odor of smoke, and chimney fire....regardless if it appears to be a working incident. Our response area contains a large amount of detached private dwellings, townhouses, garden apartments, strip shopping centers, and mid-rises. There are a few reasons we stretch everytime: if it's a working incident we are prepared and not playing catch-up, stretching in a "real world" setting provides challenges and obstacles you don't get in a drill tower, we learn how far our lines can take us and become proficient in making up lines if they don't reach, and if it turns out to be a good intent call we essentially conducted a hands on drill. This has proved to be very successful for my company and ensures we are always operating in the mind set that when the alarm is transmitted for a fire, it will be a working fire when you get there. Proactivity instead of reactivity. We have never had any issues with property management or building occupants. Sometimes citizens ask why we go through the motions for calls that aren't obvious working incidents and they are usually happy when we explain that we're doing it so we are proficient in the instance it is a working incident. Hope this helps.
We've done it in the past in several condo buildings (every once in a blue moon), and most of the building staff and residents were okay with it as long as we didn't bring the charged lines into the interior hallways (most of our buildings like this have open/exterior halls). We also tried to keep to the lesser occupied side of the buildings when it was possible. I think this is a good post, as it gives you something to think about. You can get so used to stretching up/down/through the same old training tower, you can forget about all the little things that come with making your way through a "real" building.
We will go out to the apartment complexes and practice laying lines for various attacks. We just use caution (especially in the elderly apartments) to not make a dangerous situation with the hoses. We will also go to the buildings and homes while under construction and lay lines through them before they put carpet in or finish the flooring.

Ask permission from the owner or managers first!
Same goes here. We practice on everything from an old high rise hotel that was under renovation to open and vacant sfd. We try and stay away from the places that are occupied most of the time unless it's an actual alarm. I like to have the end result of the training to flow water and demonstrate application. They tend to not like us washing the bed out the windows.....

A great source of structures for us has been one of the local demolition companies. They call the department when they have structures they are getting ready to tear down and we get to use them for drills. You'd be suprised how many you can get and the different types.
I just took my company out to do training in an occupied strip mall. But we did the training on a Saturday morning before the businesses opened. That training 1 time was more beneficial to us than going to the tower 5 times! The owners showed up as we were picking up the tools and asked us what was going on? When we said we were training to put a fire out in her building she was happy to see us do that! She told us to come back anytime we wanted to! I plan to take my company out our next Saturday shift and do the same thing at a different complex.

Training is Key!!
We too, drill in occupied and vacant structures in our district. The occupied ones we try to let the supers know prior to the drill and the tenants usually don't care. The vacant ones, it really doesn't matter, we just have to be careful of the needles, feces, etc. when performing the drill. This is the only way you'll get good at estimating, stretching, and advancing the line. Don't forget to add water where possible!


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