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What is your department's criteria for stretching a 2-1/2" line as the 1st line?
Is it by SOP, by occupancy, fire size, by the Officer's decision?
Have you ever had an instance where it was used as a first line and probably should not have been? How did it affect the job?

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Our SOG's dictate the usage of a 2 1/2 hand line for any commercial fire. However, it is also up to the officer's discretion when it will be pulled as a first atack line on any fire. I have had the need to use it for a structure fire in the past, based on needed fire flow.
Our SOP's give the company officer only vague guidance on stretching big lines. But it is generally accepted on the job that if we arrive with advanced fire, either offensive or defensive mode, a fire of unknown size or undetermined location, or a standpipe stretch, we stretch in the 2 1/2. We also know that when the first in engine advises that they are pulling a big line the engine that normally stretches the back up line will join in with the first engine to help advance the 2 1/2 ( we have minimum manning of an officer and 2 firefighters on engine co's. ). The engine that normally streches to the floor above takes a back up line with the 4th. engine, and additional units are special called to plug the gaps. it's not perfect but it usually allows us to hit the fire quickly with a good punch.
Commercial structure fire 2.5" line. Yes, we have pulled it and not needed it, no big deal, put out the fire and put it away. Much, much better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, We also run with an officer and two, another engine is usually used to assist, not always. Seems to work for us.
It is the officers decision, but this is one where the firefighter on the back should not need direction to pull the proper line from the start. There are very few hard rules on this job but this is one of them, pull the 2 ½ for any commercial building. Do not make the mistake of basing line size by the volume of fire to many firefighter lives have been lost by this criteria. If you have light smoke from a commercial building pull the 2 ½. We have to be prepared for the volume of fire we could have. The time to get that big line in place is from the start when it is more conducive to facilitate a clean stretch
Running a 2 1/2" line as the first line for fire attack is the officers discretion. However, the decision is aided by training and by S.O.P. A 2 1/2" line should be run as the initial attack line if the fire, upon arrival, is of such magnitude as to render the 1 3/4" line, our other primary attack line, useless. A 2 1/2" line will be the initial line whenever exposure protection is the primary goal of the first arriving engine company. This is primarily the case when a master stream cannot be rapidly placed in the best location (ie) in the rear of a building, up an alley or driveway. In these cases the "big line" is the best option. The 2 1/2" line will also be the first line stretched into commercial occupancies, regardless of what is showing. This is due to the anticipated heavy fire load you that can be expected in these buildings. The key to using the 2 1/2" line successfully is continued training with it. We use multi level parking garages in our city as training buildings for the 2 1/2" line. They have concrete stairways that will not suffer any damage during the drill and once you reach the level you want, you can charge the line and flow water down the garage ramps. We have had many successful "big line" drills in parking garages. Also if the first due engine stretched a 1 3/4" line for initial fire attack, the second due will run a 2 1/2" line to back them up.
Stretching the 2-1/2" as the initial attck line is based on fire conditions and officer's discretion. Remember, big fire, big water. The best thing we can do for the safety of trapped occupants and the crews working is put the fire out. When using the "Big Line" use the reach of the stream to knock down heavy fire, then advance and continue with fire control/extinguishment.

We run 1-2 on all of our Engine Co's. and have stretched the "Big Line" several times in the past months due to the large volume of fire upon arrival of the first due Engine. That made a big difference in the final outcome of the fire, seeing a quick knockdown. Remember though, if you pull the 2-1/2" you are using a lot of water fast so either get a supply line established or if in a rural area, have a Tanker/Tender supply the Attack Engine.

We are fortunate that we have a good water supply with over 1600 hydrants in the city. However, we do have a large rural area with no water supply other than static sources and our Engine 6 which is a 2000 Gal. Tanker. 2 of our first run Engines have 750 Gallons of water and 1 has 1000 Gallons of water so we can work for a few minutes while we get a water supply established.
great
i'm glad we are making use of the bigger lines at the proper times
we can always adjust to smaller if required, but if there is a need for a big line and we stretch a smal one, we may never be able to catch up to a fast spreading fire
not only should we be thinking big fire big h2o, but also big building, big h2o so don't stretch a small line into a big bldg unless u r absolutely certain it will control the fire, which means this -- stretch th big line
as always, make sure u have sustained water when stretching and use as many people as necessary. If the stretch demands 2-3 companies, get it done.
stay safe
Might I suggest you consider a few things when you are trying to determine if you should use a 2&1/2 or a 1&3/4 inch line?

1.) You don't need to have enormous structures. It is not the size of the building but the volume of fire that dictates how much water will be needed.
2.) On you 2&1/2 if you are using stacked tips do you have the 1" tip on or did someone pull them off and go right to the 1&1/4" tip. Why would anyone want to drag a 2&1/2 around to get 200 GPM when they can get that from a 1&3/4 inch line (or at least come very close?) My point is this: You want 300+ GPM which most solid bore and fog nozzles can deliver IF configured and pumped correctly AND this usally is FREE if you own the stuff already.
3.) Don't think you need to put the fire out in one step. We tend to think this way because at most house fires it's the contents buring and they go out quick if it's just a single room with no structural involvement. You can pull the 2&1/2, get into a good position by your self and charge the line then flow it without moving it. Once things are knocked down take in the smaller line and finish things up (FF#1 pulls the 2&1/2 and does the knock down while FF#2 pulls the 1&3/4 and gets it charged. Once the 2&1/2 does it's job, shut it off and FF#1 goes with FF#2 on the 1&3/4). There are otherways to achieve this same result.
4.) Pull the 2&1/2 if you have multiple rooms involved, the structure itself is buring, or (and I tell my guys this a key consideration) you area seing more fire than you think you should see or have seen before.
As a side note, a 2&1/2 with a solid bore 1&1/4 inch tip which is stationary and secured to itself (street loop/Keenan loop) or a sturdy object (pole, tree) can have its nozzle pressure increased from 50PSI to 80PSI and this will yield another 100 or so GPM.

Just my 2-cents.
I personally would like to have some 2-1/2 but we dont have them on either my paid or volunteer dept mostly because of staffing but what i also like and it doesnt give you the punch of a 2-1/2 but works fairly well is the 2 inch hose it basically has the monoverability of a 1-3/4 but with alot more knock down power we use it with a one inch smooth bore tip and it does a good job has anybody else tried the 2 in.
in NHRFR, we use the 2" in high rises but also bring in 2-1/2" in case the smaller line is ineffective
i can understand not stretching a big line inside if u don't have the personnel, but waht do u use for exposure lines or to supp;ly FDC's?
1 guy can operate a 2-1/2 as an exposure line if it is properly positioned and looped
all he has to do is sit on it
It usually would fall upon the company officer to call for that line, but most of our firefighters are pretty good at sizing up the fire on thier own and usually are already going for the "commercial" line. Our bigest problem though is that since we only ride with a driver, firefighter and officer on all but one engine company in Kearny, it's kind of hard to get that line to where we need it without the aid of a second engine. The truck can't help because we normally only have TWO members on each truck. Thus our dilema ia apparent. Sometimes we have to pull an 1 3/4 line for speed and mobility to get water on the fire, even though it really calls for that bigger line. We (some of the F/F's) would like to try the 2" lines out, but 100 years of tradition are unimpeded by progress. That 2" line with a smooth bore 1 1/8 tip at the right pressure can definately out perform an 1 3/4 line. And that extra 1/4" of hose diameter doesn't really affect line movement. I really wish some of these superior officers would investigate this avenue. Chief Tony....whats your veiw on 2" hose?
Drew,

How big is FF#1 on that 2 1/2? Is he/she looping it and then sitting on it....from the outside? I'm 195lb and in good shape.....and I wouldn't think of trying to move a charged 2 1/2 by myself. Not being judgemental...just clarify how this 1 fiefighter is operating that 2 1/2.

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