Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

Does it take two, three, four? How many firefighters are needed on that first line to make an interior advance at a private house fire. What is the minimum number you would safely commit to?

Views: 602

Replies to This Discussion

If the private dwelling is somewhat "typical" in size and an 1 3/4" line is used, usually two persons can maneuver the line efficiently. But like Brent ,I feel like I need to qualify my statement. When I say "typical" I mean that there won't be more then a few turns within the structure to get to the fire. Some of the houses in my first in district are quite large coupled with multiple levels. The more sharp turns encountered, the more firefighters required to get the line in place quickly enough. If the line is a 2" and more then 2 corners can be expected during the advance, I would say a minimum of 3 firefighters would be preferred.
The book will tell you the Nozzle FF, Backup FF and Door FF, with the Door FF being one of the most important members on the hoseline. We run 3 men engines, with one as the ECC. My own SOP is if the fire is less than 2 stories, (raised ranch, cape, or straight ranch) then we could do it, knowing help is on the way. If the fire is on the second floor or higher, then I am going to wait. There is plenty for my company to do to get the hoseline ready and deployed properly, and by that time the second due engine should be there. Now we run first responder, so my plan could be a wash at any givin time. I will prepare for that.
The one thing we need to do as a fire service, and you have heard this before, is to stop being moths to the flame, and take a step back before we commit. One thing I do is scout for the fire before we lay the travel length out, this way we do not have to stretch twice. I work out of a 2 piece engine house, so I have the advantage of 2 more members on the other engine (with the ECCof that engine assisting the first for water supply). But they might be on other runs, so we train by ourselves as well as with the sister company.
If it is a commercial job, we have a 2 1/2" ONLY SOP, and I wait for the second due company before we go inside with that.
Be safe
Two. Nozzleman and Officer. If a third experienced firefighter is available I like him to start at the door keeping the line moving and watching our backs. I think experience of the officer and crew plays as much into how many firefighters it takes as anything else. Experience helps you on size up, speed the line needs to be put in place, length of stretch and estimated corners to be encountered amongst other things. If all you have on a dept. is guys that are used to knocking it down from the outside all the time and then rushing in; it's probably going to take a few more of them to make the advance when they can't get a knock from the outside. But that's just my opinion from the inside looking out. Great topic!
I just finished an exercise with our guys on the 2 1/2 line..I asked how many to use this line and the typical answer was 3-4. Well 3-4 guys in my department would mean less guys to do the other work. I showed them that 2 can get the job done as I was taught by the boys of Brotherhood Inc with a 3rd as the door man.

In a residential fire utilizing the 1 3/4 Combination fog nozzle (Which I hate) 3 is max. 2 is great. 2 can work better together and quicker. The other firefighters should be used for ventilation, RIT, S&R operations. We are a combination department so volunteers during the day are less then at night. The first in crew is the career crew of 3 Driver/Capt/FF.

99.9% off the time its 2 and works great. I can't see why we would need more on the line. Train the way you fight and Im sure you will see that 2 will get it done. As long as they work together. A third can be a door man but in most case he or she doesnt need to enter the structure and if they do then so be it.

Keep your sticks on the Ice and be safe..So everybody goes home.
2 works but 3 is better, especially on big victorians or long apartment stretches. Double this for 2 1/2". The biggest thing I have seen is the second line seems to think thier job is to bulldozer the initial line and beat them to the fire. Instead of helping lighten the line and successfully get the FIRST line stretched!!! I can tell you how many times i Have entered a building and heard "lighten the line!" and 4 or 5 members stepping over it. No body likes to be the door guy... they all want the nob! Some body tell me how to make the door/corner member a more glorious job so we can get someone to do it!

Be Safe
Brent's reply covers just about the entire question. You have to SIZE-UP before attack. The results of that size-up will tell you what size line you will need and consequently how many people will be needed to handle it surely AND safely. There's a great photo somewhere of a training exercise at Texas A&M, with five or six 11/2 inch lines manned by at least eight persons on each. The real world situations however demand that 11/2 or 13/4 inch lines be manned by two, three if you have staffing, while a 2 inch line can be handled by two, if they are in optimum physical shape, while three is optimum. On 21/2 lines, three are a minimum while four is a lot better.

Now, will the advance be horizontal with few or no turns, or will the team have to advance up stairs or even inclined ramps? How long will that advance be, 20 to 40 feet, 50 to 80 feet, etc? What is burning? Size-up my friends, get as much info as possible before assigning resources. You may find that you will need several simultaneous lines manned by a big bunch of people. By the way, that door person may not get to play in the extinguishing part of the game, but if he (she) is not on the ball, the nozzle team won't play too much either.
Shouldnt the second line be a backup line? Its their job to protect the initial handline not beat them to knockdown. And if you do have 2 attacklines in one structure for attack i hope they are hitting 2 different sources. If not get the 2 1/2 in place of 2 small lines. And if that is still not enough for one spot get out and go defencsive.
And how to make the door man realize his/ her job is important put them on the nozzle during training giving them many corners and see how fast they wish someone was there to help feed the line..

Just my thoughts..
Its more like how many firefighters does the chief let us have to man that first line. Since we ride with an officer, a driver, and one firefighter on the first due engine, the answer for us would be 2, initially. Then the first due truck shows up with an officer (sometimes an acting officer) and one firefighter. Do they do truck stuff or help advance the line? Manpower is the big issue here. In a perfect world, whats the answer? Lets start at the nob, at least 1 FF and an officer if it's an 1 3/4" line. Then at least 1 FF at the front door to move hose in, and another if it is going up, or down a flight of stairs. Now if you add in the extra bulk of the 2 1/2", add in at least 2 more along that line, especially if it is making headway and advancing, if you want it to keep moving on the fire. But since none of us live in the Perfect World Fire Dept, the real answer is dependant on your manning, location and extent of fire, and the lenght of the stretch. If you have the advantage of a 2" line on your rig, you can get a little bit of both worlds, almost big water and manuverability. In our department, we don't yet ( my vollunteer dept. has it, but never seem to use it), so the IC just keeps calling for more help until we have enough people to get the main attack line working, along with a back-up line, and a luxury, a line above the fire or on exposures.
I would say no less than 3. As every one else has already stated there are a lot of contributing factors. I think the most important is how many lengths of hose are going to be needed to reach the the seat of the fire. The average stretch in my Dept. is 150'. But some departments have private dwellings that sit back 200' from the street. It may take the commitment of the first 2 engines to get the primary line in service. The size of the line is going to impact this operation dramatically. A 2-1/2" line regardless of the length is going to require more man power. I am not a big fan of the preconected line, to many limitations. 150' of static 1-3/4" line next to a bed of leader line( 3" with a thief connected) Gives you a lot of options and versatility. Remember the most critical position on the line .The unsung hero of every fire the Back up man.
I would love to say "It depends", but unfortunately it doesn't for us.

Our First alarm assignement only gets us 10 personnel. Three 3 person engines and a BC. As I have stated (numerous times) before, we do not operate with a truck so with 2-in, 2-out and the need for a search team/vent team, we only really have two firefighters to attack the fire. The First due officer and his/her nozzle firefighter. All other personnel are commited. We will strike the second alarm on most good working fires and we can always augment the attack line when necessary but that will slow down the primary search. 99 percent of the time, we will only have two on an interior attack...
May I ask why you don't like preconnected lines? They seem to take a step out of the stretch. When dealing with a private residential structure I can't see any advantage to pulling anything other than a 1 3/4 or 2 1/2 inch preconnect. If you can explain the disadvantage I am open to new stuff.
Pre-connects work great as long as you know your district well. If all of your structures are right off the street, and no more than 2 floors tall, you can get away with nothing but pre-connects. Maybe. But add in some 100' plus setbacks, and buildings that are 5-6 floors tall and maybe 100' deep per floor, with weird floor plans, then that 200' or even 250' pre-connect 1 3/4 " line isn't going to cut it. Not that you would want to take in that small a line in that size structure. It's all about knowing your response area, and what will work in it. You only need to stretch short once.........


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