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In Multiple dwelling fires you often have to stretch above the fire apartment. How do you do that? What are some of the safeguards you can put in place when you have to battle extension above. How do you determine when to charge your line? There are four apartments per floor a 10x10 landing and only one stairway available.

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This is a tough where you can overlook at lot of things. Getting back to the way our department runs Our first engine would make an attach on the fire floor, the second engine in will secure the water supply and our third engine in will secure a backup line on the second floor. Once the second engine secures the water supply the usually proceed to the fire floor or the floor above to put a third line into operation. Since we have only one stairwell in this structure this task can be extremely difficult since you will already have 2 engine companies, and other crews already operating in this stairwell. With that much congestion in such a small area it may be more beneficial to try and get the line to the floor above by other means preferably hoisting a line up the outside of the building through a window or balconey (prefeably from the original stairwell windows if available). This would not add to the congestion in the stairwell and provide a seperate water supply to the floor above. If you cannot hoist to a stairwell window you must make sure your hoseline leads to the stairwell or another safe means of egress. You dont want to advance from a window remote from the stairwell incase things get bad and you have to bail, and you find yourself at a window having to use your bailout rope, trying to get help, or last resort sliding the hoseline.

The tough part about this is you will be working above the fire to get the line into operation which with one stairwell will be pretty much be lights out or a good deal of smoke since crews opened the door to the fire floor and the hatch door at the roof. As soon as I can get this line into operation I would proceed with it charged based on the condtions of the floor. (IE: Smoke conditons, Level of heat, Etc..). Too much of a chance to get into a a jam without a charged line. But if its clear and relatively easy to move around, I may consider strectching dry but making sure I leave a ff at the wye or making sure I can get water as soon as I needed it but I would only do this with due caution.

This is something we have not really practiced a whole lot or had tons of experience with so I would like some guidance on my decisions. Good, bad, anything. Thanks

Joe Dombrowski
Engine 5 Rescue 1
Stamford Fire Rescue
Stamford, CT
Without taking in what floor the fire is on and how many floors the structure has, I think we would all agree we need to get a line on the fire, and a back-up line behind it of equal size or larger. This back-up line will both protect the initial line and the stairwell for access and egress or crews above the fire, if the progress is doubtful on the original apartment, I would not let that back-up leave it's position. And as Joe has stated, in a small stairwell and landing, too many hose lines clog everything up and are unsafe. The question is how to get it up to the floor above. One way is to use a 2 1/2" to the landing below the fire initially for the back-up line with a water thief (gated wye) and then you can run the third line up to the floor above and operate that way. That lessens the clutter of a third 1 3/4" coming up from the street, and provides decent flow. Having to pull a line up past the third floor on the outside is a manpower intense operation, and besides, if you working from the landing of the floor above the fire to try and pull up the line the heat and smoke would make it tough if not impossible. So you are still going to be at least 2 floors below the floor above the fire if you choose to pull up on the outside, starting from the place you would have if you pulled up that larger line and split it off.

Looking at the when do you charge the line, I've seen different thoughts on that over the last few decades. Waiting till you get close to the fire (like outside the fire room) to charge the line might seem like the fastest way to get to the fire, but if your crew is not well seasoned, this could have a bad outcome. Charging at street level and then humping hose up a few floors is also not the best way, maybe the safest, and for sure not the fastest. I think the happy medium is to get as high up in the building as possible (floor below) then charge the line, check your flow and pattern, then mask up and move in.

Being a truck guy, this is my thoughts on this. The Truck is as the Truck does.
We had a fire very simular to this. Fire was in a fourth floor apartment and had not vented through the roof yet. The attack crew choose to hoist a 2 1/2" line from the ground to fourth floor stair way landing. Enough hose was brought to that position and then charged. Once the door was opened the 2 1/2" SS made quick work of the fire. The back up line was being streached up the stairs. The fire was out before the secind line reached the fire floor. I credit this incident to the quick decision by command to hoist the hose to the fire floor and the use of 2 1/2" SS.

Hey Ray,
Another way to look at this is an exterior stretch to the least affected apartment on the floor above. If the heavy fire and chance for extension is in the A/B corner, we may perform an exterior stretch to the apt. on the C/D corner, get the line and crew ready from the safety of the remote apt. and proceed from there. I'm a big fan of the 2 1/2" line w/ a smooth bore nozzle for the obvious reasons like reach, penetration, and volume. Also, when it comes time for mop up or hot-spotting, we can add a lenght of 1 3/4" line and work smarter not harder. If an engine company practices enough of these types of stretches, it can be a smooth and successful operation.

A lot depends on the size of the building too. There is a marked difference between a wood frame or ordinary apartment building vs. a fire resistive, compartmentized one. Once two lines are in the stairway, an alternaive has to be used. As everyone has said, the confusion, congestion, and inability to get crews in place can be a killer.

Thanks for the great question.
Your name sound's familiar...did I meet you out in Indy?
Maybe in a pub or two!
Your're pretty should do some classes in Indy

Aaron Heller said:
Maybe in a pub or two!
I think we are all in aggreement that we need to make sure the first line is in service before we even consider the backup, but one point that has to be talked about is the communication between the first and second due companies a far as when it is OK to take the backup or second hoseline to a floor above. For many reasons that do not have to be repeated to his group, the reason for this line is to ensure the eggress of the first hoseline. If there were mulitple apartments on fire, the first hoseline is going to knock them down, then move when the officer is sure that it is safe to do so. This means the second hoseline will need to come and finish up the job. If this is the case, a 3rd hoseline needs to be stretched to ensure the eggress then maybe to stretch to the floor above. This hoseline should be brought in via a different route if possible, (rope stretch, etc.). The main tactical tenent must still apply, and that is to secure the eggress. Do your rigs have a static hosebed with at least 2 lengths more than the preconnects? This will effect ability of members making the stretch.
Be safe


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