In our department we respond with 13 people on a residential structure fire. 2 engines w/ 3 people each, 1 rescue with 3 people, 1 truck with 2 people, 1 safety officer, and 1 battalion chief. Usually the rescue takes primary search, the truck ventilation, the first engine attack , the second engine water supply and backup team, safety officer is safety officer and the battalion chief is IC. As all of us are aware of manpower is the issue. We have two people on our lines (in most residential dwellings we use 1 3/4 lines) with the back up team assisting at the door and the corners. I have handled many attack lines alone so I feel confident that while 3 may be optimum that 2 is sufficient in most cases. The correct answer is as many as it takes.
My views on pre-connected lines are based on my experiences within my Dept. But I apreciate your question I also like to learn new stuff ,and here other peoples experiences. I think one of the things lacking in the fire dept. is an open honest debate on these basic issues. In my Dept. we have always used 200' 1-3/4" preconnected lines. Most of the fires we respond to can easily be handeled with 100-150' of line. We primarly use constant flow nozzles. Our minimum fire flow is 150gpm. If we rarley use 200' of hose then why are we creating more work and increased friction loss as well as increased reaction pressure on the nozzle. It would be easy enough to just remove a section of hose when we stretch the line, but most firefighters are going to pull and use all the hose in a preconncted line wether it's needed or not. Most of this can be addressed through training, but in my opinion we should only stretch what we need. Less hose to chase the kinks out of , less friction loss and quicker more efficient stretches.
Fair enough, I guess I'm fortunate to work in an area where the majority of our residences are 1 or 2 story and about 50ft from the curb. We really don't have an issue with them but I can see where it depends on what your responding to.
I personally would not feel comfortable with less than 3 FFand would prefer 4. In todays fire service however it seems that could be a stretch.
The vols have less people willing to do the job sans pay because of various reasons, and the career departments and being hampered by budgets etc...
We are fortunate of late that we can man an engine with chauffer, officer and 3 interior qualified people. We also fill the box with a mutual aid department that will augment that number.
This too would depend if its a room and contents or if the fire progressed into something larger.
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