Yes we use pistol grips and I feel they do have an advantage in certain situations. Ian Bruzenak said "Even worse when advancing you will see people pulling the nozzle by the handle and the nozzle will be behind them, sometimes they will be going backwards pulling it, that's just stupid." Very true about going backwards being very dangerous this practice should not be done. Now if the lead man grabs the handle with one hand, faces forward with nozzle at or around his waist you can keep the other free arm out in front. This will allow you to feel out in front during low visibility but also allow you to advance the hose line at a very quick pace. Some might say you must keep the nozzle ahead at all times but in our community where I serve we have homes in the 15,000 sq. ft range you could be advancing 200 feet of hose before you even start getting anywhere close to the fire compartment. Once you get in close you must let go of the handle and hold the nozzle well out in front of you which it seems we all are in the same boat on this one.
The car fire can be an excellent place to use the pistol grip allowing you to put the hose over one shoulder holding the nozzle out ahead of you while holding the grip. You are able to get a nice downward angle to penetrate into the often low ride height of the vehicle and into the seats. I find this makes it a little easier to get the proper angle down and relatively little fatigue for the duration of the car fire. Obviously you can not hold the nozzle in this position during the entire event, you must switch around to get proper stream placement on the involved parts of the vehicle. This technique can make things a little easier for you during a portion of the fire.
The dreaded grip not allowing you to pull the hose off the transverse bed from the opposite side because it is getting jammed somewhere?. This may be a truck design flaw or it was not specified to the manufacturer that you will be using this style of nozzle. We have a truck that was outfitted with transverse bed cover at a later time and now it is impossible to pull the pistol grip nozzle from the opposite side, if you truck is like this unfortunately your jammed nothing can be done unless the cover or rails are adjusted. For us at our department most trucks have two transverse beds we will have one nozzle to either side. To aide the nozzle in sliding out we keep them upside down facing backwards as you pull them out of their respective sides.
I think the whole notion of guys being lazy and holding the pistol grip in a fire is a training issue. The modern day firefighter is more educated than ever, if their senior officers educate their firefighters on why you hold the nozzle out in front of you it will be done, just like you don't walk in a zero visibility environment. If your guys are continuing to hold the nozzle incorrectly than you have a much deeper issue than laziness. I'm interested to hear the comments on this one ha!