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The duties of the second to arrive engine vary greatly depending upon what you respond to, staffing, type of water supply, and hosebed design.

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First and foremost, a secure water supply, in commercial, that may also be system support followed by interior line stretch to assist the first due engine. PD's would be a dedicated hydrant supply, then a backup line. Our engines are staffed with 4, all engines carry 1000 ft of 5" supply. First engine at a confirmed fire also catches a water supply(SOG states they are responsible for securing, but may be calling for the 2nd in engine to lay on a "nothing showing" incident) With that said, how does everyone else secure water? First in, second in, booster tank or hydrant...We just implimented a redundant water supply SOG, so EVERY engine is responsible for their own water. What I mean by this is each engine with a line pulled MUST retain its own...so three hydrants are hooked on a working fire. We are now seeing the problems with this...too much spagetti, clogging in front of the fire building with apparatus, truck cannot function properly if needed. I'm trying to advocate a reverse lay for 2nd and 3rd engines, but we haven't used them routinely in the past, so we need to train on it before we institute it. Maybe another good topic for discussion, Ray.
Secure water supply. Initial attack is on tank water, second due secures water then becomes RIT.
Commercial fire this cn vary, it will still secure water but may augment the sprinkler/standpipe and pump. Highrise it will do the standpipe and carry tools equipment to location needed. RIT duties are assigned to others.
On confirmed working house fire come into the scene, back up first due Engine ( First due brings own water supply on working fire). On nothing showing, second engine stages at the plug.
On buildings second due could do as above or make the connection on the system, depends on what building, all of this is communicated in route.
Oops...I didn't follow directions and put my reply on the "forums" section a few hours ago. Thank God for copy and paste...here it is again in the right place.

The second due Engine really only has one task to accomplish initially...support the operations of the FIRST DUE Engine. The first thing the second due Engine Officer should do upon arrival is communicate with the first due Officer to determine what positions, tasks, or problems they need help with. The Driver/Engineer/Chauffeur/Pump Operator, etc., should give them some water if they are not on their own hydrant (damn preconnects...). Initiating the stretch of the second or "back-up" line simultaneously with the stretching of the first line is unprofessional and inefficient. If the first line is not stretched, flaked, charged and placed into operation (in that order), what are you backing up??? Let the third due Engine stretch the second line. If the first due Engine has a relatively short stretch (four or five lengths), and they are doing fine without help, then it is okay to start a second line. I understand many departments only have three or four pieces of apparatus coming, however, it is the effect the numbers initially arriving have on the first line's progress that makes the difference, not how many eventually get there; and not how many lines can eventually get stretched... Also, If going to the floor above with a second line, just be sure to estimate one length more than the first line so you can make the floor above and get a piece of any extension without stretching short...
Reverse lay alleviates the access problems you mentioned Tony. Any Engine arriving second and third due should always BACK down into the block; Never nose into/towards the fire building. Every Engine should ensure that their hosebed is facing the fire building so they can supply (drop to) the first due Engine if they stretched off the side, or the Truck(s) if going to a water tower operation. This ensures no Engine gets trapped in the block and that you do not have to stretch supply hose around an Engine to another. It may be unnerving passing the block (going around the block) to enter from the other side, however...the first few minutes are worth the next few hours...getting the first alarm companies in the right spots, where they belong, the first time prevents greater alarm companies from having to finish the job for you...
I agree with housewatch. 2nd due's responsibility is to assist 1st due. Unless it's a short stretch. You can't back up a line if its not in place ready to operate. What if the 2nd line has problems getting into operation? Then you have 2 lines that are not useless.
Upon arriving at a working fire, the duties of the second engine depend heavily on what the first arriving engine has, or hasn't accomplished. Most important is establishing a water supply. If the first engine didn't pick up a hydrant, the second engine will do so. We use 4" LDH with storz connections, so we can easily lay forward or reverse, depending on the situation. Even if the first engine did pick up the hydrant, the IC may order a second supply established based on the size or potential size of the fire, or as a back up in case the first hydrant or engine malfunctions for any reason.
As for the crew of the second arriving engine, they will most often stretch a back up line. If the first engine had good manpower, they will have been able to man two attack lines. Under ideal circumstances, the first line would make entry (usually with an 1 3/4"), while the second line would remain at the door of a one story structure or enter to protect the stairwell of a two or more story structure. When this is the case, the crew of the second engine will stretch a 2 1/2" back up line to the door, which will allow the second line of the first engine to either advance and back up the first line, if needed, or advance on the floor above. It's worth pointing out that we would want the 2 1/2" stretched from a different pumper, if possible, as a precaution in case the first went down, and also to make the engineer's job easier.
Under those (mostly) less than ideal situations where the first engine didn't have full manpower, the second engine would usually stretch the second line (usually 1 3/4") just as a second hose team from the first engine would have.
Other uses for the second and later arriving engines would be to position for possible defensive, master stream operations and to relieve the crews of the earlier arriving engines.

Keep it safe,
Jay
The reverse hose lay by the second engine is also useful for getting the engines out of the way for the truck company that must be within reach of the fire building to be effective. The second engine might need to wait for the 1st truck to enter the street if they're arrival is about the same time. This way the first truck can reach the building for rescue and vertical venting of the roof from the placement at the front of the fire structure. In Chicago FD the second engine would then back down to the 1st truck, drop hose from the rear step, then drive to the corner to connect to a hydrant that is now in front of them at the end of the block. This is espicially important if the need for elevated streams was expected.
Jim Mason
Chicago FD
Where I work the second engine will wait until both trucks are in the block.
What else will your second engine do? Do they stretch the next line, assist the first engine?
Our company commander has given us a "tactical template" to follow that is occupancy based. In most all calls Our second engine will pick up the first engines line and then send their crew up and assume RIT. Once the arrival of the 3rd engine the 2nd engine will then stretch a back up line into the occupancy. We have the 2nd engine assume RIT becuase our "Safe Fireground" SOG states that with no immediate life hazard we can not enter the building until an RIT is established. So in order to go in we have to get an RIT established ASAP.

Our responses: Single Family Dwelling fire 2 engines, 2 special service, 1 battalion
Multi Family Dwelling 3 engines, 2 special service, 1 battalion
Commercial 3 engines, 2 special service, 1 battalion


Once you arrive and announce a working fire you get and additional.. 1 engine, 1 ambulance, 1 battalion, 1 EMS supervisor, 1 air utility
Once you give the working fire update you go to requesting alarms 2nd 3rd etc. On these you get 2 engines and 1 special service until we run out of special services then you get 3 engines.

Minimum staffing of suppression units is 3 ( Driver, Officer, and Firefighter) Ambualnce 2 (1 ALS, 1 BLS)
Battlion and EMS Supervisor is 1.
On a residential fire building we;ll only "usually " be able to get one truck in front. This is because the streets are so small. The second truck weill go to the nearest side street intersection to throw ground (portables) ladders to the building. This is most likely in the rear for the guys on the roof from the first truck but it will also be in front and on the sides for rescue, additional venting or search, depending on the situation.
The second engine's primary duty is to see that the first engine has a positive source then stretch a line to back up or go above the fire to the next floor to cut off extension or protect the search above the fire. In the anticipation that the fire cannot be overcome with 2 streams from the first 2 engines the 2nd engine will drop enough hose to protect the exposures and to supply the in-comming tower ladders and snorkles.
We do alot with rig positioning depending on the condtions ,ie...street conditons of dead end streets, anticipated frozen hydrants - possible forward lay to ensure a source, Fast spreading fire - dropping 2 lines per each of the first 2 engines , corner building fire location 2 engines take the corners drop hose and leave both trucks at the fire building. etc....We also positon the rig out of the collapse zone if there is any expected collapse because it is very difficult to move the engines once it has been realized that the buidling may collpase soon. Getting caught like that is really a No-No!! We position with extension of the fire in mind from the start
Jim Mason
Chicago FD
Occupcancy is huge when it comes to the inital size up of the situation. We have single families that look llike 2 unit apratment buildings and it gets more complicated from there. There are also many changes of occupancy that we have to deal with. Because of all this, which comes from an old town that has been through many different economic times, there are many occupancies. The determination of occupancy and if the buidling is occupied by civilians is not easliy determined upon arrival by the first due units. The first look at the fire is complicated by the distracting situation that we view it in. Everyone on the scene wants to get something done right now, the fire and smoke can be distracting and the FF's want to have quick orders from the officer or they might actually do somethiung on their own which leads to freelacing and a lack of team continutiy.
there are really 3 common types of "occupied " reports that we can get after we acknowledge the dispatch center for the response address. A report of persons trapped from the dispatch center enroute to the fire call, the person on the front lawn saying there is someone trapped or still inside and the firefighter witnessed victim hanging from a window. In my mind all three lead to different actions that should be taken by us once we arrive on the scene.
Jim Mason Chicago FD

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