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I'm looking for some advice here brothers/sisters. I am a newly promoted lieutenant on a quint in central texas. We staff all four of our companies with a minimum of four personnel. Our SOGs say that the decision to operate as an engine or truck company is up to the officer on the first in quint. We train/operate very similar to the truck operations in the northeast. Officer and FF take the TIC, water can and irons and go interior to locate the fire, attempt to knock down/darken the fire then search away from the fire. The engineer and OVM/Roof guy kills utilities, set up the aerial ladder, throw ground ladders and prepare for vertical ventilation. There are a few situations where we automatically pull a line: vehicle/dumpster/defensive fires. We are also supposed to pull a line for an exterior fire such as a shed attached to a house. We recently had a fire in a two story residence with fire venting from the window of a bedroom on the second floor. This was at 9pm, three vehicles in the driveway and front door was locked. This night I had five assigned to our quint so three of us went interior and located the fire then attempted a search. The fire was too intense for the water can to do anything so we backed up to the top of the staircase and were met by the first in engine with a line. My question is what would you have done in my shoes? Would you have pulled a line or performed as a truck?

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I think you did what your "gut" told you to do. 2100 hours 2 wood ( i am assuming) single fam, working fire on 2, cars in the driveway and no one outside. Without being there who knows . It sounds like you had a engine right behind you. You said you made the fire floor then was pushed back meeting the engine at the top of the stairs. You did the most important thing in my book ( with the staffing you had) split "inside" / "outside" and got the OV getting the place vented? Most times we will save more lives with quick, proper, cordinated ventilation than with a hose line. That one will get the Engine guys going.

Most imporatant was you had the path of natural egress covered ( searched). Front door in.......stairs.......2nd floor hall.....If the fire pushed you back than most likley no one would have been salvagable beyond that point. I think you were doing what needed done.

This brings in the big question how do guys ( group) feel about the quint concept?
We feel very good about it, we feel it applies well to our department. It was "suggested" by upper management that maybe I should have pulled a line while conducting the search but I feel that it would have slowed us down and committed my engineer to the pump panel therefore slowing down the ventilation efforts since he is 50% of the roof team.
For what it is worth, Ruben, you did what I would have done. It sounds like there was a line close behind you guys, and I agree taking a line might have slowed your crew down and it would have tied up your driver at the panel. If "upper management" believes 1 "extra" firefighter makes it possible to do the work of eight firefighters (2 four person companies) they need to check their math. That third member of the interior team allows you to do your job; being the officer! That way your crew can do an oriented search and you can supervise instead of being "hands on" during the search. NFPA 1710 addresses quints operating as both engines and ladders and I believe they say it should be manned with a minimum of 6 personel. We have two quints in our department that came as a cost cutting measure in the 1980's. They used to be staffed with four and now, most of the time, are staffed with three. They never had official SOGs for structure fires for a long time. It used to depend on the officer. Some guys had you operate as a ladder some as an engine. Now they are clearly assigned as ladders on structural boxes and are only used as engines to fill in when other engines are tied up. Quints, in my opinion, are a lose/lose situation without discipline. When you pull up to a fire and you are first due, it's really easy to think "grab a line". However, if you do that ventilation, search and laddering will suffer. If you do ladder company work, somebody will always say, "You shoulda grabbed a line, kid." This is to say nothing about the apparatus themselves which, again in my humble opinion, are a pain to operate. Too little compartment space that is poorly located, hose beds too hard to get at and use and trucks that are too big. Anyhow, congrats on your promotion and good luck.
I'll try to keep this short. I, also, work on a quint; just not as an officer. I would've split the crew into teams of two and left the driver to operate the pump. Two guys to drag in a line and two to do truck work. Since the fire had vented itself, taking out windows wouldn't have been as high on the list of tactics. The first two would knock down the fire while the other two did a search and vented windows as they saw necessary as they went along. Being a 2-story house, ground ladders would work well instead of trying to prioritize your one spot to place the aerial. That engines line coming in behind you could be used to back up your first. Or you could have them take over your original line since it was already stretched and saved them valuable time. But, at least you got the initial knock-down started. And as far as the line slowing you down, as long as you train on stretching and advancing hoselines then you should have it down to a science. I love truck work just as much as the next guy, but I've also been taught time and again that the sooner you knock down the fire, the sooner the problem goes away.

I've only been doing this 10 years and I still have a lot to learn. I wasn't there that night and I'm not trying to second-guess your actions, but that's just my opinion.

Thanks for sharing that situation, it really got my brain turning.
This is interesting especially since my station we just acquired a quint but, we operate as an engine company. My feelings with quints they make excellent trucks with a pump or engines with a ladder, but they cannot be operated as both. We have setup our quint to run as an engine and perform engine duties as per the chief. I dont think it really matters if you setup as a truck or an engine but you do have to make that decision as an officer how your going to operate at a given call. In the scenerio you posted it might have been more effective to perform as an engine in that case. You could have squeaked by with 2 guys doing a quick search and 2 guys pulling the line but I feel that is too demanding on your crew. Quints are a good concept if thought is put into how they will run. everyone thinks of great we have an engine/truck, the best of both worlds but that is not the case.. Our driver put it best for quints. He said, they are excellent trucks or engines or a bad engine/truck. Bottom line my opinion it has to be operated as one or the other for a given incident. But I too am searching for more input on this as we are also running a quint as of Nov. 1 and we are new to this too.

Joe Dombrowski
Engine 5 rescue 1
Stamford fire rescue
Stamford, CT

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