Nothing does more to improve safety on the fireground than correctly stretching, positioning and using the first attack line (sorry Truckies). The question is, do we take our most effective life and property saving skill for granted? Do you know the WHAT, WHERE & WHY before and/or during the initial attack line stretch?
This post asks these questions and offers some discussion to the most fundamental fireground tactic.
1. Does the first line always have to go through the front door? Why or why not?
Always, no… preferably, yes! The most basic reason to (almost) always take the first line through the front door is our number one priority, life safety. We are taught in rookie school to “think like a civilian” when searching and that civilians will try to exit through primary means of entry. If that’s true, and we truly are there to protect lives, then the first line should be positioned through the front door by default; if not to search for victims than to protect their means of egress.
2. Does the first line always have to go to the fire? Why or why not?
Often times we, especially new firefighters, forget that there is more to fighting a fire than putting out the flames. There are considerations for ventilation (hopefully coordinated), victim search and additional lines. Sometimes the first line may better serve as a protection line for a search crew, they may have to hold the stairs in a basement fire (or protect the interior of a home for an attached garage fire) or may need to allow some of the conditions to be controlled prior to making an advance (i.e. flashover or backdraft conditions or unique hazards).
3. What information is needed when sizing up the stretch for the initial attack line?
Since preconnected attack lines are the norm these days, sometimes the mentality (truthfully) is “IN CASE OF FIRE, PULL HERE” with little or no thought to the adequacy of the size, length and/or nozzle of the preconnect. We risk becoming desensitized to adequately sizing up not only the first line but all attack lines.
Poorly sizing up the first line could result in not enough line to reach and/or extinguish the fire, too much line that is cumbersome to move and constantly kinks or maybe stretching the wrong size line. All of these scenarios will require the second engine, usually assigned to the second/backup line, to assist the first engine with making their line effective. All three scenarios expose all crews involved to unnecessary risk.
Let us know what your thoughts and experiences are. Thanks and be SAFE!
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