Why the Quint works for us.
By Lou Comenale and Justin Ientilluci
In many firehouses across the country you mention the word “Quint” and you might have well just insulted that firefighters favorite football team. Even in our own department some guys still wish we would run just a Ladder Truck. Slowly the culture is changing and the reality is setting in that running a Quint actually works in our department.
Just a little background on our department, which is the Gates Fire District, located in Western New York. We have a paid District and Assistant Chief, a Volunteer Deputy Chief, twenty eight paid firefighters/officers (four groups of, one captain, one lieutenant and five firefighters per shift), and roughly fifty volunteers ( which about half are interior and the other half is scene support). The on duty staff mans the Quint, with a lieutenant and two firefighters, the Engine, with three firefighters, and the Command SUV, with the Captain (this is full staffed.) The volunteers respond to the firehouse, depending on the call, and man their apparatus; without getting into responding SOG’s the volunteers will either respond with an Engine, 100 foot platform Quint, or a Rescue, out of their respective house (we have 3 fire houses). Our Department runs about 3,000 calls a year for service. The district is divided in half, the east side is the Engine’s first due, and the west side is the Quint’s first due.
Our staffed Quint carries an assortment of equipment (Quint: Hose, Water, Aerial, Ladders, Pump). The Aerial is a seventy five foot straight stick with a pre-piped waterway. It has a booster tank of 500 gallons of water. It has three cross lays, two 1 3/4 inch and one 2 1/2 inch. Off the back it has our standard amount of 4 inch supply hose along with 150 feet of 3 inch hose dead laid to a blitz-fire nozzle. There is also 150 feet of 1 3/4 inch line in the front bumper for a trash line. It also carries a compliment of rope , water and ice rescue equipment; two rotary saws (one carbide tip and one diamond blade), chain saw (bullet tips), and a sawzall. The compliment of ground ladders consist of a 35 foot and a 24 foot extension ladders along with two 16 foot roof ladders, there is also a 16 foot combination wall/A-frame ladder. It also has the hand-tools that NFPA recommends to carry.
So how exactly does the Quint work for us? First, it starts with our training. We just don’t train as Engines doing “engine work” and Truck Companies doing “truck work”. We train in all areas of firefighting. We drill as one company not as the Engine Company and or Truck Company. We also train this way due to staffing procedures, personnel can work at either house covering for overtime or working a shift swap. Hose line stretches, ventilation, forced entry, ground ladders and technical rescue are drilled by the entire group. It doesn’t matter what apparatus we respond with, the work that the crew will be doing is dictated on the order in which they arrive and what task needs to be done. If the Quint is first due the crew is able to pull hose, make water force entry and try to make a stop. With a proactive driver/chauffeur, a ground ladder can be thrown and the aerial can be in a ready position, it helps that our pumps have a preset feature that allows a push of the button to get the pump to a predetermined pressure. The second incoming apparatus which is most likely going to be an Engine can either make primary water, or secondary water. Conversely if the Quint is not first due, if the Engine is properly positioned, the Quint can be positioned for the aerial, and the crew can go to work as needed by the Incident Commander. If the situation doesn’t call for an aerial, the quint can either position close to the structure for use of additional equipment or in extreme circumstances it can lay a supply line for primary water. We try not to lay a supply line with the Quint because then we are only using the Quint for one purpose and that is hose, but the supply line is a safety net if there is a delay in the next incoming Engine to make water. We have laid supply line with the Quint from an Engine to a hydrant.
What is the number one goal of the firefighter at a scene? The answer is in the question....to fight the fire. What is our primary weapon? This is an easy one, even though the saltiest most senior truck company would like to say that their ventilation tactics are, in reality we all know that water is what puts the fire out. When the fire goes out all other problems go away. The Quint allows us no matter what apparatus is first on scene, besides the Rescue in a extraordinary circumstance, to get a line stretched and water on the fire in a timely fashion.
Just like we hear on day one as a rookie in probationary school, we train like we fight. In our district we don’t train to specific riding positions because from call to call the job changes. Some people think it is crazy, we think it makes us a better well rounded firefighter. The unknown from job to job makes us train more and makes us sharper.
So why does the Quint work for us, because we need it to.