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My department recently redesigned our apparatus.  We went from small cramped trucks to nice roomy trucks.  With this change we had to evaluate how our trucks were set up.  What was good, what was bad and are they the most efficient for our calls and staffing.

The configuration of our hose beds was a big change. Sticking with our old way of doing things was going to be a challenge.  This forced us to do something we’ve really never done before.  Research, practice and more research and more practice to find something that would fit our needs and work best for us.  Not just now but for the foreseeable future. 


This time we really tried to get it right.  Simplicity, versatility and fit the needs of our department. We needed to know what one person could do and what required two people to do.  We needed to be able to teach and explain it easily.  We measured our hose beds, chose common loads and used a series of longer bights to allow firefighters to more easily pull hose without the drag.


Here is what we chose: 

Minuteman load for our pre-connects (2-200’ 1 ¾” and 1-200’ 2 ½”) With this load 100’ can be shoulders and there are 2 bights.  One to dump the bed and one @ approximately 135’ from the nozzle.  If we are fighting a large structure or have a significant setback the firefighter needs to take that bight with him.  If it’s a smaller structure or short setback that bight can be dropped out of the way (in front of truck if additional units are coming from behind.)

Our 1 ¾” loads come off by the pump so they are not shown here.  Our 2 1/2" pre-connect comes off the rear of the truck.  We chose the minute man load for this also.  We found the 2 ½” comes off easiest if the LT or Engineer can assist with deploying the dead load but we made the bights long enough that the firefighter would be able to do this by himself and not have to step back on the bumper with hose on his shoulder to reach the bights.  Our bed is also 17' deep.  This is good for the LDH and 3" but to keep both sizes of attack lines similar we shortened this load to 7' (width of our 1 3/4" cross-lay pre-connects.)


We carry 400’ of 3” hose primarily for the FDC or the ‘courtyard lay” to a gated wye.  Originally this was loaded back and forth and had no long bights.  We decided that it was better to load 200’ on each side so it could remain stacked and be dragged as such.  Our beds are 17’ long so each bight represents 35’ of hose.  We placed longer bights at 100’, 200’ and 300’ so anyone can quickly eyeball how much hose is on the bed or be able to grab an amount of hose equal to the distance of the target. 

We found our best practice with this load was the rear of the bed perpendicular to target or greater (to avoid another friction point) and one person could expect a max pull of 200’ alone.

Old load (Pictured Above) has all the bights the same length and it crosses back and forth.

New load (Pictured Below) has bights marked at 100' intervals and is loaded 200' stacked side by side. 

Our last bed to set was our 5” LDH.  We carry 1000' and our Engineers are expected to get their own water if we are within 100’ of a hydrant.  Again we found having longer bights to grab and make the 100’ come off essentially like a triple-layer load made things much easier.  By grabbing the coupling and both bights (on top of each other)  the last 100’ quickly came off the bed and the end of the hose ended up right at the back of the hose bed.  In the case of a slightly longer hand-jack to the hydrant we elected to put another long bight at the 150’ mark.  A second person could grab this and allow 2 people to quickly and efficiently make the stretch 200’ to a hydrant.

Old Load (Pictured Above) All the bights are the same length.  If you wanted to grab a bight to help pull you'd have no idea which one to grab.

New Load (Pictured Below) Bights are strategically positioned.

It’s been several months since our change and we continue to make minor tweaks.  The biggest thing that we have found is to allow the bed to talk to you.  A perfectly made bed with all bights the same length looks great but is not nearly as functional as is the one with long bights that mark certain distances and allow for an easier deployment.

Old Hose Bed From Rear (Pictured Above) Doesn't tell us much.

New Hose Bed From rear (Pictured Below) Tells us a lot and can be explained.

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Comment by Grant Schwalbe on July 3, 2014 at 2:33pm

We must strive to teach the why's rather than the mimics.  To do this you must base your why's on something concrete!  Then when we check the rig's in the AM assure it's done right.  If not pull it off and fix it....every time!

Comment by Matthew Machala on July 3, 2014 at 11:06am

These are some great ideas and I love innovative approaches to improving hose beds and lays. The one problem I have encountered with things like this is the difficulty level for every member/employee to remember and retain how each is supposed to be packed with so many little nuances (loops at different intervals, etc.) Just something to monitor as time goes on to ensure the beds continue to be packed as intended and pull properly.

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