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From Captain David Konys


Dealing with manpower issues is a problem that I deal with at the department where I work and where I volunteer.  I am always looking for ways to maximize our manpower and it starts on the training ground.   I usually have a three man engine crew and when we are first in on a working first alarm we are stretched thin, so we have to train to be proficient and everyone knows their roles. We start by talking about what each person’s roles are and make sure they understand it.  During training and drills is the time for questions, not on the fire ground.  Don’t just assume they know, make sure they do.

You can use a vacant house in your district, drill tower, or even your engine house. (This is what I use at my departments but make sure it works for your department and department SOG’S)

The Officer:

  • Make sure the driver knows that you want to see three sides of the building from the windshield if possible.
  • Do a complete 360 of the house with a TIC.
  • Decide what size hose you want pulled and to where.
  • When at the point of entry let the back stepper know which way you want to go in the house.
  • Tell the driver which way you are going in the structure.
  • Make sure you have the TIC and a tool.
  • Check for kinks in the hose before going in.

The Back Stepper:

  • Pull the correct line to where the officer tells you.
  • Make sure you have a tool.
  • Check the GPM on the nozzle, bleed off the air, check the pattern, and the nozzle reaction.
  • Check the hose for kinks.
  • Watch for changing conditions such as smoke.

The Engineer:

  • Set the wheel chocks.
  • When the crew is ready charge the line.
  • Check for kinks in the line continuously.
  • Get the ladders off the truck and set them on the house if possible and let the interior crew know where they are placed. Set them at the windows for rescue.
  • Assume command until the next in officer.
  • Have a piece of supply hose rolled out and hooked into your truck so when the second in arrives they can give you their tank water quickly.
  • Direct the second in companies on what you want and what you need.
  • Watch for changing conditions and let the interior crew know what you see. Getting better or worse?
  • Have your bunker pants on and your coat, helmet, and SCBA close by. You may have to feed hose in the front door or help with door control when second due arrives.


Practicing this drill and making sure everyone knows their role will make it go smoothly when you have to put it to use.  Manpower is an issue that we have to deal with and practicing on situations like this is a great way to maximize it to the best of our abilities.  These roles may vary depending on the situation so talk about it and what changes may come up.  Always train like it’s the real thing and train hard.

(Try mixing it up by rotating through all the positions when doing this drill so that everyone knows what the roles consist of and how they vary.)


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