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Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Adapting Innovative Techniques to the Needs of your Department

Take a look around the fire service and you will find that many of our operational guidelines, practices, and equipment all have roots in other areas outside of firefighting. Things like our command Structure, breathing apparatus, and vent saws were all around prior to being repurposed to fit our operational needs. The same opportunities exist today.  Don’t reinvent the wheel—make the tools fit your specific department, response area, and resources.

Over the last few months, I have been toying with an idea that was passed down from a well-respected fire officer in Connecticut that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through my continuing education.  His idea was simple, cost effective, and was a good fit for his department’s operational needs.  In this short training article, I will discuss how I combined his idea with yet another concept being pushed and promoted around the fire service to fit my department’s needs.

Concept 1: The “Bottle of Rope”

(Concept and Photo Credit: Captain Joseph V. Coppola: City of Norwalk, CT Fire Department)

For many of the structures within his response area, the best option for upper level hose advancement is a back porch stretch. Along with a thermal imaging camera (TIC) and a set of forcible entry tools, he keeps the bottle shown in the above photograph in the officer’s compartment of his rig.

The “Rope Bottle” consists of an old bleach bottle, 50’ of 11 mil life safety rope, and a large carabiner. His tool cache of the TIC, forcible entry tools, and rope bottle go with him for every fire on a second floor or greater, and it has proven its worth during recon missions that identify a need for a hose line to extinguish an area with extension or to address exposure concerns.  Rather than retreating back to the street, the carabiner and rope can be thrown down to the pump operator who then can hook the carabiner to the bale of the nozzle for hoisting to his location.

A few key benefits:

  • A shorter length of hose can be stretched

  • Less opportunity for kinks or couplings getting caught on stairs

  • Leaves the stairwell and porch steps open for egress or additional crews

In my response area, the likelihood of our crews having to advance hose up and around erected staging and back porches is also high, so the “Rope Bottle” concept definitely has a purpose in my department.  Rather than reinventing the wheel, I modified it to better fit our operational needs by including another concept passed down through the brotherhood.  

Concept 2: Bring the First 50 to the Door

Utilizing the principle of bringing the nozzle and first coupling to the door will make for an easier stretch no matter how your hose is packed and stored on the rig.  To implement this principle, flake the first 50’ of the hoseline in an accordion fashion in folds of roughly 10 feet.  Make sure that both the nozzle and the first coupling end up at the door.  


Combining Concepts

The two (2) pictures above illustrate how I combined both concepts by simply feeding the hose into the bale and capturing it with the carabiner and rope.

With this in place, when a hose line is needed, I simply drop the bottle of rope to the pump operator, where it can be connected, allowing our crew on the upper level to perform a more effective and efficient stretch from over a porch or staging.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I utilized the information passed on from seasoned firefighters that have successfully used these concepts in the field already. As firefighters, it is our responsibility to pass on what we have learned to other firefighters. Learning new techniques helps us to become more efficient and effective in our jobs. Passing them on to other firefighters is part of your responsibility to leave it better than you found it.

AB Turenne is a 24-year veteran of the fire service in Eastern Connecticut and is currently a Training & Safety Captain in Middlesex County, CT.

As a Certified Level II Fire Service Instructor, AB's training curriculum has proven to be conducive with the operational needs of those he teaches and in turn has improved the human capital knowledge of many.

A graduate from the Master of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College, AB has continued his efforts in training and education by contributing to the Fire Engineering Training Community.

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