Most of us don’t realize how much responsibility the engine company shoulders at the scene of a fire. They are tasked with extinguishing the fire quickly, efficiently, and safely. That being said, we have all heard the phrase “as goes the first line so goes the fire.” The engine company has to pull the right line, make sure it’s the right length, and stretch it to the right place.
Quickly deciding the right line to stretch can be a daunting task for some. To help with this decision, we will examine 6 situations where stretching the 2-1/2″ hand-line is appropriate.
The acronym “ADULTS” will help us remember when it is the proper time to stretch the “big” line.
A – Advanced Fire Conditions
We have all rolled up on advanced fire conditions. If you are new to the fire service your time will come, trust me. Big fire means we need to hit it with big water, and the 2-1/2″ line will do just that. Its increased gallonage, increased stream reach and penetration make it an ideal choice to attack a fire that is way ahead of us.
D – Defensive Operations
When the initial arriving officer or incident commander decides that we will take a defensive position at a fire, we commonly think aerial master streams and deck guns. The 2-1/2″ is an important choice here as well. It gives us the ability to flow a lot of water, stay a safe distance away from the building with its increased stream reach, and supply portable master stream devices. Loop it and take a seat; you’ll probably be here awhile.
U – Unable to Determine Extent/Location of Fire
Arriving to a heavy smoke condition and no visible fire location should have us asking ourselves some questions. Commonly you will see members immediately reach for an 1-3/4″ pre-connect. Although they may be correct in their choice, they may make entry and find themselves “under gunned” — which means they now have a problem. The 2-1/2″ would be a smart choice, especially in any type of commercial occupancy.
L – Large Uncompartmented Area
Large noncompartmented areas can pose some problems for us, namely, the inability to confine a fire, rapid fire growth, and the potential for a high ceiling that will hold a lot of heat high over our heads. Frequently, we think we will encounter this scenario only in commercial type occupancies, such as schools, auditoriums, churches, and office buildings among others. However, in my district there are homes constructed in this manner, so a 2-1/2″ hand-line may very well be our initial choice when we arrive at the fire.
T – Tons of Water
Any time there is a need for a high volume of water, think of the 2-1/2″.
S – Standpipe Operations
Standpipes require the use of 2-1/2″ line. Lengths are carried up along with the standpipe bag and connections are made on the floor below the fire. Some departments are experimenting with their working length being 2″ hose for ease of maneuverability. (For an excellent tutorial on standpipes and sprinkler systems, read Andy Starnes’ four-part series beginning here.)
Training with the ADULTS acronym will enable us to quickly and easily determine when the 2-1/2″ hand-line is appropriate.
(It’s true the 2-1/2″ line can be difficult to handle. What are your tips and tricks to help make this line more manageable? Feel free to leave your tips and tricks in the comments section.)
Photos courtesy of Steve Silverman.