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Crosslay Configurations as published in Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Magazine

For Departments that run with crosslays (or Mattydales, which ever term you prefer), this is usually a simple request to the apparatus manufacturer that can be added to your new rig. It’s as simple as asking to “Please put two crosslays on along with all the associated piping and dividers” and boom we are done, let’s move on to the next component or option.

More and more I find that Departments are taking a closer look at all their choices when building their new apparatus and using those choices to operationally enhance their rig. As part of this, we’re seeing a new array of options and special orders being added to the crosslay part of the fire truck build. If you do run with crosslays, this is normally the primary attack line you’re going to deploy off your apparatus for the majority of your structure fires. Rather than settle for the standard crosslay, use your power as the purchaser to enhance this option for your response area.

IMG_0031One of the trends we’ve seen recently is the lowering of the crosslays.  Doing so makes it easier for firefighters to reach and deploy the crosslay, without having to climb up on a side step or worse having to pull out a step to reach them. This enhancement reduces the chance of injury and allows a more rapid deployment, something all Departments strive for nowadays. One warning — lowering the crosslay may make things really tight in the pump-house area and could cause the mechanics to not like you, but sometime we have to do these kinds of things to enhance operations.

A few years ago we decided to lower the crosslays on the engines at the City of Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department. After this change, one of the next things we did was move the swivel valve or chicksaw valve closer to the edge of the apparatus. This allowed for the whole pre-connect to be easily disconnected and used to extend a line or replace a line at the full length. The change eliminated the need to put pony sleeves (short sections) on the discharges when the swivel valves were placed in the center of the crosslays. This was another great idea we happened to see on a factory trip and quickly added as an option to our rigs.



Picture 1Clearwater currently uses the crosslay as a double stack of hose, one side is 100’ of shoulder load and the one beside it is a 100’ drag load. This side by side configuration is pretty normal with crosslays as a whole on fire apparatus but with the modification of a lower crosslay and valve moved to the edge. (Picture 1 & 6) How you rack your hose is entirely up to the local jurisdictions; the Clearwater configuration is a minuteman load. We have two – 200’ foot lines with a nozzle off each side.


Back in the early 2000’s I helped to develop specifications for an engine with the Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department in Fairfax County Virginia. Instead of the standard double stack of hose in each crosslay, we decided to go with single stacks for what we felt was an easier deployment. This eliminated the chance of the drag load falling over once the shoulder load was pulled off. It proved to be a great design for the Firefighters who pulled the lines off and made for a quick, neat and controlled deployment. This option has been used by other cities, as evidenced by this picture from the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Squad 8 crosslay configuration. (Picture 2)

Picture 2 Harrisburg runs three of each length of hose off each side of the rig (150’, 200’ and 250’) all in the single stack deployment. This works extremely well for their tight urban streets and allows them to run lines to the seat of the fire, to rear porches and down the block if needed, all using the minuteman load. One of the added features they spec’d on their crosslays was for the discharge to be completely out of the crosslay and on the pump panel under each hose stack. (Picture 2 and Picture 3) This discharge placement allows to more quickly disconnect the line for deployment to extend a line or replace a burst section. These single stack crosslays and the placement of the discharge on the panel can limit your ability to pull the crosslay from each side, but I think both Bailey’s and Harrisburg weighed the decision and chose a configuration best suited for their response area and operations.

Running the big attack line is not left out of the crosslay talk, as Departments have chosen a wider crosslay and piping to accommodate the 2.5” lines and even 3” crosslays. This allows to not have to deploy this line off the rear and saves room for more supply line or a host of other options that could be placed off the rear.  (Picture 4 & 5)



Picture 7There has been a lot of focus and conversation around the options associated with the crosslay, associated piping and racking of the lines. Ultimately though, these construction features will not help you pull lines any better.  This only comes from having your Firefighters practice deploying lines any chance that they can get. Don’t let a fire call go by without making use of the incident to make us better at pulling, stretching and positioning our crosslays for an attack. New fire studies tell us the art form of hoseline stretching and operations is crucial to fire extinguishment. Make use of all your apparatus option choices to make the crosslay ergonomic and firefighter friendly. But remember, we still have people that pull these lines and the more practice we give them, the better the outcome on the fire.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Training Resources | Posted on 22-03-2016

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Drill Topic for Saws

Varying Positions for Rotary Saws copy

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, Truck Company | Posted on 25-03-2015

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Making the tragedy personal is the first step in preventing the next Line of Duty Death.

 “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Joseph Stalin

After recently reading Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, and his use of this quote, I pondered if this quote from the feared Communist leader Joseph Stalin could help reduce our line of duty deaths and the answer is YES! While Stalin’s quote was most likely intended for more sinister purposes it does have merit when discussing LODD’s.

First, we are provided statistics in our trade on a daily basis but usually with no associated instructions on what do with the data. Specific to line of duty deaths, we know we average approximately 100 LODD’s, we know the percentages related to what activities, age, gender, etc. are when the catastrophic incident occurred, and we are provided some general recommendations that apply to that affected fire department. But how do we curb the trend of LODD’s based on the statistics provided within our department that may be similar or, more likely, vastly different. Without having this information the line of duty deaths simply become just statistics. This noticeable gap in the equation was the catalyst for 25 to Survive: Reducing Residential Injury and LODD. We took the opportunity to interpret the data and provide solutions to overcome the identified causes in the LODD reports that may be implemented in any fire department.IMG_2074

When we delve into Stalin’s quote and couple it with our process of reviewing LODD reports we can begin to understand that we lose focus on the loss of one firefighter, the tragedy in this case, and focus more on the statistics. For instance, most can recite the average number of LODD’s, but if the LODD did not occur in their department, I would venture to say they couldn’t recite the name of the person who was killed. This behavior is conditioned with the vast amount of mind-numbing statistics, figures, and graphs we receive but it can be altered. Mother Theresa offered a way we can begin to change that trend when she stated,

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Mother Theresa

The numbers are an important metric to demonstrate if we are changing the trend for better or worse but what is important is the person. If we learn the person, we establish a connection and we will learn the story. That story will open your eyes to factors leading up to the LODD and what can be done NOW to prevent it from occurring again. Simply glossing over the numbers will not provide that connection and leads to only honoring someone after they have died which is a disservice.

This process, placing a name and face to the tragedy, is referred to as the “identifiable victim effect” and is utilized everyday in our society to garner your donations or solicit your support. The most notable example is the Ryan White story. While AIDS was very prevalent in the 90’s and everyone had an increased level of awareness, it was something distant and happened in a far away land. That is, until Ryan White contracted AIDS and his was someone you knew. He was an all-American teenager who everyone could associate with; he looked like your son, nephew, the kid down the street, etc.

Ryan became the poster child for AIDS in American and his struggle, and eventual death, led to the Ryan White act. This happened because the AIDS epidemic became the story about a person who you could get to know and support, the epidemic got the attention needed and continues to this day.

How do we parlay this identifiable victim effect into our trade and begin changing the trend of LODD’s in the fire service? We must learn the person. Much like the supporters of Ryan White, we must be most diligent supporters of our fallen firefighters and use the identifiable victim effect to our benefit. The easiest way to start this trend is to review the statistics but also take the time and read the story of each LODD. When you select a report to review with your firefighters take the time to learn:

  • What was their name?
  • What did they look like (put a name to the face)?


    Lt. Pete Lund – June 14th, 2005

  • Where did they work, how many years of service, etc.?
  • What actions were they doing when the LODD occurred?
  • What were the contributing causes to their death that you could apply to your department and operations?
  • What can I do (skill, tip, technique, policy, etc.) to prevent this from occurring in my department, which would honor the memory and sacrifice of the fallen firefighter?

We know firefighters die in the line of duty driving to and from incidents, suffering cardiovascular incidents, and performing their jobs on the fireground amongst many other activities. Your goal is to match the problem or obstacle you are trying to overcome with the story of a fallen firefighter.

For example, if you are teaching new apparatus operators and want to stress the incredible responsibility with this position, pick one of the 17 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2012 responding/returning to an incident. If you are discussing the importance of coordinated ventilation, discuss the LODD of Louis Matthews and Anthony Phillips of the DCFD at the Cherry Road, N.E. fire in 1999. The list is unfortunately vast and plentiful to choose from and each one deserves our recognition.

All the motivation you will need to make yourself, your fellow firefighters, and the future of your fire service, exists in the LODD reports. Learn their stories, share it with your firehouse family, and motivate them to prevent the LODD’s. When we can place a name and face to a cause we naturally rally together to prevent it from happening again. Make them real for the people, learn details of their lives to make more of an impression on the candidates. Saying that a certain firefighter adored only the best keychain knives, might be random but it makes the victim real in the eyes of the people. Take the LODD’s from being just statistics of catastrophic incidents that happen in a far away land and make that tragedy your motivation to help one person at a time and make that one person that firefighter that may be charging down the smoky hallway with you later tonight.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, fire-rescue-topics, firefighter-safety-health, firefighting-operations, in-the-line-of-duty, line-of-duty, RIT / Survival, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 05-02-2015

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Building Leaders for the Fire Service – Part 2………..By Dan Shaw

Last post we discussed the process of orientation for leadership development, which was essentially relying upon operational manuals or standard operating procedures as the foundation for leadership. While these documents may be necessary for building the knowledge for rank and position (remember leadership is not a given with rank!), it is not a process for developing leaders of people.  This process does more to build effective managers and not leaders who must motivate and cultivate people. Orientation leaves a void in the leadership paradigm but does provide the opportunity to introduce the process of socialization for our budding leaders. Socialization is the process of learning and developing a culture that is aimed toward the common defined purpose. The overriding theme in this process is that it is centered on people and not what is printed on department documents.  Fortunately, we are given opportunities to demonstrate the skills learned from socialization daily in our profession. Examples span from the challenges and adversity faced on the fireground to the relative calmness of the firehouse kitchen table.

Let’s go back to our aspiring lieutenant who has now passed his examination and is freshly promoted. He reports for his first day in his new assignment at a firehouse at which he has never worked. His brand new shift gathers around the firehouse kitchen table to have their shift briefing at 0700 hours.  All 15 sets of eyes turn to the new lieutenant for his first words of wisdom and leadership.

Is this critical moment for our leader outlined in the manuals? Before this moment, he was one of those 15 sets of eyes looking at the “Loo”; Now he is the boss and he must capitalize on this first opportunity to lead. As a fire service, we must be humble enough to ask ourselves if we have prepared our new lieutenant for this initial challenge. The answer is most likely we have not, and this is where our socialization process can assist.

When the new officer has been prepared for his new role through a mixture of the core principles of the orientation and socialization processes, he is ready for this challenge and greets it as an opportunity. At his first shift briefing, he seizes that moment when all fifteen sets of eyes of his new family are staring at him and offers, “What do you expect of me as your lieutenant?”  This is the perfect demonstration of socialization.

The orientation process has taught him what the organization expects of him, but did not address what his new “culture” expects of him. Sure, he could rule with the iron fist and invoke adherence to each and every procedure of the department, but his shift already knows the rules. They may test him by pushing the rules every so often, but if that is consuming all of his time, he is not truly leading, he is just a custodian of the department rules.

His new culture is this group of dedicated firefighters who yearn to be led. They will offer a wide spectrum of skills, personalities, and idiosyncrasies that he must manage and guide to the common goal he sets forth.  If the culture were highly functioning and successful prior his arrival he will be greeted with utter failure if he alters it solely because he thought he supposed to as an assumed part of a requirement of being a new officer. Now that we understand the difference between our orientation process and socialization process, how do we begin the implementation process? It’s not as hard you may think and only takes a few tools properly applied. To explain this process let’s use an example most firefighters who are parents can appreciate.

On a snowy day on the east coast in February, I was with my kids in a trampoline park watching them jump up and down and realizing this is the perfect example of leadership. You, the leader who has the knowledge, skills, and abilities coupled with the socialization skills to understand you lead people who have norms, values and expectations of you, are like this trampoline park.

This indoor park is covered with a massive roof that shields us from the 10-degree temperatures outside. As a leader, you provide this shelter for your people, offering that haven to them while they hone their leadership skills. For example, when you face a crisis – a house on fire with black smoke belching out of the front door, reported people trapped, and the heat keeping you inches off of the floor, do your people follow you without doubt or do they question their willingness to follow you? It is natural human chemical reaction of our brain that people want to feel safe and that is provided by having confidence in the person providing this feeling. As a leader, you should be demonstrating this long before this fire ever occurs. You’re investing in your people; teaching, training, and giving your time to them. This does not mean any person can simply seek haven under your leadership. Only those who are accountable to their actions, compliant to the established parameters (rules, order, S.O.P.’s), and aspire for greatness will have that shelter. If you don’t follow the rules of the trampoline park, you can’t come in and seek shelter and the same is true under your leadership. This is the essence of that shared relationship that must exist between the leader and his followers.


Have a purpose, set the boundaries, and watch your people soar.

Going back to our leadership example of the trampoline house we can see the second part of leadership being demonstrated. Now that my kids have a feeling of safety and know the basics rules of the facility, they can now jump! Is this jumping 5’, 10’, 15’ in the air safe? Nope, but they are doing it anyway because they have faith in arena they are operating, faith in their skills and are striving for greater heights. They have been given the rules of the park and now are free to demonstrate their autonomy. The feeling of safety has led them to not operate under fear of failure but rather eager to seek an opportunity to achieve new heights.

We, as leaders, must create an environment where our people feel free to seek greater heights. They must know the boundaries of the job and then they must be fostered to strive for greater heights without fear of failure. Sure failure will come, in the trampoline park it is usually a misplaced fall or failed attempt at a flip, which culminates with a laugh, and an attempt to do it again successfully. In our world, we will surely fail but wouldn’t we want that to occur in the training and not on the fireground where lives are dependant upon our precise performance? Our people must feel a level of autonomy in completing the mission along with encouraging that constant craving to achieve mastery.

As you can see there is no mention of me soaring through the air with my kids, rather me just marveling at their prudent risk-taking. I don’t do it because my knee surgeon has convinced me that it is not a prudent idea so I leave my risk taking to other arenas. Is what they are doing ‘safe’? Is what we do in our job ‘safe’? Absolutely not, and the term safe is used too arbitrarily and without attention to it’s true meaning. The Webster dictionary defines safe as free from harm. There is not one aspect of charging into a house on fire that is the least bit “safe” regardless of the level of PPE, staffing, etc. you may have with you.  As leaders, we should strive for teaching our people to learn and exercise prudent risk taking. When we literally interpret and falsely attempt to portray a safe fireground, it can appear more like risk aversion than being safe. If we are leading correctly, than we have already laid the groundwork and are teaching our people how to exercise prudent risk taking and not being handcuffed by misplaced terms. This begins with the leader knowing both the orientation process and the socialization process.

The weight on a leader is immense because he or she must be a daily learner in addition to being a dedicated teacher. If we are not learning every day, then we are not leading. Take a moment and analyze YOUR leadership style, not what your organization expects of you (orientation). What do you expect of yourself as the leader, and what do your people expect of you (socialization)? Leadership is not about the number of people you leave in your wake on your ascension up the ranks, but the number of people you have brought with you cutting through the waves.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Incident Command, news | Posted on 10-10-2014

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BCFD3As we start the week off, lets take today to review your departments MAYDAY policies. These tasks, procedures and policies need to be practiced and reinforced through training constantly. We sometimes put this off to one time a year or when the next monthly drill is about RIT/RIC to brush up on these crucial tasks. Take some time today to go over these things:

What is your department’s procedure for calling a MAYDAY?

What is the information that the MAYDAY firefighter or crew needs to relay to the IC or crews outside?

Can you activate your emergency button on your radio (if you have one) with gloves on? If you can’t there are tricks to do that…

Can you blindly make the connection to buddy breath for a downed firefighter, RIGHT NOW without practice?

Are you blindly familiar with your department RIT/RIC pack?

If you cannot answer YES to all these questions, then get out of the chair or push back from the kitchen table and get out on the apparatus floor and work on them with yourself and your company.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, firefighting-operations | Posted on 29-09-2014

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Building Leaders for the Fire Service – Part 1………..By Dan Shaw

Leadership is a quality we seek and desire in every level of our trade. Most of us are fortunate to be exposed daily to leadership models through our mentors, books we read of leaders from all walks of life (military, religion, politics, etc.), and the challenges we face in our own lives. Inherently, the more inspired, driven, and dedicated individuals are, they typically seek and find more opportunities to reap the rewards of leadership lessons than their more passive counterparts. This does not mean that individuals who are more passive or who may not have access to mentorship should be admonished from leadership positions. Additionally, we cannot limit individuals who are unsure of how to seek out a mentor and now may feel unqualified to take on a leadership role. Lastly, individuals who may work with a micromanager who stifles his co-workers’ autonomy should not be denied entry to the leadership club because of their boss’s shortcomings.

As an aspiring leader, when you look at your organization, firehouse, shift, company, etc., what kind of leadership development do you see? Does your department reward only the hard workers and dedicated individuals with their time? Time is that one irreplaceable gift that cannot be taken back and has an endless value. If you give someone your time in the form of mentoring and teaching, that is eternal and will never be forgotten. On the other hand, perhaps you have timid & passive individuals, or those who have been conditioned that low performance is the standard, and are most likely given less time and opportunities to learn leadership lessons. Your department may operate as one of those listed, a combination of both, or just lacking a plan all together. The solution to this problem is the crux of the leadership question: Do you breed your leaders through an orientation process or a socialization process?

When I attended the West Point Leadership Course for public safety a few years ago we analyzed the foundation of this question. The orientation process is what we see occur most every day in the modern day fire service. An individual has the desire to move ahead in their career and advance to the next rank. The firefighter submits for the lieutenant’s exam and will receive a list of approved texts that will compose the forthcoming promotional exam. The list will most likely encompass all of his organizations’ personnel and operational manuals covering all of the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the next level of “leadership” to become an officer.

While it is necessary to evaluate one’s ability to recite proper handling of personnel issues and proper application of strategies and tactics, it is not the sole means of leadership development! I would liken this process to a person who reads a cookbook minutes before walking in to teach a cooking class. They can recite the proper ingredients and may even sound confident, but they do not know the trade as well as the seasoned chef. The level of mastery they will exhibit will be limited to their short-term memory of reciting what they just read. In the orientation process, we have provided the manuals that outline the skills and define the expectation that the individual will go execute them perfectly. This approach may work for some, but for most, it is a recipe for disaster given we have an expectation that this execution will occur in the toxic and chaotic environment known as our fireground.


A brand new fire officer will not arrive at his first house fire, stop in the front yard, retrieve his “house fire” manual from his pocket, review the correct tactics, and then communicate his orders (or at least we hope not!). The testing process and the development and implementation of manuals are all necessary tools to aid and evaluate our leaders. These documents are the infrastructure that builds the figurative out-of-bounds lines for our operations leaving the field of play yet they leave out one vitally important part of the leadership equation. WE LEAD PEOPLE! Not apparatus, hoselines, ladders, etc., etc. People must apply the strategies and tactics outlined and they are the most important assets we deploy on any fireground. They are irreplaceable and yearn to be led. So, how do we make this change in leadership development that can blend the needed foundation of knowledge with teaching how to lead people and exercise sound judgment? And what is that change called? In our next post, we will discuss the Socialization process for leadership development.

Posted by | Posted in Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, firefighting-operations, Incident Command, Uncategorized | Posted on 01-08-2014

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Let’s Talk Water Supply… By TT Instructor Tim Bautz

TT water supply article

Let’s Talk Water Supply…..A crucial Engine Co. task

Depending on where you volunteer or work, establishing a water supply can be quite simple and quick…… or it can be complicated, time consuming and require multiple apparatus. My “Small Town” fire department has both. We have areas in our municipality that have hydrants every 500’ and we have areas that don’t have any type of water source for over a mile. Either way, we have to get water to the scene and we have get it there quickly or things will not go well.

So as not to complicate things, lets break this article down into 2 parts. First we’ll talk about those areas that are fortunate enough to have reasonable hydrant spacing. The second part will talk about those areas where we have to go a long way to get the water, or perhaps shuttle it in.

Part 1: Here we will discuss establishing a water supply in areas with good hydrant spacing. We have enough supply hose to complete our own water supply.

1st Due Engine…… Lay Out, or don’t Lay Out ?

I find this topic to be one that is often debated; at least it is where I am, so I figured that it probably is for some of you as well.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term “laying out”, it’s the act of laying a supply line in an effort to establish a water supply.

Before we get into this article, let me first say that I am NOT talking about incidents such as automatic alarms but rather a reported structure fire, smoke coming from a structure, an odor of smoke inside a structure and even an appliance on fire. I think you guys get the picture. Allow me also to mention that I am a huge advocate of “laying out” for these, and similar types of incidents, with the 1st due engine.

wp72cbf495_06For those who do lay out with the 1st due engine, I’ll be preaching to the choir. For those who do not lay out with the 1st due engine, I would like to point some things out and bring them to your attention. Consider:

1. What size booster tank do you have? 500 gallons is certainly the most common size in the fire service, but there are bigger sizes out there….750, 1000 and tanker pumpers with 2,500 gallons. If your first due is a 2,500 gallon tanker pumper, I can certainly understand if you don’t lay out with it and have the 2nd due engine do it for you. You have quite a bit of water in that tank to start with. But those of us with 500 or 750 gallons need to be a bit more careful.

2. Along with the size of your tank, what size attack line do you typically pull and with what type / gallonage nozzle? 1 3/4” hose is most commonly used today. A smooth bore nozzle with a 15/16” tip will flow185 gpm. There are fixed gallonage nozzles that flow 125, 150, 175 gpm and greater depending on what you purchased and at what pressure you pump them.

So what’s the point with these first two considerations? Well, you’d be surprised how many departments out there don’t know what gpm their nozzles flow. If you have a 500 gallon tank and you have a nozzle that flows 175 -185 gpm, you’ll be out of water in 2 minutes and 30 seconds! (Not every gallon of water gets out of the tank and out of the nozzle, some water is left in the line). If the 2nd due engine hasn’t laid out, broken the supply line in the hose bed, tied into themselves or your engine, connected the supply line at the other end to the hydrant and charged the supply line within that 2m 30 sec, it’s game over for a little bit until it has been done. My point here is, if you don’t lay out with the 1st due engine, you need to be knowledgable on what you have, how you’re using it and what kind of time you’re dealing with; otherwise, you’ll get caught with your pants down.

3. That leads me into how far behind is the 2nd due engine? In most smaller towns in suburban and rural areas, it’s going to be several minutes; thus, you may run out of water before that 2nd engine can establish the water supply for you.

4. What if you arrive and it’s not an 1 3/4” line fire? Maybe it’s a 2 1/2” line fire. Most departments run smoothbore nozzles on their 2 1/2” lines and, depending on tip size, will flow between 265 gpm and 325 gpm. That’ll blow through your 500 gal. and 750 gal. tank really quickly. Let’s take it a step further and say that you may actually have to hit it first for a minute with the deck gun / wagon pipe……. forget it, you’re done….out of water.

5. What’s the building stock of the area that you are responding into? Is it built with lightweight material that will burn faster and hotter, creating a ton of BTUs, thus creating the need for more gpm ?

The purpose here is certainly not to tell anyone who doesn’t lay out with the 1st due engine that you’re wrong. That’s not the purpose at all. The purpose is to make you evaluate what you’re doing with what you have available.

Personally, I cannot think of many reasons not to be proactive and lay out. The pros outnumber and outweigh the cons. The worst case scenario is that you don’t end up having an incident where a water supply was needed and you rack it back on the engine….no big deal unless you and your crew suffer from laziness. That pales in comparison to the other side of the coin; when you suspect that the call is nothing, arrive to find a working fire and run out of tank water before the next arriving engine can lay out and establish the water supply for you. Unfortunately, the latter scenario happens all too often.

1915546_1142606738245_7949144_nI will mention one of the cons that I often hear when discussing this issue, “I don’t want to delay the 1st engine by having them stop and lay a supply line. I want them to come straight in and make a fast attack”. OK, I can understand that…. I get it. But here’s my stance on it- it shouldn’t take more than 10 seconds to stop and wrap the hydrant. Not if you’re set up for it and train on it. For example, in my department we have 5” supply hose. The last 15’ of supply line is “bundled up” with a rope around it. The rope hangs down to the back step. All we have to do is get out of the truck and run around the back of the engine, pull the rope which will bring off the 15’ of bundled 5”, open up the rear compartment door and grab the “hydrant bag” which contains the hydrant wrench, spanner wrenches and various adaptors and and away the engine goes…….We train our members on it so that it never takes more than 10 seconds. In my opinion, that is a 10 seconds well spent, to know that we are establishing our own water supply and are not dependent on the next arriving engine, which is probably several minutes behind us.

Whether you currently do or do not lay out with the 1st due engine, here is something else to consider :

1. Do we leave a guy at the hydrant to make the connection and charge the supply line? Do we not leave anyone at the hydrant, just wrap it and go and have the engine chauffeur ran back to connect it to the hydrant and charge it? Do we wrap it and go and then have the 2nd due engine just make the connection to the hydrant and charge it? The answer is certainly situationally dependent. It’s dependent on staffing. Can we afford to leave someone at the hydrant? Personally, I like to leave a guy at the hydrant to make the connection and charge the supply line. Once that is done, he can come up to the scene and fulfill the remainder of his riding assignment task.

If you’re not laying out with the 1st due engine, hopefully I’ve given you some things to consider that may have you re-thinking your position on the matter.

photo09_lgPart 2 : Here we will discuss establishing a water supply in more rural areas. Fire Hydrants…….

What are those ?

The hairs on my neck always stand up when a “Box” is dispatched in an area without hydrants. Immediately the concern of getting water to the scene is the priority. It certainly isn’t our fault that we have areas that don’t have hydrants; however, we do need to deal with it and overcome it.

The key in these areas is to have SOPs, dispatch procedures and mutual aid plans in place long before the call ever comes in.

Let’s take an area that has no water source for miles, not even a static source such as a lake. The best thing you could have done for yourself, your department and your community is to have had a “pre determined dispatch card” that has a “water supply task force” or a “tanker strike team” on it. Something at the dispatch center that gets tankers, or tenders as some areas of the country call them, coming to the scene automatically. If you don’t have this set up for yourself, please consider it.

Some thoughts to consider regarding tanker shuttles :

  1. How many tankers will you need? That depends on the anticipated flow that will be needed, which comes back to knowing your 1st due and your building stock. The number of tankers needed also depends on the size of the tankers Are they 2,500 gallon, 3,500 gallon?
  2. You’ll need to set up a fill site and place an engine there to fill the tankers up.
  3. Will the tankers nurse the 1st due engine or will you set up portable tanks that theydump their water into, possibly creating the need for another engine which will draft out of the portable tanks?

Now let’s look at an area that has a lake or a hydrant….but it’s 3/4 of a mile (approximately 4,000 feet) from our fire.

fire_hoseConsiderations :

1. How many engines do we need to complete the lay? That depends on how much supply hose you carry, which may vary from engine to engine. Again, something you need to know before the call comes in.

  1. How many in-line engines will I need to compensate for the friction loss in a 4,000’ supply line? That’s dependent on several factors such as the size (diameter) of the supply line, the anticipated GPM flowing through the supply line (remember, the greater the gpm, the more friction loss you’ll have) and the terrain that the supply line is on. (Is it on flat ground? Uphill?)
  2. It will be very time consuming setting up a long supply line with the necessary in-line engines. In this situation you may want to have a “water supply task force” or “tanker strike team” consisting of a few tankers responding to give your 1st due engine adequate water while the supply line is being laid out.
  3. Even if you are quite efficient and quick with setting up a long supply line, those tankers may be nice to have in a nearby staging area, just in case something fails in that 4,000’ supply line. A lot can go wrong if just 1 length of supply line bursts, or 1 coupling fails or an engine develops a mechanical issue.

! To wrap up, if you don’t have SOPs regarding water supply, I urge you to consider developing them so that your crew knows the game plan ahead of time. You may be able to have just 1 SOP if your area is rather simple. If you have a complicated and diverse area, such as mine, you may need to develop multiple SOPs for various areas of your community. If you do have SOPs already in place, make sure that they still work for your department and community and that they aren’t outdated. Be certain that they will work based on your current apparatus and engine company equipment. Just because your department has had a water supply SOP in place for 20 years doesn’t mean that it’s what’s best for today’s fire.


Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Engine Company, firefighting-operations, Testimonials | Posted on 07-07-2014

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Consistency, Visual Cues & Options… By Keith Niemann, Captain E-10 Wichita Fire

Consistency, Visual Cues & Options

I’m a hose load junky, I said it.  Every time I travel to another department, or see pictures on the internet I always look at how the hose is loaded.  You can tell a lot from hose loads, if it’s neat and meticulous I tend to find the crews operate in a similar manor.  There is one thing more important than how the load looks, it’s how it pulls.  If given a chance I will often ask “how does this hose load work” and I’m surprised to find many crews have no idea.  Either it’s “loaded by another crew” or “it just looks pretty”.  Beyond how it physically deploys, or how it looks it only really “needs” to do one thing, deploy easily and effectively for the majority of the fires that crew will face.  There is no room on the engine for “parade loads” that look good, or “convenience loads” that just get thrown on to get a rig back in service.

For my crew, and the types of fires my engine fights, the gold standard is at least 50 feet of working line.  The working line needs to be placed in close proximity to the entry point, flaked out in a manner that it can be fed easily by our 3 person attack crew (plus MPO)…..and we have to be able to get it in service fast.  We also need the ability to get that hose into place through and across neglected yards  and to deal with houses converted to rear entrance duplexes or large garden style apartments in our first due.  Finally we needed a way to make sure our 2.5 deployed just as smooth and met the same standards as our 1.75 line deployment.  Much like any problem, we set down and came up with a list of goals and set about finding a solution.  We didn’t have to “invent” a new way, we just needed to adapt those lessons learned from within and outside of our department and apply them.  Two of the keys we found to success were “Consistency” amongst our hose loads, and the use of “visual cues”.  I think no matter what kind of hose load you use incorporating these things into it can help your crews be better at getting that first line in place.

The consistency component seems the easiest; just load the hose the same way for both 1.75 and 2.5 lines.  The reality is we will pull the 1.75 line the most often.  Whether it’s training or at fires, the ratio of pulling the 1.75 vs. 2.5 is probably 10:1.  Obviously we would like to pull the 2.5 more, but it’s not likely, and by loading the 1.75 and 2.5 the same way we compound our training.  If I pull the 2.5 tomorrow the muscle memory takes over and I even though this may only be the 3rd time I’ve pulled it this month, it’s the exact same motions as the 30 times I pulled the 1.75 line and my comfort level should be the same.  The difficulty with consistency between loads is can the different size hoses be loaded the same way on your rig, in our case that was a “maybe”.  Our crews had relied on transverse mounted pre-connected 200 foot hand lines that made loading of 2.5 and 1.75 lines the same way difficult (it also limited our deployment options as discussed below).  We did come up with a load that could be accomplished three wide (1.75) and two wide (2.5) and deployed the same way using the help of Visual Cues.  We used these as a stop gap until our new rigs arrived that moved the deployment back to rear hose beds with static attack lines.   With the rear static hose beds we are now able to load and deploy the lines identically.

















Here you can see rear static hose bed with the 2.5 and 1.75 hoses loaded side by side in the same manner and visual cues laid out identically.

Visual cues became one of the biggest keys to the success of our hose deployment.  We did not invent using visual cues to deploy our hose lines, we adapted it from places like Chief Dave McGrail’s highrise system.  Basically we decided to mark the halfway points on our hose like we had with our highrise packs (paint or colored tape) and use those visual cues along with tails (a.k.a. loops) and the couplings to make sure our hose always deployed the same.  By using the visual cues my crew can walk up at the start of the shift and in a glance know that the hose is loaded correctly and quickly deploy it, conversely they can take a quick look and know if they need to pull it off and reload the hose, there is no “I think it’s loaded ok”.











Here you can see the standard pre-connected load.  The long tails on the right side of the stack indicate the “working bundle” of line, the single loop on the left side of the stack is the “drivers loop”.  The nozzleman can easily see his bundle and throw it on his shoulder and take it to the fire as an intact 50 foot section.  Also visible is the blue “half way” markers in the sections.  When the nozzleman approaches he can drop the bundle at the door grab the half way mark and walk it back completing the stretch, he can also drop the bundle short and grab the nozzle and coupling walking it up if the stretch dictates.  The “drivers loop” is the visual indicator for the MPO, Layout man, or if needed the nozzleman to grab and clear the remaining line in the hose bed with no wasted effort. 











Here is the hose in the static beds, as you can see the nozzle and coupling are loaded at the end along with all the halfway points.  Just like the pre-connected lines, the nozzleman knows exactly where his section of working line is.  He can drop early and grab the nozzle and coupling walking up to the entry point; or he can drop at the entry point grab the halfway marks and walk it back.

I know that “options” and “consistency” seem a little contradictory but not in the context of this discussion.  There are many different hose loads out there, and many are good…for one type of stretch. We wanted something that could be used on small single family residences, garden apartments, 3 story walk-ups, varying setbacks and diverse approaches; our answer was going back to the static rear hose beds.  Now it doesn’t matter if the setback is short or long, or if the plug is before the residence or down the street.  The nozzleman can take his bundle and head to the entry point and stretches his line; everything else is handled by the officer, layout man and MPO.  If the set back is long the officer estimates the stretch and the needed line is pulled; if the plug is at the end of the street the MPO continues onto the plug to catch his hydrant once the bundle is pulled off the hose bed.  Keeping the working line deployment simple can be important since often the Junior guy is on the nozzle where the officer can directly supervise.  The positions that take care of the remaining hose (MPO, Officer, Layout) are typically more tenured and can overcome the small obstacles that increase the complexity of completing the stretch.   The last option we built into our system was the ability to “stretch forward” or “stretch away”.  We found if we set the hose up with the coupling and nozzle on the end as a visual indicator most of the time the nozzleman could lay his bundle down and grab the nozzle/coupling and walk up to the entry point for an effective stretch.  Unfortunately some yards or apartments made it difficult to drop early and perform a forward type stretch.  We overcame this by making sure all the halfway point visual indicators were lined up at the nozzle end as well.  Now if the nozzle needs to be dropped at the entry point the halfway points are grabbed and walked straight back making for a virtually identical result.











Here you can see the same line stretched both ways.  The straps on the left indicate the line was dropped at the entry point and “stretched away” and the picture on the right shows the bundle was dropped away from the entry point and “stretched forward”. 

As you can see our deployment is a constant evolution, and through trial and error I feel we were able to meet our goals.  Hopefully by sharing what we have found to other crews they can use similar methods to improve the deployment of their hoselines.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, Engine Company, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, Testimonials, Tips & Skills, Training Resources, training-development, training-fire-rescue-topics, Uncategorized | Posted on 23-05-2014

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EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY – All Risk Taking is Cancelled Until Further Notice

lazy_b8dbe1_279028By Larry Schultz

At every teaching opportunity, I make it a point to spend plenty of time talking about risk assessment and risk management. For the sake of discussion lets focus strictly on fireground operations.

My concern is and continues to be a growing and unashamed trending towards total risk aversion. I have theorized that there are many reasons for the rapid expansion in “risk avoider” cliques, some of which includes: wanting to be “progressive” fire department, a desire to be a “great fire service leader”, an inability to manage your members, ineffective at making your point through discussion and dialogue with others equally as intelligent as you are, fear of what other “great fire service leaders” might think of you if you don’t join the club and last but not least an inability to strategically and logically think through all aspects of the complexities of fire suppression and fireground management. If you get where I am going, this list could go on forever.

To be clear, my issue is not with defensive operations my stance on that is clear. We must always operate in the correct strategy (Offensive or Defensive), 100% of the time, once a PROPER risk assessment is completed (which needs to occur throughout the incident not just at the beginning). My issue is that many have gotten caught up in the emotions of death and injuries, causing them to lose their abilities to detach themselves from the feelings; long enough to have a discussion(s) based on logic, contemplative thought, competing believes, debate and yes even science. Some are even being dishonest brokers, using emotional warfare as a tool to cover for an inability to manage people and organizations.

norisklogoExample: If we cant enforce the policy for our drivers, to stop at every Stop Sign and red lights (as they MUST), while maintaining full control of the vehicle at the legal speed; or we have promoted people who cant or wont enforce policy, then it becomes much easier to simply coward under the auspice of “safety” by moving to all cold responses. That certainly is one way of gaining compliance and reducing injuries. Hey here is another thought:
• Train your drivers adequately
• Promote people who will enforce rules and regulations
• Validate compliance through the use of vehicle cameras and speed analysis
• Hold both driver and officer accountable for failing to follow policy, every person every time
• Conduct annual drivers license checks

Oh Schultzy, we can’t do that, it’s much easier to just avoid accidents all together. Ok then lets just be honest with the public and tell them we are going to send a FD vehicle (preferably an electric vehicle so we avoid toxic emissions) with one person, for every 911 call, to make sure it is in fact an emergency, then and only then are we willing to out our people at risk by allowing them to all come together on the fire truck. Let me know how that works out for you will you?

If we can’t get compliance from firefighters and fire officers to follow standard operating procedures on the fireground or our people are incapable of executing core basic skills without getting themselves hurt or killed; or if our Company Officers and Incident Commanders lack the ability to do a proper risk assessment, then lets just stop letting them go inside burning buildings. Hey, here’s another thought:
• Develop a comprehensive set of SOG’s
• Train your people on them and test them to make sure they know them
• Make them aware of the consequences for not following them (I know, I’m just mean like that)
• Hire capable thinking firefighters
• Once again, promote Officers who can enforce policy
• Make your people train every day
• Test them on core capability
• Confront fireground problems, each and every one of them, every single time.

There you go again Schultzy. I know, it was a momentary lapse in judgment. I was exhausted after a tough day at work (maybe I should stop working, its dangerous to think while your tired). It’s much simpler to just avoid the possibility of injury all together. Hey I’m ok with that if you’re honest and upfront about saying so. Not just in a blog, but to the public as well. Lets remove the part of our organizational mission statement, where we regurgitate our commitment to “protecting property” and just tell people, this is what we will do for you. If your house catches on fire and if you can guarantee us (with 100% certainty) that your family member(s) is still inside of your burning home, then and only then, will we expose our people to risk. If not, we are likely not to enter your home. The good news is we will work hard to extinguish the fire, by depositing thousands of gallons of water, through your roof until either the fire goes out or the water reaches the roofline, which ever comes first. Don’t forget; let me know how that works out for you.

I was recently reading a Forbes Magazine article on the 10 most dangerous jobs. You know which job doesn’t make the list? Well these did:
• Fisherman/Fisherwoman – I think we can all agree, it is senseless for people to die so we can eat seafood. I know an easy fix, criminalize fishing.
• Logging Workers – Is it ok for someone to be killed so we can have a new home or so our kids can do homework? Absolutely not, lets stop all logging activities and simply wait for the trees to fall down on their own. Oh wait, better not, at the rate we burn homes down, it creates supply and demand.
• Aircraft Pilots – Really? Allowing someone to lose his/her life just so you can vacation? I think not. Get those planes out-of-the-air immediately. Unless we need them to run water drops on that next Warehouse fire.
• Refuse Workers – How would we ever justify telling a child that their Dad died while picking up our trash. No more thrash collection. From here on out everyone has to burn his or her own trash. P.S. don’t burn to close to the house. The house may catch on fire and there wont be any planes to do air-drops, refuse workers to pick up the debris, loggers to cut wood for the new house or any seafood available to celebrate after you move in to your brand new home.

I hope you get the point. Using fear as a tactic to disguise an inability to think critically or to manage properly is just as ridicules as the ideas above. Its time to get serious, engage in dialogue, discussion and debate in a logical and professional manner and really figure out how we can do this most noble work in a manner that is both safe and effective.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, Commentary, fire-rescue-topics, firefighting-operations, fires, Testimonials, Uncategorized | Posted on 26-03-2014

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REALLY Are You Kidding Me?

photoI was on the Internet this morning and saw this picture posted on Facebook. It was bad enough that someone posted it, but the number of likes was even more disturbing. I will preface the rest of this blog with that I AM A REFORMED FIREFIGHTER. I was not always Combat Ready and I used many excuses to justify to myself my BAD habits and complacency.

None of those excuses were valid and they were just my attempt to place the blame on inanimate objects and conditions. To change my ways and to make me a better firefighter took a good company officer, someone to ensure that I was fully protected when entering our incident scenes, regardless if we had fire and smoke conditions presented upon arrival. That same company officer would make sure the company would be at the top of their game every run. This covered from the preparation put into the call even before it happened, preparing us for that incident through developed good habits on every call and anticipating that every sparking outlet or odor of smoke was a real fire.

No Internet site or picture should encourage our firefighters to not be fully prepared for each incident, and even worse not taking FULL advantage of the state of the art Personal Protective Ensemble that is afforded to today’s firefighters. The duty of the Company Officer or the person riding the right front seat is to champion the Combat Ready attitude and the donning of all PPE.

Do the right thing even when no one is watching, or in this case when someone important is not on the scene.

Posted by | Posted in administration-leadership, Blog, Combat Ready, command-leadership, firefighting-operations, Testimonials, training-development, Uncategorized | Posted on 15-03-2014