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.
One 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.
Clearwater 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)
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)
There 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.