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Trics of the Trade: Hoselines Trapped Under the Door

The priority is getting water back into the hoseline, but crews may encounter difficulty in removing the door.

 Beep! Attention Engine 42, Engine 92, Engine 46, Ladder 44, Ladder 27 and the 56 Battalion, respond to a phone alarm, 1245 Weeks Ave, between Monroe and the Cross Bronx for a structure fire. Battalion 56, be advised we are filling out the box due to numerous calls you have Rescue 3 and Squad 41 responding, Battalion 56?

Battalion 56, 10-4.

Engine 42 arrives first and transmits a working fire on the fourth floor of a six-story brick and joist multiple dwelling. The members get off the rig knowing what to do. They have been together for years and know the drill.

They grab the 1 3/4-inch hose line and start for the building. Down the courtyard and into the building. The officer signals to them it's in the "B" wing so they go to the right and start for the stairs. "We got a well," the engine officer yells to them and they start the stretch up. Up the stairwell and down the hallway they go, listening to the boss give them directions through the smoke as the door man flakes out the line.

They arrive at the apartment door and the nozzleman tells the boss they are ready for water. He radios the chauffeur and he starts water. The boss tells his crew that the door is unlocked and he has found the fire down the hall and to the left, two rooms down. "It looks like we got the whole front of the apartment going" he says.

The control man enters the front door of the building as the boss is calling for water. He has flaked out the line and continues to do so as he chases kinks, working his way toward the fourth floor. But, as he passed through the front door of the building, a civilian bumped into him. He also jarred loose the chock, and the door closed over the hoseline.

The line gets charged and the nozzle man bleeds the line. "Ready? Let's go," the boss says as they advance down the hall. They get to the fire and he tells the nozzle man to open up. As he does, the hoseline gives a burst of water and goes limp. He closes the nozzle, the line gets hard and he tries again. The line spits some water and goes limp giving just enough water to intensify the heat.

Ladder 27 arrives on the scene and hears Engine 42's crew call for water. As they are walking into the court yard, the line is being charged. When they get to the front door, it is shut over the line and locked. The truck crew starts forcible entry, and the door is wedged into the opening now because of the charged line.

"Engine 42 to chauffeur, more pressure, we need more water!" "10-4 Boss" the Chauffeur sees the pressure and knows he has is right, but gives them a few more PSI. "You got water boss!" he replies.

"Ladder 27 to Engine 42, your line is under the front door! We're working on getting it free. Back out! Back out!"

The engine crew backs out to the hallway and closes the apartment door to confine the fire until they have water.

Does this sound far fetched? Not by a far shot. So what do you do when your line is stuck under a door, charged and you're stuck on the wrong side of the door? The number one priority here is to get water back into that line.

Just a few months ago, I found myself in a similar situation. Not as critical as this, but never the less, face-to-face with an expanding fire, two of my men and I were with no water. The civilian left the apartment door open to allow the fire to roll down the public hallway, but was kind enough to close the front door to the apartment building, on top of our hose line!

The small set back was remedied quickly by the first-due ladder company and all was well.

A few years ago, we would have been discussing how to do this with a Halligan and an axe. But now everyone has a hydraulic forcible entry tool so we will go with that method first. You would think that going for the lock first would be the best thing to do in a situation like this. That's not always the case. The priority here is to get the engine water.

Make Sure The Engine Has Water Supply
Once a charged line gets stuck under a door, you can not just open it normally (see Photos 1 and 2). Even our conventional forcible entry can take some time and those firefighters on the other side of the door don't always have a lot of time.

Take the hydraulic forcible entry tool and place it on the floor adjacent to the hose line (see Photo 3). By expanding (raising) the bottom of the door you will get water to the engine and we can give them a fighting chance. As the tool expands, the water will start to flow back in to the line (see Photos 4 and Photo 5.) At this point listen for the sound of water bouncing off the walls fighting the fire and contact the engine officer to ascertain that they do indeed have enough water to continue the fight.

Once the water is flowing in the line again place a Halligan tool under the door to maintain your purchase (see Photo 7).

Forcing The Door
Once you have the purchase and water flowing, try to force entry on the lock side. The door may have become wedged in to the point that you will have to work both sides of the door, working your way down until you remove the door completely from the opening (see Photo 8.) You may also need two or even three Halligan tools to complete this evolution.

The same would apply to using a Halligan. You will have to continue to force the bottom of the door to get the water to the engine and then work the sides of the door (see Photo 9.

This is by no means the only way to do this and it's a basic skill. The trick here is to know what to do when the situation presents itself so you are not using trial and error when there are brothers or sisters in need.

Practice this a few times and put it in your tool box. This is just one more...Tric of the Trade.

TONY TRICARICO, a Contributing Editor, retired as a captain with the FDNY assigned to the Special Operations Command at Squad 252. A 32-year veteran of the fire service and a past chief of Mount Sinai, NY, Fire Department, he is a nationally certified instructor and teaches at the FDNY Technical Rescue School, Suffolk County Fire Academy and around the country.  You can reach Tony by e-mail at