In this first part of the squad company, we will talk about the mission as an engine company, a truck company, and as a rescue company for a structure fires.
What exactly is a rescue/pumper? The answer to a question like that is dependent upon where you are in the good Ole' U. S. of A. As I have traveled about and talked to people in regards to rescue/pumpers, I have inevitably heard a great variety of answers. Some were good and some were great.
The squad concept was actually used during the first and second world wars in New York City. Around 1955, when New York City saw a massive increase in fires, they returned. With the advent of civil unrest, the demise of good neighborhoods and the insurance companies unwittingly making it profitable to lose a building to fire, it was a perfect combination to start burning down the city. Unscrupulous landlords would hire a petty street criminal-turned arsonist for a mere pittance to go and start a fire in a building. Once the building was no longer inhabitable, the landlord hit for the big bucks. But the landlords weren't the only ones taking advantage.
The tenants were doing pretty good themselves. When they caught on to the fact that they would get relocation monies and services, furniture and clothes all on the back of the city, it seemed like everyone was doing it. Hence, the services of the FDNY were pressed and they needed more manpower. One of the solutions was to create squad companies as a supplemental manpower pool. Going from fire to fire to work at the bequest of the chief in charge, these squads did what ever was needed at the scene. They worked until the fire was declared "under control" and were released to go to the next working fire.
Alas, the squads of yesteryear are gone, all disbanded until Squad 1 emerged by themselves as a special unit around 1977. They were the only squad in New York City until 1998, when the city created six additional units for a total of seven squads companies placed strategically throughout the city.
The mission of a squad in the FDNY encompasses four of the fire service disciplines: engine work, truck work, rescue operations and hazardous materials operations. They are a highly specialized units, training in many technical disciplines as well as basic bread and butter operations. They are required to maintain multiple technician level standards in many areas, as is standard with all units assigned to the Special Operations Command.
In this first part of the squad company, we will talk about the mission as an engine company, a truck company, and as a rescue company for a structure fires. We will go through positioning, tasks, and what's expected of the members assigned to the squad when responding as an engine, truck or a rescue.
As I wrote this, Squad 252 finished working at a first due box a little while ago. They pulled up on a two-story wood-frame, 25-by-60-foot dwelling, with fire showing out all windows on the first floor and two windows on the top floor. Instead of transmitting a 10-75 (working fire signal) for this, the officer on duty ordered a second alarm because he had fire on two floors on arrival. They stretched in with a 1 3/4-inch hoseline for mobility and were backed up by Engine 233 with another 1 3/4-inch hoseline. Engine 271 used a third line to protect the stairwell and Squad 252 advanced on the first floor while Engine 233 advanced on the second floor. After a good push the fire started darkening down on both floors and shortly the battle was over.
Engine Company Duties
The squad, like standard FDNY engines, has a 1,000 gpm pump with a 500-gallon water tank on board. They are responsible for a first due area and operate according to established procedures as an engine within those boundaries.
As an engine, the squad carries a sufficient amount of hose to combat any type of fire in its first due areas and is capable of supplying large caliber streams as necessary. We carry enough foam to start and maintain a continuous foam operation for about 15 minutes, by then help should have arrived to supplement our supply.