The second of the four elements in using riding assignments effectively is the tool assignments for each person depending on where they are sitting in the apparatus. If the first- and second-due ladder companies have to conduct tasks such as forcible entry, then members must have forcible-entry tools with them. If searching for victims and fire spread is required, a thermal imaging camera, a search rope and a 6-foot hook are a must.
Remember the acronym LOVERS-U (Laddering, Overhaul, Ventilation, forcible Entry, Rescue and search, Salvage and Utility control) to determine what your ladder companies are responsible for and equip the personnel accordingly. Remember to equip them with the most common tools needed for the mission and don’t weigh them down! As a rule, two to three tools or items per member is adequate.
Task Assignments for Each Firefighter
Division of labor is the concept where we seek to get the most from our limited resources and to eliminate redundancy. The third element of riding assignments is task assignments for each person depending on where they are sitting in the apparatus. These are examples of what could work for a department (they are certainly not set in stone, but offer a place to start). These samples are based on a four-person company. You have to do what works for you, though. If you average three members per engine or ladder company response, then your riding assignments should reflect that.
The First- and Second-Due Engine Companies
• The Engine Company Chauffeur - Tasked with safely getting the crew to the scene and positioning the engine properly. If first due, establish a sustained water supply and supply water to the appropriate hoselines or appliances. If second due, assist the first engine in establishing as sustained water supply.
• The Company Officer - Tasked with company safety and management. If the company is first due, this officer assumes the role of the Incident Commander (IC). If the company is second due, this officer is up front with the nozzle team for safety and direction.
• The Nozzle Firefighter - If first due, this firefighter is tasked with stretching the appropriate diameter line to the point of operation. If second due, this firefighter assists in stretching the first-due engine’s line and relieves the nozzle team when they run low on air so as to maintain the momentum of the attack.
• The Water Supply Firefighter - If first due, this firefighter is tasked with hooking up to a hydrant in situations where the engine makes a forward lay. After this task is completed, this firefighter joins the company and aids in stretching the line and acts as the backup firefighter. If second due, this firefighter assists in stretching the first-due engine’s line and relieves the nozzle team when they run low on air.
The First- and Second-Due Truck Companies
• The Ladder Company Chauffeur - If first due, the chauffeur ladders the building as needed then assists in making up the exterior team. Riding assignment dictates that in the event this member deploys into action other than on the turntable, that he or she carries a 6-foot hook or pike pole and a Halligan tool. If first due, this member is responsible for assisting in vertical ventilation. If second due, this member is tasked with Vent, Enter and Search (VES) tactics.
• The Company Officer - The officer is part of the two-person interior team responsible for forcible entry, search and rescue, and checking for the location and extent of the fire. If first due, the interior team ascends to the fire floor. If second due, the interior team ascends to the floor above. The officer carries a Halligan tool, flathead axe and thermal imaging camera.
• The Exterior Team Firefighter - Works in conjunction with the ladder chauffeur. Riding assignment dictates that he or she carries a 6-foot hook or pike pole and a flathead axe. If first due, this member is responsible for assisting in vertical ventilation. If second due, this member is tasked with VES tactics. For situations where a saw is required, such as a top-floor fire or where commercial occupancies are heavily secured, this member may carry a saw with an appropriate metal or wood-cutting blade as well.