Engine Company Operations

During my 32 years of doing battle with the ?Red Devil,? I have acquired a certain degree of respect for the enemy we fight. Many of the techniques and procedures that I have learn have been past down to me from one firefighter to another.


Upon arrival, the officer of the first- arriving engine company will have to make many decisions that will help determine the outcome of the fire. The officer must decide where to position the apparatus taking into consideration not to block out other responding units. It is imperative that the first-arriving engine officer to know the identification and the number of units that are responding in on the initial alarm.

Communications must be established with the first arriving companies. This will help coordinate engine and ladder tactics, such as preventing premature ventilation or advancing a hose line before ventilation has begun. Engine Companies must be positioned at a reliable water supply.

  • Hydrant
  • In-Line pumping operation
  • Re-lay pumping operation
  • Drafting operation
  • Portable water source

Once the engine is connected to a water source, the next decision that has to be made would be what would it take to extinguish this fire safely and effectively?

  • 1 3 / 4" line
  • 2 1 / 2" line
  • Large caliber appliance
  • 2 hose lines stretched simultaneous.
  • Quick knock down by fixed mounted deck pipe followed simultaneous by hose line stretch.
  • Possibility of supplying other pumpers, tower ladders, Quints, standpipes saimese and possibly sprinkler siamese.

The next decision in a progression of fire ground decisions would be:

  • What size hose line should be stretched that would be compatible with fire conditions?
  • What type of nozzle should be used straight bore tip verse fog tip?
  • Would the use of the booster line be appropriate?
  • Do we need to use foam to extinguish this fire?
  • Most importantly is this operation going to be an offensive or defensive operation?

Once the line is in position to start the attack, the nozzle man must:

  • Flake out and bleed the hose line before entering the fire area.
  • Entering the fire and encountering high heat the nozzle man will first direct his stream high in order to cool the superheated gases that have gathered at ceiling level.
  • Nozzle will be operated in a counterclockwise manner or side to side.
  • Whether crawling on his knees or "duck walking" the nozzle man must sweep the floor as they advance.
  • Before entering a room that is engulfed in fire, the nozzle man should position himself against the wall between the fire room and the hallway. With 2-3 feet of hose extending in front of him, the nozzle man will extend the nozzle into the room only exposing his wrist to the fire and extinguish as much fire as he can before entering the room using the wall as a barrier against the initial release of heat and flame. Once entering the fire room he will immediately move away from the door entrance, as this will be in the path of heat release. He will move to a position against a wall, giving him physical support to operate the line this especially important when manpower is limited. Once he is in position the stream should be operated "out front and overhead." The water should be deflected off the ceiling and upper walls followed by the stream being lowered to waist high. The nozzle man should sweep the room waist high. This will not only help vent any windows that might still remain in place but will also give the nozzle man a picture of how deep the room is and where the next opening will be to further his advance.

As the advance is being made, the officer in charge of the hose line must keep track of what is going on around him:

  • How long have the firefighters been operating?
  • What is the handie-talkie traffic like? Usually when there is no radio communication going on there is a problem and this tends to indicate that conditions are deteriorating to a point that firefighters are reluctant to use the radio due to self-survival. When things are going good everybody is using the radio when things are starting to go bad there is silence.
  • What's the condition of the units around you?
  • Has there been a change in the volume of fire? Unchanging fire conditions might signal a switching from an interior attack to an exterior attack.

In order to switch from an interior attack to an exterior attack there has to be complete accountability of all firefighters operating. This can be accomplished by employing any of the following:

  • The use of the apparatus horn or siren.
  • Handie-takie communication
  • Conducting a roll call of all units