The Engine Officer And Standpipe Buildings

It is another cold and windy night at 2am when the tone alert sounds. There is a report of a fire on the 12th floor of a high rise senior housing project in your district.


The standpipe system should, also be augmented by another fire department pumper if additional lines are stretched. This can be done via the siamese or the first floor outlet. If supplying the first floor outlet, you must remember to keep the valve closed until the supply line is charged. Opening it sooner would steal water from the first attack line and possibly lead to serious injuries to those operating it. You should also bring in only fire department tested hose and all the associated tools needed to place that hose line into operation.

Once in the fire building you should make your way to the floor below the reported fire floor. If the reported fire is on the 7th floor or below it is recommended that you take the stairs. It is also a good practice to check intermediate floors on the way up, in case the fire is on a floor below the reported fire floor. Anything above the 7th floor you can take the elevator, in the firemen service mode, to a point 2 floors below the reported fire floor and walk the last flight. In the case of scissor stairs, 2 floors below will give you an accurate location of the fire apartment in relation to the door of the stairway. This is due to the way that scissor stairs are constructed.

When you reach the floor below the fire you must decide which stairway to connect and stretch your line from, and designate it the attack stairway. Remember to consider the distance from the stairway to the fire apartment when selecting the attack stairway. If the closest stairway to the fire apartment is not equipped with a standpipe. Consider connecting in the remote stairway then stretching the dry line across the floor below the fire. Once you reach the closer stairway you can stretch up to the fire floor and to the fire apartment. This is a good practice especially if the hall on the fire floor is charged with heat and smoke. In this situation we must remember that the attack stairway is the one we stretched up, not the one we hooked up in.

The decision of which stairway will be the attack stairway is based on a few factors. In the case of buildings with multiple stairways, the officer should consider the use of a return stair if possible. This will ensure that the fire apartment is the same distance from the stairway on the fire floor, as it is on the floor below.

In the case of scissor stairs, the distance may be different than that of the floor below. Advancing the line can be very confusing, especially in a heavy smoke conditions. Choosing the attack stairway is also based on the removal of the buildings occupants. Remember that the attack and the evacuation stairways must be different. Once the door to the attack stairway is opened, the area above will become smoke filled and unusable for evacuation. When it verified which stairway is the attack and which is the evacuation you must transmit this information to all units operating on scene.

The engine officer must now have his company hook-up to the standpipe outlet and make all the hose connections. The connections should all be done on the floor below the fire. This will ensure a clean environment to work in and also it keeps the unit together as a team. The practice of making some of the connections on the stairway landing on the fire floor is a dangerous one for a couple of reasons.

It will block or obstruct the ladder companies exit, to and from the fire floor. This is extremely dangerous in the case of a wind blown fire or a rapidly advancing fire when the door to the fire apartment is open. Also if the hose unexpectedly chocks the to the stairway open while the ladder company is exiting, conditions in the stairway will deteriorate rapidly. This will cause the stairway to become untenable, which could lead to the loss of hose along with the nozzle.

When all the connections are made the line is ready to be stretched up to the fire floor. Now comes the biggest decision of the operation for the engine officer, where to charge the line. Do you charge it at the door to the public hall or at the door to the fire apartment? The rule is fairly easy, if the ladder company has control of the door to the fire apartment, then the line can be stretched to that position. Once the line reaches the door it can be flaked out and charged.