You are the officer for the day tour of a newly organized squad company with yourself and a crew of three additional firefighters. As a squad, the company has first alarm assignments, either running as the first, second or third due engine and ?special unit? assignments where the company is assigned to working fires in several adjoining districts. While returning from securing the meal for the day tour, you are dispatched as a ?special unit? to the report of building fire. This means that the company is not responding as one of the first three assigned engines, but rather as a manpower squad.
As you respond you monitor the radio for the report of the first to arrive company. The first due engine calls off at the scene with heavy smoke showing from all floors of a 2?-story frame house. The crew continues to gear up as you come closer to the scene, following a rapidly rising cloud of gray smoke.
Most successful company operations are the result of teamwork. This is especially true on the fire ground. The Departments that tend to do the best on the fire ground are those that have some type of SOP. An SOP makes it possible for everyone to have an idea of what to expect on the fire ground. SOP?s are usually broken down by type of company and sequence of arrival.
The first due engine company is usually responsible for fire attack, the first due truck forcible entry and search and rescue. The second due enginemost times is responsible for two tasks; providing the first due engine an established water supply; stretch a second hand line to back up the first.
Companies that arrive after the initial ones must be able to determine where in the operation the other companies are and what must now be done. Tasks that may fall on companies responding after the initial two and one are laddering, ventilation, additional water supply or hand lines, or support of any other operations. Squad companies, with the ability to do both engine or ladder duties, must assure that a proper size-up of all activities as well as contact with the IC be accomplished as they arrive on the fire ground.
Engine Company Assignments
In addition to having standardized SOP?s, departments should also consider riding position based tool assignments for their companies. These assignments tell F/F?s what tools to carry and what their assignment will be once they have arrived on the fire ground. For the engine company, the assignments should be focused on the water supply, getting that first hand line into operation.
For a company staffed with an officer and three additional firefighters there are several options. One of the first considerations (based on department SOP?s) is whether or not the engine should bring their own supply line to the fire. Many departments require that the engine stop, wrap a hydrant and drop a supply line into the fire. In some cases, a member of that company is left to make the connection and turn on the hydrant when the chauffeur signals that he is ready.
Another option is to just wrap and leave the supply line and have the second company make the connection and supply the first engine. The firefighter stretches to the hydrant, secures the supply line and than re-boards the apparatus and proceeds to the fire building. For either of these methods, one firefighter?s riding assignment would be the ?hydrant firefighter?. Many departments will have this firefighter ride in the jump seat behind the officer. This gives the firefighter a better view of hydrants as they approach and also puts them on the curbside of the apparatus.
Another option for water supply is for the engine to advance to the front of the building and operate off booster tank water. Departments that use this ?quick water? attack usually do so based on the rapid response of additional engine companies. By using tank water, the theory is to attack the fire while it is still manageable while a water supply is brought to you. If this is one of your department?s options, all members should know just how long tank water lasts. This should be done flowing one 1??, two 1?? hand lines, a 2?? hand line and any master stream devices that you may carry. A 500-gallon booster tank will last just under three minutes if you are flowing 175 GPM through your 1?? hand line.