The 4 Phases Of the Stretch: Phase 3

So far in this series, we have discussed how to properly prepare ourselves through training and pre-planning. We reviewed how to perform a thorough and accurate size-up and a stretch estimate to ensure an efficient stretch. This article focuses on the...


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While responding to a fire, the OIC and driver should work together to determine the best response route to ensure the engine can secure an effective operating position on the fireground to establish a water source, enhance the stretch operation and allow the truck company a good position close to structure. On arrival, the OIC will conduct a size-up to determine the appropriate strategy and tactics as well as the fire’s location within the structure. Once the size-up is complete, the officer takes command of the stretch operation by ordering the appropriate-size attack line stretched to the appropriate location and position.

• Driver/operator – Once the driver/operator has safely transported the engine and its crew to the scene and secured an effective operating position, he or she will serve a dual role. The first role is to secure a constant water supply for the engine, but the driver/operator also plays an important role when making long stretches (over 200 feet). During long stretches, the backup firefighter will follow the nozzle firefighter to assist with the deployment of the travel hose so the driver/operator must control hose deployment at the engine and ensures the attack line is connected to the appropriate discharge at the completion of the stretch.

• Nozzle firefighter – As soon as the engine arrives on scene, the nozzle firefighter should begin the on-scene size-up and stretch estimate. For this scenario, we are operating at a 2½-story, balloon-constructed, wood-frame dwelling. The stretch estimate reveals that one section, 50 feet of hose, is sufficient to reach a fire on the first floor from the attack entrance at the front of the dwelling (working length) and two sections, 100 feet of hose, will be sufficient to reach the attack entrance from the engine (travel length).

But being familiar with the structures on this street, the nozzle firefighter knows that an additional section of hose, 100 feet of working length, will be needed to reach a fire in the basement or on the second floor. Based on the stretch estimate, the engine’s position and the officer’s orders to stretch a 1¾-inch attack line to the front door for a fire on the second floor, the nozzle firefighter chose to stretch a 200-foot pre-connected crosslay off the driver’s side of the engine (Photo 1). Stretching from this location on the engine will allow for an efficient stretch since it is a straight shot from the engine to the attack entrance (Photo 2).

If we change the engine’s operating position and the location of the fire within the same structure, we see how this information will affect the nozzle firefighter’s decision on which line is the most efficient to stretch. Based on the stretch estimate the engine’s position and the officer’s orders to stretch a 1¾-inch attack line to the rear entrance for a fire on the first floor, the nozzle firefighter chose to stretch a static line off the rear step (Photo 3.) Knowing the crew would not need all of the hose in the pre-connected attack line, based on the stretch estimate, the nozzle firefighter chose to stretch a static line to allow the flexibility of stretching only the hose needed to avoid overstretching. Stretching off the rear of the engine allowed for the most efficient stretch, since it is the most direct route from the engine to the attack entrance (Photo 4).

The nozzle firefighter starts the stretch by removing the necessary working length and heading for the attack entrance (Photo 5). The nozzle firefighter must remember not to deploy the hose in the working length to reach the attack entrance or the line will be stretched short of the fire (Photo 6). Once the nozzle firefighter arrives at the attack entrance, he then deploys the hose in the working length and stages it in line with the attack entrance for a smooth advance. He places the coupling of the first length close to the door to guarantees 50 feet of working length from the attack entrance. He then places the next coupling as close to the attack entrance as possible for a total of 100 feet of hose to reach the fire on the second floor (Photo 7).

• Backup firefighter – The backup firefighter should also be conducting a size-up and a stretch estimate on arrival. Performing the stretch is done as a team and your partner and you should be communicating and working together. The backup firefighter’s duties and responsibilities are always the same, but how you get the job done will be affected by the engine’s position, the length of the stretch and the type of line deployed. If your stretch estimate reveals that your pre-connected line is the best option, make sure all hose is deployed from the hosebed. When stretching a static line, deploy only the necessary amount of travel hose needed based on your stretch estimate. Also make sure the attack line is hooked to a discharge and advise the driver of the total length of your stretch (Photo 8).