Good afternoon from the jumpseat. How many of your response districts have tight streets or alleys? Recently my crew and I were faced with extreme case of the tight squeeze. We responded to a reported structure fire that was extinguished on arrival. We found ourselves faced with a very narrow street, lined with cars, on an incline. This narrow working condition made it difficult to pull an attack line, retrieve tools, and just about impossible to maneuver a 14-foot roof ladder. So how do you handle this situation; team work?
The fire service has always been driven by teamwork, but in these situations even the simplest tasks become complex. Teamwork is the key to a successful operation. Using the entire crew to deploy the initial attack line can make it successful. Most of the time in these conditions, you will have to drag the uncharged sections of hose up the street. This can cause a problem for the attack team as the hose may get caught on vehicle tires. Once again, this is where teamwork comes into play as the backup person or engineer has added responsibility.
Throwing ladders in these cases can become the biggest challenge of all. Even a 14 footer needs additional hands to get it over the obstructions. Sometimes it could take more than three firefighters to get it into position. Going over the cars can prove to be the best practice, if possible. When the cars are too large to go over you may have to walk the ladder down the block and around.
Have you been squeezed lately? Working in limited space on the outside of a structure can put your crew in a tight situation. The best way to make this a safer environment is to train, train, and train in these conditions, so that when you are faced with a squeeze you are ready to handle it.
Thanks for the visit to the jumpseat everyone!