First off, the response to the "Do You Lay In" blog was outstanding. Over 30 comments, from a diverse group of people and response areas with completely different answers are exactly what I was hoping for. So let's spend a few more moments on this discussion.
The "workhorse" of the fire service, in my opinion, is the engine crew. Not all rural or even urban departments have access to a truck company on every structure fire, while most all have an engine. The primary responsibility of the engine is putting the wet stuff on the red stuff; I get that, as do most of you. So why so many differences of opinions and why is there not a solid way of making this decision? I believe it is because every fire department is different, as is every structure fire.
Establishing your water supply is affected by too many variables to have a set rule for every fire. I believe that's why the folks riding in the front seat have more responsibility than us backwards riders.
Why is the decision made on a case by case basis? Let's look at some more variables about catching your own hydrant:
- With 5-inch hose, some the axels on someladder company apparatus can't clear the couplings if it is laid in the path to the front of the building
- Staffing levels dictate catching the hydrant or not, no doubt.
- Why didn't anyone have a recommendation of a reverse lay from scene to the hydrant?
- Do we really need a PHD in the fire service to determine the need to lay out?
Without singling out any readers responses, these are some more variables we need to address before making our decisions. A needs assessment may not be agreed upon by all, but is a constant. I know a lot of East Coast fire departments lay-in or out no matter what. This is a great practice and I would encourage everyone to try this. I would also ask if these aggressive fire departments use 5-inch hose that blocks out the truck or do they wait until the truck arrives? Giving the truck the address has been hammered home in my career, but does laying out your hose block them out?
One great response to this question was that the first-due engine establishes their own, and then the second-due goes to the rear and establishes their own. Wow, now were talking! We have all sides covered in case of a water supply failure. This is a great strategy unless you have a response area like mine where most C-sides of the homes are on the side of a cliff - the West Virginia Mountains can complicate this strategy for sure.
There is no doubt to this backwards-riding boy that there is no "set in stone" answer to this discussion. The answer should be based on your department's geography, training, staffing, and dispatch reports. One thing that is for sure is no matter what you choose, communication is key. After speaking with my captain, at length, on this topic his reply was "if I'm laying out I communicate it, if not I say nothing and my second due knows to lay in." This works in our department because it is communicated before the bell rings.
Thanks for the great feedback on Views From the Jumpseat. Please keep them coming below this blog and look forward to more stirring discussions with future blog entries.
Bunker up, buckle up, and always ride in the jumpseat first! Stay Safe!