Thread: Backup lines

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    Default Backup lines

    We recently had a disagreement at our last fire critique regarding what size line should be pulled as a backup line for our normal bread and butter house fires and what that line's responsibilities are. It was brought up that we need to always pull our bigger 2 in line and that the backup line's sole responsibility is protecting the means of egress for the attack team.
    I was taught that your backup line should be as big or bigger than your attack line. I believe that in our typical one and two story residential structures that our 1 3/4 lines offer more than adequate water volume and maneuverability to handle most fire situations.The 2 in line is overkill and drastically reduces maneuverability with our two man hose teams. If two 1 3/4 lines can't handle a fire in these structures then we have no business being in there, and need to go defensive.
    In regards to responsibility, it was stated that the backup lines sole responsibility is to protect the means of egress for the attack team. I dont disagree that this is the main responsibility, but we are also there to supplement the attack line if needed. If a second line is needed, then the backup line becomes the second line and another backup line is put in its place.
    I understand that the fireground is dynamic and that the structure and fire conditions will dictate our actions. What I am looking for is a general consensus on procedures for the typical bread and butter fires in 1 and 2 family dwellings. What engine the line should come off of and its length were also discussed, but I will spare you the details.

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    All sounds good. If possible have the backup line come from a second engine. Thought there is that if the primary pump fails the interior team can still be protected by the backup line as they egress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lorainfire View Post
    We recently had a disagreement at our last fire critique regarding what size line should be pulled as a backup line for our normal bread and butter house fires and what that line's responsibilities are. It was brought up that we need to always pull our bigger 2 in line and that the backup line's sole responsibility is protecting the means of egress for the attack team.
    I was taught that your backup line should be as big or bigger than your attack line. I believe that in our typical one and two story residential structures that our 1 3/4 lines offer more than adequate water volume and maneuverability to handle most fire situations.The 2 in line is overkill and drastically reduces maneuverability with our two man hose teams. If two 1 3/4 lines can't handle a fire in these structures then we have no business being in there, and need to go defensive.
    In regards to responsibility, it was stated that the backup lines sole responsibility is to protect the means of egress for the attack team. I dont disagree that this is the main responsibility, but we are also there to supplement the attack line if needed. If a second line is needed, then the backup line becomes the second line and another backup line is put in its place.
    I understand that the fireground is dynamic and that the structure and fire conditions will dictate our actions. What I am looking for is a general consensus on procedures for the typical bread and butter fires in 1 and 2 family dwellings. What engine the line should come off of and its length were also discussed, but I will spare you the details.
    It really does depend on your department and the situation at hand. Their are so many tactics that could be used. But generically speaking I agree with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lorainfire View Post
    We recently had a disagreement at our last fire critique regarding what size line should be pulled as a backup line for our normal bread and butter house fires and what that line's responsibilities are. It was brought up that we need to always pull our bigger 2 in line and that the backup line's sole responsibility is protecting the means of egress for the attack team.
    I was taught that your backup line should be as big or bigger than your attack line. I believe that in our typical one and two story residential structures that our 1 3/4 lines offer more than adequate water volume and maneuverability to handle most fire situations.The 2 in line is overkill and drastically reduces maneuverability with our two man hose teams. If two 1 3/4 lines can't handle a fire in these structures then we have no business being in there, and need to go defensive.
    In regards to responsibility, it was stated that the backup lines sole responsibility is to protect the means of egress for the attack team. I dont disagree that this is the main responsibility, but we are also there to supplement the attack line if needed. If a second line is needed, then the backup line becomes the second line and another backup line is put in its place.
    I understand that the fireground is dynamic and that the structure and fire conditions will dictate our actions. What I am looking for is a general consensus on procedures for the typical bread and butter fires in 1 and 2 family dwellings. What engine the line should come off of and its length were also discussed, but I will spare you the details.
    In general I agree with you. We generally use a 2nd 1 3/4" as the backup. Not sure there is really a problem pulling a 2" either though.

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    I agree completely with your method. The only thing is I would always want the backup line to be bigger. If the first line in is a 1.75, then the backup will be a 2.5. Yea it will probably be overkill, but thats why it is a backup. If the first line needs backup, I want big guns.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng34FF View Post
    In general I agree with you. We generally use a 2nd 1 3/4" as the backup. Not sure there is really a problem pulling a 2" either though.
    Your right, there's not a terrible difference in pulling 1.75" and 2", at least in my opinion.

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    We pull a 2nd 1 3/4 and we do that principally because its more controllable. We have manpower issues so we usually have only 4-5 guys onscene when the first crew goes in. A 2nd crew can easily handle/manuever a 1 3/4. I am not sure that is the case for the 2 1/2. We also run CAFS if that matters to anyone. (I've been taught to assume it breaks and is plain water for planning even though all of our engines are CAFS)

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    Quote Originally Posted by lorainfire View Post
    I was taught that your backup line should be as big or bigger than your attack line. I believe that in our typical one and two story residential structures that our 1 3/4 lines offer more than adequate water volume and maneuverability to handle most fire situations.The 2 in line is overkill and drastically reduces maneuverability with our two man hose teams. If two 1 3/4 lines can't handle a fire in these structures then we have no business being in there, and need to go defensive.
    I agree. Our next size is a 2 1/2. They are a blast in a SFD.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Depends...on alot.

    Typical rule was always equal to or greater in flow and length. Diameter is irrelevant, flow is the issue.

    The second line could be going several places. If its a first floor fire, maybe to attack the fire, if the first line had to stop to hold the stairs. If its a basement fire, it may be attacking from an exterior rear entrance, requiring more hose to make the stretch. If its a second floor fire, it may need to go to the adjacent rooms while ceiling is pulled to get fire in the attic. Sometimes the "Backup line" is the line that attacks the fire. It should be understood that a line is always needed to protect egress/stairways when fire threatens them. Our world cannot be written in black and white, it has to be shades of gray.

    Lots of possibilities. Theres really no need for a 2 1/2" hose in most cases in a single family dwelling on the inside, in my opinion. I have seen most fires in my years handled with a pair of 1 3/4" hoselines when operating interior.

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    do you mean 2" or 2 1/2"? I don't think the 2" is that big of a difference than the 1 3/4 in terms of maneuverability in a 1 or 2 family home. The little bit of extra gpm is nice to have in a back up line too. If its a 2 1/2 then I can see why you'd rather grab the 1 3/4.

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    I do mean a true 2" line not a 2 1/2, we dont have 2 1/2" preconnects on our engines. My concern is manpower, I understand that a 2" isn't THAT big of a difference, but when you only have two guys on a line and your potentually weaving through an often cluttered single family dwelling, I want the line thats a little easier to manuever and still has plenty of punch for the typical fire load I will find in that type of structure.

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    I think that in a one or two family dwelling, a 1 3/4" back up line is sufficient. I agree that if a 1 3/4" can't handle the "bread and butter" one and two family residential fires, then we should rethink our strategy. I'm also a true believer in having the backup line come off the second due engine, if manpower is sufficient, just in case there is pump failure. I think that as long as we're flowing a 1 3/4" at the correct GPM's right off the bat, and not using the "thumbs up" or " thumbs down" method to control our pump pressure, it's plenty for backup. I know alot of departments in my area are not flowing lines even close the correct GPM's they're intended for.

    I don't see anything wrong with the back up team supplementing the attack team. I think they can still protect egress by going in the same route as the first line, not passing fire, and periodically making inspection holes in the ceiling to make sure there isn't any fire blowing over the crew. Like you stated, the firegroud is dynamic, so I think this is a great discussion for departments, especially ones with a smaller initial response. I've been to many fires where a second line has never been pulled, and should have. Better to discuss the options now, then waiting to decide on it at a working fire.

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    I've been reading "The Engine Company" by FDNY Battalion Chief Salka and its a good book for referencing engine company operations. A 2.5 line is to large for an interior attack at a typical 2.5 story residential home(some houses are the size of a commercial building). An 1.75 flows enough water to knock down alot of fire. My companies normal back up line for a residential fire is another 1.75 line. The back up line at any time can become another line of defense. Fire spreads and that back up line could be going somewhere else in the house at anytime to knock down more fire and an 1.75 line can be easily moved around instead of trying to lug around a 2.5 line. Just my .02.

    I do understand your Idea of pulling the second line off the second due pumper. Its a good but idea but my second due is a truck company and they are taking the front of the house most of the time and the second due engine is grabbing the hydrant and laying in and can be far enough away from the scene to make it impossible to stretch a line.

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    I agree with alot of what everyone is saying. Our first hose is a 1.75, it attacks the fire. The second one is another 1.75, it is charged and ready at the door. If the need arises it can be deployed into the structure and another 1.75 will be pulled to stand-by at the door.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610 View Post
    Depends...on alot.

    Typical rule was always equal to or greater in flow and length. Diameter is irrelevant, flow is the issue.

    The second line could be going several places. If its a first floor fire, maybe to attack the fire, if the first line had to stop to hold the stairs. If its a basement fire, it may be attacking from an exterior rear entrance, requiring more hose to make the stretch. If its a second floor fire, it may need to go to the adjacent rooms while ceiling is pulled to get fire in the attic. Sometimes the "Backup line" is the line that attacks the fire. It should be understood that a line is always needed to protect egress/stairways when fire threatens them. Our world cannot be written in black and white, it has to be shades of gray.

    Lots of possibilities. Theres really no need for a 2 1/2" hose in most cases in a single family dwelling on the inside, in my opinion. I have seen most fires in my years handled with a pair of 1 3/4" hoselines when operating interior.
    Remember the old saying "As the first line goes, so goes the fire". If your first line isn't putting the fire out it's because you aren't flowing enough, therefore, you're backup may become the primary line and it needs to be larger in terms of flow. Most residential fires don't need anything larger than an 1 3/4" but you should be planning for the worst case scenario and having the 2 1/2" as your back-up gives the you some options that a smaller line won't.

    The 1/ 3/4' on my engine flows approximately 200gpm through a 1" tip, if that is not significantly changing conditions within a matter of seconds, another line of the same size/flow is not going to change that. A 2 1/2" line may be harder to move, but it can be done quite easily with two people, with a little training and effort. In addition, the additional reach of the 2 1/2" stream may become necessary as fire conditions worsen and your initial crew is forced to retreat.

    Your tactics should allow you the flexibility to flow enough water to overwhelm the fire and standard inputs should yield standard results. If you're not getting the results you should your tactics need to change.

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    "quite easily" is not a term i would use to describe pulling a 2.5 through any SFD in zero visibilty with 2, 3 or even four guys unless of course the fire is straight in on the first floor. Most training is often done with full visibility, low stress, and none of the extreme clutter we find in most of our SFD.
    In regards to the statement that if the first line can't put out the fire, then another line of the same size wouldn't change that, is rediculous. Its stated as if you would shut the first line down and use the backup. No, you would now have two 1.75 lines working the fire and thats a whole lot of water. If the fire isnt going out in a SFD with one or especially two 1.75, then you're not hitting the seat of the fire. The biggest line you have isn't going to put it out if you can't hit the seat of the fire. If you are hitting it with two 1.75 and its not going out, then you need to get the hell out of there.
    As far as reach goes, I don't know of any SFD that the stream on my 1.75 can't reach. Maybe a huge manson, but we dont have any of those around here.

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    Are you guys discussing a backup line, or a second attack line? In my area, that's 2 distinct lines and operations.

    Backup line is normally not for attacking the fire, unless there is a problem with the primary and/or second line.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by youngb420 View Post
    A 2 1/2" line may be harder to move, but it can be done quite easily with two people, with a little training and effort. In addition, the additional reach of the 2 1/2" stream may become necessary as fire conditions worsen and your initial crew is forced to retreat.
    I completely disagree.

    That 2 1/2 if charged to get the GPM you want (to exceed the flow of the 1 3/4) will not be able to make a lot of the bends in a good percentage of SFD's. Sure in a giant house it might be worth it, but for most, no way. My experience is with fog/automatic nozzles.

    Our immediate mutual aid insists on pulling a 2 1/2 for garden apartment fires and getting it up the stairwell and making the 90 degree bend into the apartment and then another 90 degree bend immediately inside the door to the living room is all but impossible.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Are you guys discussing a backup line, or a second attack line? In my area, that's 2 distinct lines and operations.

    Backup line is normally not for attacking the fire, unless there is a problem with the primary and/or second line.
    I do think some are confusing the two. Backup line is sort of like a RIT hose, for use to save our own if the attack line fails.

    A second line would be the second attack line.

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    Default 2 1/2" back-up

    What I was attempting to say is fairly simple:

    If the back-up line is placed in service, it's because something went wrong, Your standard input is not giving you standard results, time to change tactics! A line of the same diameter and flow as the initial line, which hasn't done its job, doesn't do anything to make the problem better or help your crew that is now taking a beating and most likely retreating.

    I've done some training on the 2 1/2" and it's not as bad as some make out to be, I can move it, and fairly quickly, with two people, and three make it move almost as fast as an 1 3/4", it's all in the technique.

    As to the flow of two 1 3/4" being better than one 2 1/2", the stream of the 2 1/2" is always going to have more reach and mass than an 1 3/4". Adding another 1 3/4" isn't going to get water on the seat of the fire any better than the first and instead of using two or three personnel on one line (2 1/2"), now you're using 4 or more FF's on two lines.

    PDP for 200' 1 3/4"=50PSI NP+100PSI FL=150PSI and that will give me 210 GPM
    PDP for 200' 2 1/2"=50PSI NP+64PSI FL=114PSI and that will give me 325 GPM

    Before anyone says the pressures are too low, these were obtained by flowing my FD's hose at varying pressures to obtain the FL coefficients.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Are you guys discussing a backup line, or a second attack line? In my area, that's 2 distinct lines and operations.

    Backup line is normally not for attacking the fire, unless there is a problem with the primary and/or second line.
    We use the back up line to protect the means of egress and to be in a position get any fire which may have gotten behind the first line.

    Now if we need a second line because of heavy fire or to attack fire found in another area, most of the time the back up line is in a position to quickly get there. So its much easier and quicker to put the back up line into operation and stretch a 3rd line to take its place.

    At least thats what I'm thinking/talking about during this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by youngb420 View Post
    If the back-up line is placed in service, it's because something went wrong, Your standard input is not giving you standard results, time to change tactics! A line of the same diameter and flow as the initial line, which hasn't done its job, doesn't do anything to make the problem better or help your crew that is now taking a beating and most likely retreating.
    How can you say that doubling your flow won't help? Of course it would

    I've done some training on the 2 1/2" and it's not as bad as some make out to be, I can move it, and fairly quickly, with two people, and three make it move almost as fast as an 1 3/4", it's all in the technique.
    I've had real life experience and a completely different result.

    As to the flow of two 1 3/4" being better than one 2 1/2", the stream of the 2 1/2" is always going to have more reach and mass than an 1 3/4". Adding another 1 3/4" isn't going to get water on the seat of the fire any better than the first and instead of using two or three personnel on one line (2 1/2"), now you're using 4 or more FF's on two lines.
    How far do you need to reach in a single family dwelling? Again, if you have 1 1 3/4, and you add a second, how can you say it isn't going to get water on the seat of the fire any better?

    PDP for 200' 1 3/4"=50PSI NP+100PSI FL=150PSI and that will give me 210 GPM
    PDP for 200' 2 1/2"=50PSI NP+64PSI FL=114PSI and that will give me 325 GPM

    Before anyone says the pressures are too low, these were obtained by flowing my FD's hose at varying pressures to obtain the FL coefficients.
    I'm confused. You mentioned using 3 people on 1 2 1/2. That means you will flow (using your numbers) 325 gpm.

    However, by using 4 people and two 1 3/4 you get a flow of 420 gpm.

    Seems that two lines is better then 1, if it's all about flow.

    I will never advocate for a 2 1/2 for most single family dwellings. In my experience, it's not needed.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Are you guys discussing a backup line, or a second attack line? In my area, that's 2 distinct lines and operations.

    Backup line is normally not for attacking the fire, unless there is a problem with the primary and/or second line.
    Your absolutly correct with the back up line. If there becomes an issue of more fire in a certain area....be it another room, second floor or else where that back up line may then become a second attack line and then your tactics will be changing


    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    I completely disagree.

    That 2 1/2 if charged to get the GPM you want (to exceed the flow of the 1 3/4) will not be able to make a lot of the bends in a good percentage of SFD's. Sure in a giant house it might be worth it, but for most, no way. My experience is with fog/automatic nozzles.

    Our immediate mutual aid insists on pulling a 2 1/2 for garden apartment fires and getting it up the stairwell and making the 90 degree bend into the apartment and then another 90 degree bend immediately inside the door to the living room is all but impossible.
    I agree chief. My department uses a 2.5 inch on a main attack line for commercial and high rise fires and possibly large mansion fires. Our apartment packs are 100feet of 2.5 w/ a smooth bore nozze and same with the 250 feet of preconnect off the rear of our trucks. We are using smooth bore to reduce the pressure and the tip and also help reach the fire. An 1.75 hose can put out alot of fire and I think most of us have watched it do that and had personal experience.
    Stay safe!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    You mentioned using 3 people on 1 2 1/2. That means you will flow (using your numbers) 325 gpm.

    However, by using 4 people and two 1 3/4 you get a flow of 420 gpm.

    Seems that two lines is better then 1, if it's all about flow.

    I will never advocate for a 2 1/2 for most single family dwellings. In my experience, it's not needed.
    While I agree on the 2.5" use in SFD's, in most cases I do not believe two small lines are equal to or greater than a single 2.5". The reason is the amount of the stream exposed to heat and evaporation. If the fire requires 300 gpm to extinguish, two lines flowing 175 may not do it. Two orifices means far more break apart and conversion to steam diminishing the actual streams to less overall water on the target. Inside a fairly enclosed space (most PD's) this will not be noticed, but in large commercial buildings, large uncompartmented spaces (McMansion great rooms) or in defensive operations he two lines will not be as effective. It's a penetration thing.

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    I am not advocating the use of one hoseline over the other in residential operations, I'm simply stating that your back-up should have a higher flow and deeper penetration than your initial line. Will it be needed? probably not, but I'd rather be ahead of the curve than behind it when something goes south.

    One of the points I am attempting to make is that if an 1.75, which will knock most residential fires out within seconds, isn't working, something out of the ordinary is happening and your hose team might be in the middle of deteriorating conditions needing some assistance.

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