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From the Fireground
by Jason Hoevelmann

Get the most from your door crew

The person or team at the door plays a critical role in advancing the hose and ensuring unimpeded egress

By Jason Hoevelmann

As we discussed last month, advancing the attack line is paramount if we want to be successful. The faster we can get the water on the fire, the faster conditions will improve and the faster fire's attack on the building will cease.

Although a two-person attack team can make a good knock on the fire, it can be cumbersome and time consuming when seconds count. We will discuss two person attacks in a future article.

Let me share a quick story about a drill we did regarding line placement and advancement for basement fires. This gives an excellent picture of the importance of the door man when advancing the line, and not just for basement fires.

Training scenario
The drill involved a confirmed basement fire and had the company officer assign his crew, a three-person engine and a two-person ambulance, to make the fire. In a typical fire the driver/operator will run the pump. The officer and his firefighter will be the nozzle team and the ambulance crew is assigned as conditions dictate per the officer.

It is often the case that everyone wants some nozzle time. Discipline and training need to dictate that we have a nozzle team and a team or person manipulating the line.

At one point during the drill, there were four people at the nozzle and nobody at the door or along the line to move it. The result was that the line stopped moving and the advance on the fire was slowed.

Once crews were moved along the line and at the door, the line moved smoothly and quickly to the fire and it took the nozzle team less energy and air to advance the line. It was a good lesson that proved itself during the evolution. 

Advancing the line
The importance of having a person or team at the door is crucial. I am not going to discuss assignments specifically in this article, but someone has to be at the door. That line needs help getting advanced to the fire and one of the best ways to do that is to have a door man or team manipulating that line.

One mistake that is made, however, is that the assigned door man thinks he has to be at the door and becomes a welcome mat. This is false. He may need to get to the first corner or farther inside the structure to help manipulate that line. When doing he should keep the front door in view, but that is not always possible.

The person or team at the door also functions as another set of eyes. He can monitor conditions that could be changing behind the attack team. Having those additional eyes on the conditions could prevent the attack teams egress from being jeopardized.

If there is a back-up team or second line put at the front door to support the first line, they can serve as the door man for the first line. It is imperative that we use our available resources to our advantage.

If both team members are needed inside to move the line up or down stairs and around corners, they can take positions on the first line with the second line coming with them and left within reach. This provides some protection for the egress of the first line while at the same time assisting in moving that attack line as quickly as possible.

Remember, it's about getting water on the fire fast.

Clear path
In addition, if the attack team doesn't do it, the door man or team must secure the entry doors. Make sure to chock or tie off doors that will impede advancing the attack line.

Use common sense; don't fight a screen door, rip it off if you have to. Just ensure that the entry team has a clear path out and that the line doesn't get hung up or kinked on closing doors.

Every fire department has its own guidelines and procedures for fire attack. They should be based on getting the hose team to the fire as quickly as possible.

That means putting people in positions that will create success. Know why and where you are going to use your resources and train that way. 

These are just tips and practices that have worked. Each fire is different but, getting water on the fire has to happen. And that means that moving the attack line as quickly as possible must be a priority on the fire scene and in training.

Remember to follow your department's guidelines and train on them. Train hard and share some knowledge, and I'll see you next month from the fireground.

About the author

Jason Hoevelmann is a deputy chief and fire marshal with the Sullivan (Mo.) Fire Protection District, a combination department, and a career captain and training officer with the Florissant Valley (Mo.) Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County. His experience spans more than 20 years and he has been an instructor for more than 15 years. He is an adjunct instructor for the St. Louis County Fire Academy and is a State Certified Fire Officer II. Jason holds an associate’s degree in paramedic science from East Central College and a bachelor's degree in fire service administration from Eastern Oregon University. He is currently a state advocate for the Everyone Goes Home initiative, a Board Member for the International Society of Fire Service Instructors and on the technical committee for Professional Fire Officer Qualifications for NFPA. He is also co-owner of Engine House Training, LLC.

Chief Hoevelmann can be contacted via e-mail at Jason.Hoevelmann@firerescue1.com.



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