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Training Day: Advancing the fire hose line with thermal imaging cameras

Evaluate team integrity, communication and progress while advancing the hose line to complete a primary search

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Evaluate team integrity, communication and progress while advancing the hose line to complete a primary search.

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The purpose of this drill is to practice advancing an initial attack hose line into a structure for fire suppression, while simultaneously conducting a primary search using a hands-free thermal imagining camera (TIC).

Props and tools needed to practice advancing the hose line

For this drill, you’ll need an acquired structure or a fixed facility you can flow water into. The building will need to have access to a few rooms (e.g., bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom as well as a hallway) as well as used furniture you can place inside the structure.

For the hose line drill, you’ll need:

Staging the firefighter training exercise

Prepare the structure by placing the used furniture inside the building and staging the different rooms. This will help with bridging the gap between training and reality.

With the rooms staged, place the rescue manikins in common areas where occupants are usually found within a residential structure fire. These areas will be hallways, windows, doors, on a bed, in a bath tub or at the fire location.

Use the smoke machine to add limited visibility within the structure to heighten the realism of the drill. Ensure that the window openings are closed to contain the artificial smoke.

Start the drill at the fire truck with a team of either two or three firefighters disembarking from the inside the truck. This will replicate arriving on scene and jumping into action. The team will advance the hose line off the truck and to the front door of the structure.

The team will use their hands-free or mask-mounted TICs to assist with advancing the hose and performing the primary search at the same time. While the hose is being advanced inside, a team member can leave the hose line to search each room while the other team member stays on the nozzle to protect and suppress the fire.

If there is a third team member on the drill, they can assist with bringing in more hose and door control. This will reinforce the need to control flow paths by keeping the front door closed while the hose is being advanced.

Run the drill two or three times to allow for each member to take turns being in different positions. Terminate the drill when the team has completed a primary search and suppressed the fire.

Fire hose advancement skills evaluation

Evaluate the firefighters’ performance on the following aspects of the drill to assess their skills development:

  • Advancing the nozzle and coupling to the front door dry before charging – this will ensure 50 to 100 feet of hose at the door
  • Scanning the door for thermal signature with TICs as well as feeling for heat
  • Maintaining door control for flow path management
  • Good communication within the team while advancing the hose line inside to complete the primary search
  • Scanning each room with the hands-free thermal imaging camera to identify the location of occupants
  • Direct travel to located occupants indicating the use of the hands-free TIC
  • Removal of the located occupant to the nearest exit point
  • Maintaining team integrity at all times by either sight, sound or touch
  • Completing the search with one firefighter leaving the hose line while the other firefighter stays on the nozzle for protection

Mark van der Feyst has been in the fire service since 1998, currently serving as a firefighter with the Fort Gratiot Fire Department in Michigan. He is an international instructor teaching in Canada, the United States and India. He graduated from Seneca College of Applied and Technologies as a fire protection engineering technologist, and received his bachelor’s degree in fire and life safety studies from the Justice Institute of British Columbia and his master’s degree in safety, security and emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University. van der Feyst is the lead author of the book “Residential Fire Rescue” and “The Tactical Firefighter.” Connect with van der Feyst via email.