‘As the first line goes …’: Video spotlights fast hoseline deployment

Oakland, Calif., crews swiftly attack second-floor apartment fire with efficient hoseline deployment


There’s an old but great saying in the fire service regarding hose advancement – “As the first line goes, so goes the fire.”

For the uninitiated, the saying refers to the first hoseline being pulled of the engine and the simple idea that the outcome of the fire depends on how that line is pulled. For instance, if the hoseline is pulled off the engine and advanced in a way that will allow the crew to be efficient and effective, advancing the line right away without any issues, then the fire will be put out quickly. By contrast, if the hoseline is not pulled and advanced in an effective and efficient manner, and prevents the crew from being able to advance in right away due to issues like kinking, twists in the line, being short, etc., then the fire will grow and present a much bigger problem for the responding departments.

We’ve covered this saying before: “Flaking out the line: Slow down to get it right the first time.” While that video focused on a problematic long stretch around a tree, this month’s video offers a solid example of how the first line being pulled off dictates the outcome of the crew’s efforts.

Even though it is an apartment fire on the second floor, the initial hoseline is pulled off, advanced, flaked out and readied for advancement into the unit once water is sent to the nozzle. Notice how the hose is flaked out in a fashion that will allow the hose to expand and fill with water as it is charged. As you can see, the crew is able to quickly advance the hose inside and begin suppression efforts.

Being able to accomplish this is only achievable by training, training and more training. It’s clear in from the video that this crew has trained repeatedly on this to perfect the process.

But let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute. What could have occurred if the hoseline was not pulled and advanced in an efficient and effective manner?

The first consequence is fire growth. The fire will have time to grow and spread within the structure or to other adjacent units or structures. And this means the battle will ultimately require additional hoselines to be pulled and more staffing to mitigate the incident. Second, crews will be delayed in rescuing or removing any occupants who may be inside, compromising life safety and reducing the likelihood of a successful outcome.  

We must do everything possible to deal with the hoseline outside, preventing issues related to kinks, twists, the dreaded “spaghetti pile,” a short pull that prevents crews from advancing even to the front door, or even a delay in water getting to the nozzle.

Pulling hose is a priority for every firefighter. It is essential that all members can pull off the load so that it can be advanced by one member right to the door in question, without having to travel back and forth. Again, the only way to accomplish this is to train this way all the time!

Training time

After watching this video and reading this article with your company, use the following notes to guide your training:

  • Pull the engine/quint out onto the front tarmac and practice pulling the hoseline by stretching it to the front door of the station.
  • Ensure that the line is readied for water by flaking it out – removing any kinks, twists, etc.
  • For advanced training, locate a building, such as a garden apartment or condo setting, and practice pulling/advancing hose to a door.

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