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‘We need more hose!’: How to avoid a common fireground alert

Video shows how even a minor hose issue can delay operations

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The fire service seems too often to be short on hose to advance – and it’s certainly one way to decrease the operational efficiency and effectiveness of firefighters on scene.


“Hey, we need more hose!”

Does this sound familiar? It’s the common call on the fireground for crewmembers to assist with bringing more hose up so that the initial crew can advance on the fire. The fire service seems too often to be short on hose to advance – and it’s certainly one way to decrease the operational efficiency and effectiveness of firefighters on scene.

In our corresponding video, we see an example of this phenomenon. Even though it does not push to a bad outcome for the entire situation, it is still one of the operational challenges here, and we can learn from this for the future fires.

The crew responding to this garage fire is doing excellent work with getting water on the fire, advancing hose into the structure, and taking care of the situation very quickly.

The yellow handline being used to apply water on the car and garage fire has been stretched from the engine up the driveway to seat of the fire.

When it comes time to advance the line further into the garage, the line becomes taut as firefighters try to pull the line with them. Not much hose is available to be pulled for the advance until another firefighter comes along and assists them with grabbing more hose and bringing it up the driveway. Once there is more hose available, the advancement proceeds with ease.

While this situation is taking place outside, imagine how hampered a crew could become when they are inside a structure and do not have enough hose to advance.

The common practice that is being taught by many progressive fire service instructors is to bring the nozzle and a coupling together. The coupling can be the first coupling at the 50-foot mark or it can be the middle coupling. This ensures that there will be enough hose to advance and no immediate restrictions. Such restrictions include hose kinked around corners of a room or around furniture, being caught under doorways or in the middle of a rail banister, or just being short in length to make the advance and reach the fire room.

If the hoseline is delayed getting into position or reaching the fire room, the fire will have the opportunity to grow, allowing the fire to grow with more intense heat release rates and, of course, increasing likelihood of injury and exposure to toxins.

The little missteps in our operations will add up and eventually will hinder our operations. Removing the dominos or the missteps will help the operation run much more smoothly while simultaneously increasing our effectiveness.

Training time

After watching this video with your company, take the following steps to help prevent similar incidents:

  • Practice pulling off the handline from the engine and ensure that there is the nozzle and a coupling lying side by side at the point of attack.
  • Practice grabbing a section of hose to bring up as a way to advance hose, as opposed to pulling the hose.

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.