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Fire attack: Use the deck gun on offense

Typically thought of as a defensive weapon, the deck gun can buy you crucial time to make an interior attack

Most fire apparatus or engines are equipped with a top-mounted deck gun. This is a great asset for the engine company, as they have access to a large weapon that can be used for both defensive and offensive fire tactics.

Often, the deck gun is not looked upon as a viable option for the majority of our fires and seems to be used as a last resort when going defensive. However, the deck gun can be used as an initial offensive weapon to quickly help knock down spreading fire conditions and buy some more time for an interior attack.

Deck guns can be piped either by a single water pipe or by two separate water pipes. Regardless of how it is supplied in the pump housing, it delivers a high flow rate at a great distance.

Some monitor models can deliver up to 1,250 gpm a great distance from the fire. These types of systems require a good water source that can supply the needed amount of water.

Some engines are equipped to carry a water supply of up to 1,500 gallons. This amount of water is helpful as it provides a short, but long enough, amount of time to be effective with a quick knockdown using the deck gun.

Small crew attack
Some departments are resorting to this tactic as a way to overcome staffing or response-time issues. When the first arriving apparatus shows up with only a few people on board, it may prove difficult to initiate an interior attack safely.

Instead, firefighters can use the deck gun to stop the spread of fire, knock it down and then send crews inside to finish off the rest of the job. By this time, additional crews will hopefully arrive on scene.

The attached video elaborates on how and when to use a deck gun in combination with attack lines. It is important to remember not to use this technique when there are viable victims in the structure.

I responded to a fire in a three-story residential building where we used the deck gun to quickly hit the fire on the third floor while we waited for other resources to arrive. The time gained by emptying our onboard water tank through the deck gun allowed us to set up the water supply, pull off our attack lines, then make entry with the next arriving truck’s personnel.

This tactic will take practice to know just how much time you will have to use the deck gun with your on-board water supply. This will give you an idea of what can be accomplished in a short period of time.

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.