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Video: Pa. engineers expertly stage apparatus at working structure fire

Training on how to stage apparatus at different types of incident types yields two clear benefits for real-world scenarios

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Fire truck placement is crucial when arriving on scene for any type of response but particularly for a structure fire call. Due to the fast-moving, high-stress nature of these responses, some members might park the engine right in front of the structure to engage quickly without the consideration of a staging strategy.

In today’s video, we see an excellent example of how to stage apparatus arriving on scene.

Make room for the ladder

When the engine arrives on scene, it does not stop at the front door of the structure but rather pulls just past it. Doing this gives priority staging to other arriving apparatus, such as the ladder truck that may be responding.

Though the engine crew needs to be close to the incident scene in order to reach the blaze, a hoseline can be extended to accommodate the distance needed, and crews can snake the hose around objects to reach the intended target.

Conversely, an aerial ladder on top of a truck cannot be extended, nor can it be snaked around parked objects like a hose can. It’s vital that the aerial ladder remains in close proximity to the building. This can only be accomplished by ceding the front address or the corners of the structure to the ladder.

2 benefits to strategic staging

Training on how to stage at different types of responses gives first-arriving crews the muscle memory to take later-arriving apparatus into consideration, which benefits crews on scene in two ways:

  1. Helps maintains a clear roadway. Notice where the first-arriving engine stages in the video – across the street from the involved structure. Doing so opens the roadway for arriving trucks, giving them the room needed to position and operate. It also keeps the engine company away from the radiant heat and the collapse zone, should the front wall of the building give way.
  2. Gives crews flexibility on scene. Leaving crews room to operate the aerial ladder will allow for more tactical options. In the video, you will notice that the aerial ladder has the room to not only provide elevated aerial operations but also low-level aerial operations. Having enough scrub space will allow the aerial ladder to be used without extending to apply water in this case.

In our video example, the aerial ladder truck arrives on scene and is staged behind the engine but in front of the building. Here, the aerial ladder is also protected from the radiant heat and collapse zone – made possible due to the first-arriving truck not staging right in front of the structure.

Training time

After watching this video and reading about the incident, create a training scenario in which the engine arrives first on scene, with the aerial ladder arriving just afterwards. Have crews practice staging the engine in a way that will allow the aerial ladder to have the advantage. This can be repeated at different building types within the response district.

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.