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Using exterior handlines while there is a crew inside

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  • Using exterior handlines while there is a crew inside

    Can anyone think of a reason to use exterior hand lines while there is a crew inside the structure, and what kind of problem's could this cause for the crew that is inside?
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

    Edward F. Croker
    Chief 1899-1911
    Fire Dept. City of New York

  • #2
    Thier are many situations that we considered "NEVER" situations.
    Never use opposing handlines,
    Never attack a fire from ouside while crews are inside.
    Always attack from the unburnt side

    I'm sure if we thought about it we could come up with many more.

    For the most part those absolutes are true, but if you have good experienced officers you can safely and effectivly break some of those rules.

    A situation where you could use exterior line while crews are inside include: when crews are on different floors or separated from the fire area by the buildings construction.

    It is very important that your officers know where EVERYONE is on the fireground. You could make conditions very bad for the interior crews by improperly using exterior lines. You also need firefighters who don't freelance on the fireground.

    If I wasn't sure about my crews abilities and/or their experience I probably wouldn't use those tactics.


    • #3
      I would say it's a safety issue??? We are taught not to do this for a reason!!! I have been inside working when someone saw fire in awindow and opened up. I had numerous steam burns, and my team had to immediatly pull out because of the sudden onset of heat and the fact they darkend down everything! I agree on separate floors you probably can get away with it, but you better know for a fact there are no f.f.'s on that floor! I just thought of another reason! I work with alot of rookies, and if that were to happen to some of them, they would panic and possibly get themselves or someone else hurt! I say just don't do it unless it's an emergency(emrgency protection of an inside team)!! Stay safe!


      • #4
        Can anyone think of a reason to use exterior hand lines while there is a crew inside the structure, and what kind of problem's could this cause for the crew that is inside?

        That's really two completely seperate issues.

        Can anyone think of a reason to use exterior hand lines while there is a crew inside the structure
        Yes, many.
        One that comes to mind is fire starts coming from the eaves while a crew is attacking a fire on the fire floor. An exterior line placed into operation quickly and briefly can knock that fire down and buy time for another interior crew to get into position to deal with the attic, or buy time for the main attack crew to complete knockdown and turn their attention to the attic.

        Another situation is to use exterior streams in perpendicular support to the interior team. The interior team conducts a holding action to keep a fire from a fully involved addition from entering, while exterior teams with large handlines and/or master streams knock down the bulk of the fire and heat. They operate in perpendicular so you're not in an opposing hose streams situation, nor are you pushing fire into the building.

        and what kind of problem's could this cause for the crew that is inside?

        Done correctly, with Command officers who have the big picture, communicating well to their Line Officers, and crews that maintain discipline and don't disobey orders combining interior and exterior operations can be safely done simultaneously. Those three above though are big orders to fill (isn't that a sad commentary?).

        As ADSN/WNFLD said in his post, don't operate opposing handlines and don't operate exterior lines in the immediate vicinity of interior lines. And I'd agree with ADSN/WNFLD -- unless I had absolute confidence in the ability & experience of the crews involved, I wouldn't mix those operations.
        IACOJ Canine Officer


        • #5
          What's an exterior handline?


          • #6
            It's a garden hose, dontcha know!!!!!!!

            Stay Safe
            Fire Fighter/Driver
            TLVFD, NY


            • #7
              Hey! Even I know what an exterior hand line is, and I’m from the U of K.
              It’s what you use, when you have had a really really bad day, and are totally ****ed, it’s an hour past dinner time, and its freezing cold and wet. Exterior hand lines are what you use to float the structure off to the next fire house’s fire ground.


              • #8
                the exterior handline is for when its time to save the basement and you throw the rubber duckey in!!!!!


                • #9
                  An exterior hose line is used to create another parkinglot!! Ie. Save the slab.


                  • #10
                    Here is my opinion and it may be wrong, but its mine.

                    1. The use of exterior hand lines is only for when you have decided to use a defensive attack.

                    2. A defensive attack means that no one is inside.

                    3. Interior attack lines would indicate that you are using an offensive attack.

                    4. If you are using a exterior hand line on an offensive attack, you are a coward sissy.

                    5. If you are a coward sissy, you should not be a member of the fire department.

                    And yes I have been burned from a coward sissy sticking a hose line in through a window while I was inside. Please expect to have your *** kicked if you decide to stick a hose line into a window or even worse, a vent hole. Which is a whole other topic.
                    My comments posted here do not reflect the views of my department.


                    • #11
                      Well some of you have a definite opinion on the subject. How about a senerio for those NEVER people. Your at an appartment building with a fire on the top floor, it has self vented and is threatening the eaves. A few crews move in for an interior attack, but the appartment door is giving them a lot of trouble, (multiple locks, wrong tools, whatever).

                      Do you consider it wrong to hit the fire to prevent it from entering the attic? Perhaps you pride yourself in hosting multiple alarm fires. Again if your department can't control its members then you should tell your guys to NEVER use a line from the outside.

                      I don't support attacking fires from the outside as a norm, but to completly exclude it in EVERY situation is irresponsible. You need to stay flexible. While not the same topic, many forum posts have talked about blitz lines to knock down a well involved structure then moving in for the kill. Do you consider that wrong?

                      I don't want to start a mud flinging session, but lets stay flexable.


                      • #12
                        There was a recent fire in our area where command opted for the "surround and drown" when many others thought there should have been adequate interior before resorting to only exterior handlines. (but of course, that's probably a different subject altogether!)

                        I've talked with firefighters who found themselves driven to the ground during an interior attack by the unwise use of exterior handlines. I've only a few years of firefighting under my belt, but I'm sure others could better explain the pros and cons. Just my two cents.

                        stay safe,


                        • #13
                          I'm sure most of us could think of one or two reasons to use a handline when there is a crew in the building, but, just as most of the replies thus far have indicated, there probably is no true NEVERs and ALWAYS in firefighting. While I agree that once interior attack has been initiated, exterior attack should be avoided, there are some circumstances that would warrant it, such as ADSN/WFLD and DALMATION90 have described. Some years ago I was on a Truck Company on an apartment fire where 2 engine crews almost got into a fist-fight because the first-arriving crew was advancing into the fire aparment from the stairwell and the second-arriving crew hit the fire through the sliding glass door just at the same time the first-in crew opened the apartment door As ADSN/WFLD pointed out, coordination and disciplined crews are essential. I have to disagree with WATERBOY620 - just because you use exterior attack as an offensive measure does not mean you are a "coward sissy". If you are relatively sure the structure has been evacuated and the fire has already vented itself, it's not totally out of the question to darken down the fire with a straight stream from the exterior before beginning an interior attack - this used to be a fairly common scenario - the engine driver would hit the fire with a quick blast from the wagon pipe while the crew was getting set up for an interior attack to complete the job. With the 2-in, 2-out requirements now in effect in most departments, this could be a very useful and effective method to keep the fire in check until the interior attack can commence.

                          BUT, like I said at the beginning, anyone can think up a scenario to fit the tactics - the REAL challenge is to find the effective and efficient tactics to fit the scenario when it is presented (i.e. when you arrive on the scene) - every situation/incident presents it's own unique challenges.
                          An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!


                          • #14
                            I've been taught not to use exterior lines when there are crews inside, and I have been on the receiving end of this stupid move, But would I never use an exterior line w/crews inside? Nope, with the correct discipline it can be done. Another rule of thumb is to fight the fire from the unburned side, again never say never. When we started making the shift back to smooth bores we found several things, one of which is you really can't push the fire with a smooth bore (or maybe a fog with a really good straight stream,but I doubt it). So you COULD fight the fire with a crew inside (don't hit them with the stream!) and you COULD fight the fire from the unburned side. So this opened up a lot of possibilities for us. If you pulled up to a fire with the fire in the front (with your 2 man crew) you COULD attack the fire from that side instead of pulling the line past the gate,through the front yard,past the dog,around the back into the rear door and then through the house to put water on the fire. We've even dropped the tank through the deck gun while the second engine laid a supply line and a handline was pulled, it's a fast and effective way to knock down a lot of fire if it is done right.


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