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What should roll first? Why?

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  • What should roll first? Why?


    We're having one heck of a debate concerning which truck should be first out the door.

    For simplicity's sake, let's say we have at our only station:

    - 95' Aerial Platform, 2000gpm/300gal, truck tools
    - Engine/Squad 2000gpm/750gal CAF, engine tools, rescue tools
    - Engine 1500gpm/1000gal engine tools

    (now we actually run the 1500gpm out of it's own station a short distance down the road... i just don't want to cloud the issue with it's location at this time)

    For the longest time, we'd run an engine first out, followed by the old straight ladder, and so on. When we got our new tower, we had a problem with engines blocking access to buildings and the tower would not be able to make a set. And so the tower became the first-out piece. Currently there is a push to have "an engine" respond first out.

    Personally, I want our CAF truck first out. All-too-often it ends up sitting on a hydrant, which isn't it's best use IMHO. However, I also understand the importance of early vertical ventilation when appropriate. I maintain that our tactical objectives:
    with ventilation and salvage taking place somewhere in there
    ...can be accomplished best if the engine company is first out. Our tower is not the ideal piece of apparatus for pulling handlines (very small amount of water)... and the tower crew ended up pulling handlines, while the engine crew ended up operating the platform! Luckily we have many ff's who are cross-trained on apparatus!

    I feel there are other ways to alleviate backdraft conditions in addition to vertical ventilation, including pulling windows and gable vents. Our CAF engine also has a vent saw, rotary saw, and straight chainsaw. And with lightweight construction these days, I question the decision to routinely put people on the roof (a judgement call, I realize).

    And I think operator training will alleviate the situations we've had in the past when engines block access for the tower. There are also many areas in our town where the big tower simply won't go (we knew this when we bought the truck... we just have some areas where anything bigger than a pickup truck is too big). So we worry about getting the tower half-way into somewhere, only to realize "uh oh." But this is only for a portion of our response area.

    I'm just curious, on average, what would you roll first if you had the trucks that we had? Let's say you had 6 well-rounded ff's show up... should they all pile into one? Split the crews between 2 and roll both?

    Thoughts and explanations GREATLY appreciated.
    God Bless America!Remember all have given some, but some have given all.
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  • #2
    we run a POC house........combined FF/EMS............our running assignment got changed about 6 years ago so that it bascially goes, engine, quint platform, engine, support vehicles etc. Before it went engine, heavy squad, engine, ladder..........back in the day if the 85ft Sutphen left the house Code 3.....then it must be really bad and townsfolk would scramble to see where we were we just psyche 'em out !
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    • #3
      My first instinct would be to send the engine first, followed by the tower, if you have to choose one over the other. But, if you do have 6 fully-qualified & well-rounded FFs available, then I'd send both right from the get-go. That's enough people to get you started with an entry team on the hoseline, a pump operator, an officer/incident commander, and a vent/outside/truck crew. You can do an awful lot with that in the first few minutes, and it's enough people, with enough experience, that you can adapt & deal with anything unexpected that pops up. As for the CAF truck, provided it has the same suppression capabilities as the engine, and provided that you have adequate water supply (are you in a well-hydranted area, or might you need to rely on a tanker?), then it could go out first instead of the engine; my only concern there is not knowing what your water supply is like -- I'd rather have the 1000 gallons in the tank (on the engine) to start me off while I wait for help with water supply, unless I'm darn sure that I'll have a hydrant within a few hundred feet. Just my humble opinion.

      Constantly learning member of the IACOJ.

      * John 15:13 *


      • #4
        CAF Engine is 2,000gpm/750gal.

        We can usually muster a crew of 6 people quite fast, with others taking a bit longer to arrive. So yes, an option is to split 3/3 between the 2 trucks.

        Most of the area is hydranted, though there are some points on our islands and along our northern border where there are no hydrants.
        God Bless America!Remember all have given some, but some have given all.
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        • #5

          A few questions before I answer yours:

          - What is the total number of SCBA seats in each apparatus, as well as the total seating capacities of each?
          - Are there any other support vehicles that roll on structure fires, and what are their seating capacities?
          - What is the total average turnout for structure fires
          - Do you typically have a chief officer/IC respond direct in a command vehicle or POV?
          - Do the rescue/pumper and/or tower have electronic engine governors and/or items such as oversized water level lights, and what is your policy about having an engineer at the panel?
          - What is your department’s policy regarding operation of the tower from the bucket?
          - Why no CAFS on the tower?
          - Did you get my email?
          - When do we get to see your new brush truck/mini pumper?
          Last edited by HFDCLanger; 06-15-2004, 08:12 PM.


          • #6
            I agree with you, Resq14.

            Yes, ventilation is important, but you can't ventilate until your attack team is ready anyway, right?

            What if you're faced with a fire in its early stages and have the option to make a quick attack to knock it down before it gets away from you? Would you rather do that with your truck or your engine? Sure, your aerial can provide 2000 gpm, but with only 300 gal on board, that could only last you about 9 seconds (okay, I know you wouldn't be flowing 2000 gpm out of one hand line, but I think you get my point). I'd rather have the engine with more water on board.

            Our department's SOP: Engine first. Then, depending on the nature of the call, either the pumper/tanker or the aerial.


            • #7

              - What is the total number of SCBA seats in each apparatus, as well as the total seating capacities of each? Engine has 6 SCBA, as does Tower. Next due engine has 5.

              - Are there any other support vehicles that roll on structure fires, and what are their seating capacities? Second due engine seats 6, Medic unit with 2 scba, and a third due engine seats 5 with 4 scba.

              - What is the total average turnout for structure fires? Depends largely on time of day... we can usually get between 10 and 20 interior people on scene, again, time dependant.

              - Do you typically have a chief officer/IC respond direct in a command vehicle or POV? POV

              - Do the rescue/pumper and/or tower have electronic engine governors and/or items such as oversized water level lights, and what is your policy about having an engineer at the panel? Yes, both have electronic engine governors. There are no external tank lights (cut against my wishes). We typically operate with a pump operator, but it has happened that the truck has been dead-manned. Obviously that is not ideal.

              - What is your department’s policy regarding operation of the tower from the bucket? We try to have an operator at the pedestal even when the tower is being operated from the platform. Also, if there is water flowing from the truck, we try to have a dedicated pump operator.

              - Why no CAFS on the tower? This purchase was our first experience with CAFS... I bet if we had it to do over again, it would. A town a few miles away recently purchased a CAF engine and CAF tower from Pierce.

              - Did you get my email? Yep! I will fire off a reply... got tied up at work.

              - When do we get to see your new brush truck/mini pumper? Yes I have dragged my feet on that one. There was a hold up with the truck at the local Whelen shop, and it was MIA for a while. But it's back, lettered, and I'll try to get some pics soon.
              God Bless America!Remember all have given some, but some have given all.
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              Click this to search FH Forums!


              • #8
                I would go Engine, Truck, Engine.

                Your squad/engine is going to be more manuverable and versatile than a truck. If your area is mostly residential, most of the vent work will be accomplished with ground ladders anyways.

                Train your engine drivers & company officers to leave room for the truck. If your squad/engine doesn't have crosslays and all lines are pulled from the back, this should be easier.

                If your truck crew knows they are going to be doing truck work at every fire, you could even set up some seat/riding assignments to make sure it's all covered.


                • #9
                  I agree, engine, then truck, then squad. if the engine is getting in the way, and they are parking where the truck should be parked, then you need to retrain the engine drivers to make sure to leave room for the truck. let the engine secure a water supply, and start the initial knockdown. the truck then pulls in front of the house and sets up for truck ops. if you have 6 guys, split them up into either 3 and 3 or 4 and 2.

                  but i definetly think the engine should be first, even when the tower/stick doubles as a quint
                  If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!



                  • #10
                    Ok…First off, no debate: CAFS rig goes first.

                    Chief Officer responds direct, takes command

                    - First due: Engine 1 (CAFS/squad) with three (3) firefighters (drops supply line on the way in): one engineer, two (already on air) for forced entry and initial attack team. Engineer takes initial accountability, and may have to assume initial command if Chief Officer is going to be delayed, but should be avoided at all costs.

                    - Second due: Tower 1 with three (3) firefighters: vent team – driver remains at pedestal, two firefighters (already on air) form the roof team OR (if aerial device use is restricted) driver foots ground ladder, two firefighters take the roof.

                    IF rescue/primary search is indicated, the two tower firefighters form the initial search team, and ventilation will have to be performed by engine and tower drivers from the ground (preferably by pulling a gable vent/window with pike poles, or using a 16-20’ ground ladder with hooks out as a vent tool) OR have vertical ventilation assigned to the next due company.

                    - Third due: Engine 2 (?) with four (4) firefighters (secures backup water supply on the way in, as necessary): two firefighters stretch backup line, two firefighters assist with truck work (secondary search, backup vent team, check for extension, etc)

                    - Automatic aid engine company: RIT & proactive exterior operations (as feasible). If chief AND company officer respond with the engine, chief officer may take safety.

                    All additional support vehicles arriving assume additional functions such as rehab, relief crews, salvage, overhaul, etc.

                    Points for consideration:

                    - Implement assigned seating positions for all apparatus. Be strict but allow for flexibility (eg, second due engine takes ventilation if truck company is performing a search).

                    - Identify the best size crew for each operation, and hold your firefighters to it. For example, if you decide that a crew of two can handle all your initial attack line stretches, DON’T let a 3rd person get on the line. When you have limited manpower, loosing one firefighter as an ‘extra’ here and another as an ‘extra’ there means you have just lost an entire fireground function.

                    - Going hand-in-hand with this, identify the optimal crew size for each apparatus, and don’t roll with any less OR any more than that (with the exception of fires on drill night...). Otherwise you have a 4th person on the first-due engine that is not really part of the team and promotes crew fragmentation (in relation to scenario above).

                    - Install oversized water level lights on all the rigs (see picture in post below), and wire a gong to the alarms for all critical engine functions. Install an automatic tank fill setup (as discussed in the CAFS thread) and feed the engine that way. This allows the engineer to monitor the supply line status AWAY from the truck – via the tank level lights.

                    - For more flexibility, retrofit CAFS on the tower when you win the lottery

                    - Set up engines to lay dual LDH lines – this will reduce or eliminate the need for the second due engine to end up at the hydrant.

                    - Consider automatic hydrant valves and/or the Meyers quick drop system to prevent the loss of a firefighter at the hydrant.

                    - Do whatever it takes to train your drivers so that they position apparatus appropriately to allow for proper aerial placement with the tower as the second-due unit

                    I know I had a few more thoughts, but I can’t think of them now – I’ll re-post if I think of anything to add.

                    To summarize:
                    You’ve already justified your choices: Engine 1 goes first for its CAFS – a far superior firefighting tool (I hope that the rest of your department feels the same way if they forked out the money for it), which, when combined with the 750 gallons of water, will far out-perform the 1,000 gallons of plain water on engine 2, not to mention the 300 gallons on the tower. If necessary, it would be far better to perform both suppression and ventilation with the engine than to try and attempt both with the tower – plus the maneuverability issues that you mentioned.

                    Tower goes second – because you want your aerial next – and positions in spot left by the carefully trained engine driver, eliminating the problem of coming short with the aerial.

                    I would highly recommend splitting the crews evenly, and doing whatever you can to promote stronger crew integrity, including implementation of riding/seating assignments.
                    Last edited by HFDCLanger; 06-19-2004, 06:35 PM.


                    • #11
                      I agree with the CAFS/aerial/pumper response order. Since it sounds like your staffing is adequate for the first due, you can use the added/extended capability of the CAFS engine (over the H2Only pumper) to get a quick knockdown and/or protect exposures as the situation dictates.

                      Blocking access for the aerial is strictly a training issue and should have nothing to do with response order. I suspect you were taught to pull past the fire building so you can see three sides and leave room for the aerial like I was? Maybe the troops just need a reminder.

                      a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for


                      • #12
                        If the other members of your department nixed the oversized tank level lights because they didn't like the looks, propose retrofitting all the rigs with 4-color Whelen LED strip lights - effective when in operation, but barely noticable when not illuminated (ie when the pump is not in gear).

                        Here's a shot of a retrofit job as above:

                        Is there a reason that IMG code is disabled in this forum?
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by HFDCLanger; 06-19-2004, 07:18 PM.


                        • #13
                          The order I would go:

                          Engine/Sqad w/ CAF

                          Reasoning: I know we live our traditions, but at the same time we are concerned with safety. In a lot of aspects, those two thoughts clash when applied together, not all of the time, but sometimes. So with that in mind, safety is my concern. A CAF system can do the same job as straight water in less time, which equals getting FF's out of bad enviroments in less time.

                          To my second due choice, aerial for obvious reasons.

                          So that leaves the engine, I know its a good piece of equip. that has no justice done to it prolly in third, but we cannot think about that, just think what is more effective.

                          IMM, you just cant beat the capabilities of foam over straight water.

                          If we had this setup, I would split the crew up, b/c unfortunatly, we have a lot of straight to the scene (Not even to the station, which would better if POV was neccessary) POV response so we could staff at the scene (Trust me, if it were my choice it wouldnt be this way, they could at least come to the FH first..)

                          In your sit., still split them.
                          Last edited by FiftyOnePride; 06-21-2004, 09:58 AM.
                          51 Pride - R.I.P. Sandy
                          Alarm 200644004, I won't ever forget.

                          Remember you only have 1*.



                          • #14
                            What's first out

                            First off, all I can see is a lack of training. All the apparatus operators must be trained in positioning. The first in engine should pull past the fire building for two (2) reasons. First so the officer can see three sides of the building for proper size-up, and second to make room for the Truck. You can always stretch more hose, but you can't make that tower any longer. What I can also get out of your post is your companies are relying on pre-conects, which is why the engine is always stopping in front of the buildings. We are all getting complacent on these tactics and should train on different hose lead outs that fit our areas of reponse. Always have different options and train on them often.
                            BE SAFE BROTHERS!


                            • #15
                              Hi all,

                              My department is set up close to as what was described in the first post. We respond with CAFS engine 1st, Scope 2nd (no pump) engine 3rd. Our motto is "MAKE THE FIRST LINE COUNT". Weekday our staffing is minimum of 6. Officer in staff vehicle, 3 on first engine and 1 on Scope and 2nd engine. Additional manpower comes from volunteer division, recall and mutual aid companies. Mutual aid company provides a FAST team as well. All of our efforts go into making the first CAFS attack line count. We still comply with 2 in 2 out mandate. Use PPV with fire attack.

                              Hope this helps.

                              Be Safe,

                              Captain Lou
                              "GOT FOAM?"


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