Itâ€™s my time on the pipe! How many times have you said something similar to this vary statement?Â Being the nozzle firefighter has to be one of the most sought after positions on the fire ground.Â Making the push is where most firefighters want to be, period.Â Its being on the nozzle that we need to keep a few things in mind:
Being the nozzle firefighter requires more than a set of turnout gear. Being the lead firefighter on an advancing hose stream mandates that you have a working understanding of fire flow, itâ€™s application, communication, and accept direction.Â Without these core principles your just a uniformed person who is wrapped in turnout gear and SCBA crawling into danger. Being a nozzle firefighter requires you to fully understand the task you are performing.
Understanding fire flow
Being the nozzle firefighter doesnâ€™t require you to stop at a threshold and work up pump pressures and friction loss equations, that should be handle by this point.Â It does require you to understand the nozzle thats in your hand, itâ€™s reach, flow, and characteristics.Â Are you holding a smooth bore nozzle or a fog?Â Each has it own characteristics when using that should be fully understood.
Smooth bore advantages are the higher volume of water and stronger stream that can be used for a deeper penetration.Â Using this penetration characteristics can help extinguish a deep seeded fire.Â The disadvantage of the smooth bore nozzle is the ability to kink the line as you turn corners.Â With the pump pressure required by smooth bore nozzles being lower it can lead to kinks in the attack line thus reducing the water flow significantly.Â A firefighter that is operating with a smooth bore should understand these disadvantages and understand the warning signs of a kinked hose.
The fog nozzle needs to be fully understood as well.Â Before entering a super heated environment the nozzle firefighters should bleed the air out of the line and adjusting the pattern to a straight stream. Being able to adjust the fog nozzle pattern should be constantly trained on in the event that wide angle fog stream is required.Â
Without a doubt this is an area that is seen time and time again breaking down on the fire ground,Â Whether it is due to face pieces or just a simple hearing the order problem we should be developing both verbal and non-verbal communications when advancing a hoseline.Â How much time do we really have to stop and talk about this task?Â
It starts on the drill field by working with officers and firefighters alike to develop some sort of communication.Â Two taps of the right shoulder means go right or if I pull on your coat a certain way we need to get out ASAP.Â Each of us have our way of approaching nozzle advancement it should be constant within your group to reduce confusion when making the push.
At minimum the officer or fighter that is directing the attack should stop at the doorway and explain where we are going and what we are trying to accomplish. We are going down thisÂ front hallway and making are way to the right.Â Use the moments outside to share this information with everyone before you place on your face piece or outside.Â By doing this you can increase the understanding of our goal and how we plan to accomplish it.Â
The one time on the fire ground that we need to be in complete synchronization with each other has to be on the hoseline.Â One firefighter will not be able to pull and advance it through a building alone. It takes a coordinated effort between all involved.Â In doing so we will need to take direction without question. Unless you feel that your life, or those around you, are in danger advancing a hose line is not the place for a great debate.Â
Making the push is a time for discipline and receiving direction as we make an advancement.Â Being able to understand, accept, and carry out the directions given takes discipline on our part.Â It also takes focus on the task at hand.
Are you ready to Nozzle Up?
Before you go running for the nozzle on your next fire you should take some time to review the basic principles of being the lead firefighter. Take the time to look in the mirror and revisit some of the things we learned in the beginning of our careers.Â Use this time to refocus on making the push, Jumpseat Style.Â A educated firefighter that understands the whyâ€™s with the howâ€™s and can apply them at a momentâ€™s notice is the firefighter that I want on the nozzle anytime we are making the push. So NOZZLE up and get ready for your next fire!Â