First, let thank you all for the comments.  There are no right or wrong answers, just great thoughts and ideas for us to all think about and learn from.  Now, the rest of the story.

The rest of the story.

There is nothing earth shattering here, but I learned two valuable lessons on this fire.

When we pulled up on this fire, the first arriving engines were all two man cabs. We didn’t have jump seats in any of our trucks at the time. I did some digging and found out that this fire was in 1997.

The drive was narrow and we got hung up in the ditch, blocking the drive right off the bat.  Luckily we had multiple trucks rolling at the dispatch and we had adequate personnel.

The first crew stretched a 1 3/4 inch line in through the side B door in the kitchen and advanced up the stairs.  The first floor had no smoke or fire at this time.  It became apparent fairly quickly that the initial attack was not making any progress.

We advanced a second line, a 2 1/2 inch stretch up the same stairs and made a very fast knock down.  The importance of this is that we did this with less than 1000 gallons of water.  Why do I stress this?

I have had debates about using large lines when water supplies are limited or late in developing.  When asked about using a larger line the response is that they would not use one because they will run out of water too fast.  My rebuttal is always that they may just get enough gpm on the fire to put it out before you run out of water.  That is exactly what we did.  Oh, and two guys handled the hose!

So, lesson 1 is big fire equals big water. If the fire is advanced enough that you will run out of water, it wont make any difference what size your line is. But, the larger line will put out more fire in that short amount of time.

While we were up stairs fighting fire, there was a crew in the living room doing some work. They had started salvage operations in the unaffected part of the house.  Understand that we didn’t need extensive ventilation and we had adequate manpower.  But, they stacked and covered everything in the living room and did the same in other rooms that were appropriate.

This ended up paying off big with the homeowner. As happy as they were about us putting out their fire, they were just as happy, or even more so, that we protected what had not been damaged by fire but would have been by the water.  When they were interviewed by the paper they went on and on about our efforts to protect all of their property.

So, lesson number 2 is to take the time to perform salvage operations if manpower and conditions permit. It is something that is too often overlooked.

By the way, there was no basement here, but all of you are correct in assuming this until you know for sure.  All of the responses were great and I really appreciate the time that you took to share.

Stay safe and be careful.

http://firefightersenemy.com

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Big fire = big water - been preached for a very long time. In the pic, it does not appear that it is such "big fire" and understandably, the first route of attack would be the status quo handlind (1 1/2 or 1 3/4) which is most common. Especially when it is know that water is going to be limited.
Having a hydrant, and with unlimited water on hand, would certainly be ideal and one less thing for the IC to be concerned about in the initial sizeup, but being without, and choosing the not so common route of 21/2 line, would probably not be something the average small town commander would want to risk, especially if they were not in the habit of doing it and therefore not as proficient as they are with the smaller lines.
I watch many videos posted on here, and many times, it appears that the guys operating the nozzle are simply spraying at will, like a candle-moth syndrome.. open the knob and push water and hope it hits the right spot, but not giving too much thought to nozzle technique or correct stream, or pattern. This wastes precious water, and of course if it is going to be in short supply from the get go, the commander has to start MA from the outset of the alarm. (pre-planning would help determine which areas are not on hydrants and would require tanker shuttle etc)
Another thing is, I was always taught, attack from the unburned side, thereby instead of pushing the fire back into the unburned areas of the home, they actually push the fire out the closest vent points, to the area of origin (if they catch it in time) such as windows etc. Of course that would also allow for a salvage operation. While the fire is actually being fought, crews could indeed be inside doing the salvage, and not be worried that the attack crews were going to push that bad ass fire right back over top of them.
I know this method works, as I have been inside when they do it wrong, and know first hand it can burn! lol
It is very very gratifying, when you bust your ass to try and save a home that is clearly not going to be saved, while the owners stand on the street and watch their life go up in flames, then to take those owners, and show them that we have saved their lifelong treasures- pictures, heirlooms, furniture etc.
We can go from zeros (people still sometimes think we did not do enough to save their home despite our best efforts) to heros by doing good salvage, and like some have already stated, how many dept. really even consider this as an initial tactic along with the initial attack?
Awesome post as always, keeps people thinking outside the box, and that only makes us better.
I have never had to use a 2 1/2 line for a offensive attack on a residence .
CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP...well put.
Kudos to all for an excellent discussion!

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