Our successes and failures begin with the engine

By Ty Wheeler

Every fire department operates as a team. Not a single resource can perform all duties required on the fireground. We need incident command to make strategic decisions, the truck to ventilate and search, and medics for victims and our own safety, but one company is the foundation of every fire department and an integral part of fire suppression: the engine company. The engine company is the workhorse of the fire service. If we are poor at engine work, we are a poor fire department.

The engine company has the simplest job in theory, which is to put water on the fire, but it is complex to execute. There are so many variables and unknowns the engine crew will face, so their job is much more than dragging a hose into the structure. With fire burning faster than ever before, our ability to stretch the handline becomes more apparent. To be faster, there are only a few areas on which we can improve. We cannot make our apparatus faster. We can try to improve notification time, but our ability for that is minimal and with great cost to dispatch centers and fire safety appliances. So, where can we make up the time? 

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