Do YOU go in wet or dry? Why?

Helmet cam video of this Pennsylvania house fire drew some comments from readers about entering with an uncharged hoseline,

"Hmm one question....why would you go into a burning building without a charged hose line? A empty line will do nothing for you, especially if no life was in danger. Unnecessary risk." Shane Reed

"I would have gone in with out the line charged. it looked like 10 cents worth of fire, a dry line is a lot easier to lug around than a charged one." Timothy Dexter, Jr.

Every fire and size-up is different. How you might do something will vary from someone else based on training, staffing, alarm assignment, size-up, ect.

In their article "Dry & Wet Hoseline Stretches" Mike Kirby and Tom Lakamp look back at where and when you need to charge that line before the initial attack. They also look at a related line of duty death from their own department.

When does your nozzle team call for water?

What conditions influence you decision to stretch dry?

How much does staffing play a part of your decision?

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I have to disagree with those who think the stretch depicted was appropriate. The line should be charged at the front door for a private dwelling fire. The entire floor area should be considered the fire area. The advance to the fire room just is not that far a distance to justify an uncharged line. We can be fooled by what we initially see at structural fires. There could be fire below us or the fire could be more advanced than initially thought. We also must acknowledge the occasional water supply problem. The last thing we need is to be in the immediate fire area, ready for water, really NEEDING water, and not HAVING water. 

IMO, any department with a staffing situation that dictates advancing uncharged lines into the fire area does not have suitable staffing to fight fires from an interior position. Light staffing should not be a reason to be more aggressive; it should be a reason to be more cautious.

Always Charged hoselines advancing into a building only time an uncharged hoseline should be in a structure fire is if you are taking it to a standpipe to connect and fight from there

Wow !!... A lot of problems from the get go. Definite issue getting the hose off the engine. Didn't seem very coordinated. A firefighter grabs the nozzle and goes but I think that had a lot to do with the rack of the hose. That's a great parade rack but not serviceable for firefighting. The second firefighter goes back and grabs a bunch of hose and just drops it at the engine and then starts flaking it. Grab a few folds - put it over your shoulder and go - flake it out as you go and the job will go much quicker. It looks like a pre-connect based on the look as opposed to a hose bed where you had to calculate the stretch. We have service loops built into our hose rack so it only takes 2 firefighters to advance 250 feet of a 1-3/4" pre-connect and he doesn't have to climb onto the truck to get it. The 2 firefighters can flake out the 250 feet in about a minute. We ALWAYS go into a private dwelling fire with a charged hose line. To find out that there is a problem with the engine getting water to the line, a burst hose line, a problem with the nozzle, etc. is NOT the time for it to happen when you are looking at the fire. Basically sh#t happens and its usually at the worst time don't put yourself in that position to get caught.

We do however stretch a dry line if its a apartment complex with a long stretch to a upper floor, a commercial building with a long stretch from the engine or basically any stretch that the IC determines to be a long stretch. The Officer with the nozzle team or someone who is with the nozzle team will let the MPO know when they are in position to advance and then charge the hose line.

Based on the video it looks like a volunteer fire department with limited manpower during the day. That's even more important to have a charged hose line going in. If there is going to be a problem then at least you have water to protect yourself somewhat. Also - I don't think the nozzle team had a radio to tell the MPO to charge the line - just a lot of screaming.

Just my 2 cents.

Whether to stretch dry or not is situational.  Would I have stretched dry here?  Probably not, but even when you do stretch dry you do not stretch all the way into the fire area before calling for water.

One example that comes to mind was where we stretched dry to the base of the stairs leading to the second story of a single family dwelling.  I had been inside to get a better look, no fire on the first floor and very little fire showing on the second.  It was far easier and faster to dry stretch to the bottom of the stairs, flake out what we thought we would need, call for water and then advance up the stairs. 

An experienced officer, or nozzle person, should be able to make a good decision of whether to enter dry or charged.

I get your point about having done a size up first and therefore made the decision to stretch dry to base of stairs. But how far was it from entry door to base of stairs? How much work did you really save yourselves? 

If it is made a habit to charge it at entry door the safety factor goes up drastically without impacting workload all that much.

We always go in with a wet line.  I've never had a issue on a single residence with two or three people humping hose. Its all about training and making sure you and your crew know how to properly pull crosslays and advance into a structure.  

However I know there are some larger departments who have 30 people arriving on there initial assignment that go in dry. I think when your talking to the larger departments where you have pre determined assignments thats a little different. I



Brennan said:

We always go in with a wet line.  I've never had a issue on a single residence with two or three people humping hose. Its all about training and making sure you and your crew know how to properly pull crosslays and advance into a structure.  

However I know there are some larger departments who have 30 people arriving on there initial assignment that go in dry. I think when your talking to the larger departments where you have pre determined assignments thats a little different. I

IMO, large departments have even less reason to go in dry. The only reason to go in dry is to reduce physical workload. This would make it more attractive to departments with less staffing vs more. In a private dwelling the distances are small that no one should go in dry.

With the amount of furniture and other belongings in the way I made the decision to come in dry versus banging the charged line against everything as we made our way in.  We were approximately 20 feet into the building to base of the stairs.

When you can count on 4 people, or more, all the time to move the hose line then going in charged becomes less of an issue.  When you have 2 people on the first line dry becomes a much easier choice.  
 
captnjak said:

I get your point about having done a size up first and therefore made the decision to stretch dry to base of stairs. But how far was it from entry door to base of stairs? How much work did you really save yourselves? 

If it is made a habit to charge it at entry door the safety factor goes up drastically without impacting workload all that much.

I'm not going to get into debates on this because I have done it both ways with dry and charged lines. If I'm pulling a dry line, it is typically an apartment complex or larger structure with fire contained to a single unit and door closed. For a single family home I prefer a charged line before going in. I can personally recall a few times where we did strecth a dry line and had some close calls with the hose getting under furniture or a door closing partially over the hose and when water came, it was stopped.

 

If you have a long stretch and visibility is decent enough and the stretch is clear, like a hallway or stairwell, I like stretching dry. If it is a single family home, I'll charge the line at the door.

Lack of staffing should not be used to justify shortcuts that can be unsafe. 20 feet is just not that far of a distance. In most houses it's a pretty straight run to the base of the stairs, assuming the stairs are in regular use. Furniture and contents can present more of a problem for dry lines than for charged lines. Not to mention doors as John Crabbe mentioned.

What's the problem with "banging the charged line against everything"?

Again, do what you want where you are and we will do what we deem best here.  You call doing what we need to do with 2 people a short cut, we call making it work.  It's all well and good to talk tactics when you have more people showing up on a first alarm than we will get on a first MABAS box.  Again I have to chuckle because if I have heard it once I have heard it a hundred times from FDNY guys on multiple forums not to do what they do just because they do it, but when you don't, you get told you are wrong.

How were we unsafe?  I was inside previous to the line being brought in.  There was no smoke or fire on the first floor and very little fire on the second floor.  It was easier to bring the line in dry and flake it out for a smooth advance up the stairs once charged.  There was no need to charge in like a bull in a China shop and cause unnecessary damage to belongings on the first floor.  These people are our neighbors, not unknown faceless people in a mega city, so we try to minimalize collateral damage if we can. 

If we would have encountered smoke, fire, or heat, on the first floor we would have entered with a charged line as we have done many times before. 

I did not intend to accuse you in particular of being unsafe. I do believe, as others here obviously do, that it is an unsafe act in general. The perception of what is "very little fire" can change from person to person and fire to fire. Someone does something once and it works so they do it again and again, making it become a habitual act, but no two situations are exactly alike. The possibility then exists of stretching a dry line into a place that it has no place being. Even the best firefighters are occasionally surprised by rapidly changing conditions.

This has nothing to do with the FDNY. Other members who are not FDNY have shared the same viewpoint as I have.

Simply put, IMO the downside of stretching dry into a private dwelling far exceeds the upside. Even with two people stretching/operating the line, the time and/or effort saved by waiting until you are at the base of the stairs to charge the line is not worth the trade off in safety.  Or even a possible trade off in safety. You haven't really demonstrated a great savings in time or energy by leaving the line dry for those extra few yards.

You seem to imply that because FDNY responds to incidents involving strangers that we are unnecessarily destructive. If so, you are just plain wrong. Not to mention, we do have firefighters who live in the same neighborhoods they work in.

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