Do you like pistol grips on the nozzle or no?  This video explains why I do not.  Also, how do you think the back-up firefighter should position himself in relation to the nozzle firefighter?

Nozzle & Back-up Techniques Video


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watch the video if you haven't already!
Ben, nice job on the strap, I have used mine before, and proper technique as always make a job so much easier. Also, the pistol grip can be a great thing for a smaller dept, if they only use it to pull, if they use a 1 3/4 line put the nozzle out in front of them and advance and use proper technique they will see it is easier and less of a strain when advancing. Give it a shot put the nozzle out in front of you like the video and just sit there and then do the same with having the nozzle right up on you and you will see it will fatigue you a lot faster. Also do those techniques while advancing. And as long as its a combination fog/smoothbore you are where you should be. Not all fires you need a smoothbore, car fires and like you said hay fires don't need a smoothbore. But on my rig our primary lines are smoothbore our back up line for the 1 3/4 has the fog tip on but can be spun off, our trash line is a combo with the fog tip still on. our 2 1/2" nozzles though are smoothbore.
One advantage of pistol grips is that it makes the line easier to control for firefighters with smaller hands.

Personally, I don't care if a 1.75 inch line has a pistol grip or not - I rarely use it. I prefer the old-school playpipes on 2.5 inch lines. My department uses exclusively 50 PSI nozzles (smooth bores and combination nozzles with removable fog tips. With the lower-pressure nozzles, if the backup firefighter has to lean into the nozzleman or if he's even within arm's reach, either the driver is over-pumping the line or the backup firefighter is out of position, or both.

With only two people to move the line and 50-PSI nozzles, it's better to have the backup firefighter farther back on the line to assist in maneuverability. One firefighter can easily control a 1.75 inch nozzle in that situation.

Regardless, the presence or absence of a pistol grip or playpipe isn't pertinent - simply don't use it if you want to operate the nozzle in the way the video shows.
I like the pistol grip nozzle. Our trucks all have them. Better grip gives you better control.
The testing for the article was done in Wildwood NJ by myself and the co-author Rob Feltwell. I used to work there and Rob does presently. West Wildwood allowed us to use their engine and some nozzles and the rest of the nozzles were from Wildwood City FD. Avalon FD provided the flow meters. Thanks to all of them!
Pistol grips just teach firefighters to hold the hose wrong.
I have used nozzles with and without pistol grips. I have no preference either way. I have done it very much like the video. I have taught my ff's to extend their nozzles to the extend of their arms to help them maneuver and control the nozzle. I have found that there are ff's who simply could not maintain arm's length letting the nozzle recoiled back against their bodies, which makes a pistol grip a better option insofar as control goes. And, you are right, Chris, $40 can be used elsewhere especially when we are all counting pennies nowadays.

A web is a wonderful tool. I had jumped on that when I first saw the technique demonstrated. And, this technique may be used whether you are alone or partnered up, pistol grip or not. It relieves your arms to do the firefighting instead of fighting the recoil of the hose.

I have always been taught that the backup ff should be right up your back like in the video. This way the backup person helps to take up a lot of the strain from the nozzle person whose job is the fight in front of him/her, not the backside.
I do not like them. I have seen too many firefighters, and myself at times, with the nozzle too close to the body for a good sweep in a room. I teach new young firefighters, too try and keep that nozzle out in front of them.
If the second man on the line is within 18 to 24 inches of the nozzle man, there should be no problem moving that nozzle around. The nozzleman should not have to work so much.
The pistol grip only has you holding the nozzle too close to you, almost lazily. I'm just saying!!
Chris, I think the video is very clean and shows very good technique. Clearly a pistol grip is not very useful using that technique. What is good for the nozzle shown in the video however is maybe not so good for the automatic fog tips found on the hand lines I have on our engines. Absolutely, the nozzle has to be at least an arms length away from the firefighter. The pistol grip is the only thing that allows me to keep control of the nozzle reaction force created by 200 psi engine pressure and flows of 250 gpm from a 1¾” or 500 gpm from a 2½”.

I do have something that is made possible because of pistol grips… We have come up with a different way of using a pistol grip for high flow transitional attack. What it enables us to do is put a 500 gpm handline into operation with one firefighter transitional. What that means to us is fire showing out of just about everything on side “A”. A single firefighter can stand on the front walkway and open up with 500 gpm and flow into the front door and windows to the left and right with complete control and without much brute force. Once knock down is achieved from outside we drop the 2½” and advance an 1¾” in for overhaul.

The technique is this… the body position is similar to the second firefighter in the video. Shoulder facing the door, body leaning to the door enough to balance the nozzle reaction force. Pistol grip hooked into hip just under SCBA waist belt. Left forearm leaning hard on nozzle holding into hip. Right hand never letting go of bail. Slowly open nozzle and lean sideways balancing nozzle reaction force. Turn body left or right up or down for aim. Pattern control can be adjusted by rolling the bumper under your forearm as you hold the nozzle in position. Keep in mind this is an automatic fog tip technique and there is no bounce or fast movement, it’s just fill a window or door with 500 gpm and watch the steam pour out of every vent hole within 10 or 15 seconds.
I never had a nozzle teach me anything.... only instructors, how do they teach you... just sayin. It's a tool in the box, doesn't mean you need to use it.
Cory and Tim,

I should clarify more. I like the pistol grip not for actually using it while flowing water, but more for the fact that I use it when I need to get a grip on the hose line while advancing it (not necessairly in a structure). When I flow water I hold the nozzle just like in the video, out in front of me. I generally like my backup man to be about arms length behind me though. Now if we are talking larger than an 1 3/4 then I want him right behind me just like shown. On a side note: Brotherhood instructors is providing a great learning tool and I would like to thank them for that.
We had a decent class lined-up at the Cape May County Training Grounds but unfortunately it was cancelled. Much of the stuff Chris is talking about was exactly what was to be covered. With a combination of a few years in this business, good training oppurtunity by private instructors (such as "Brotherhood"), FDIC, etc, I have been fortunate to learn, and practice tecniques that you won't find in your basic FF1-2-3...100 type classes.

Bottom line is unless you have been exposed to it, you are not going to understand anything other than conventional tactics. Reality is, proper application of extinguishing agent at the correct flow and the oppurtunity to apply it at he right time, in the best possible position is what extinguishes fire. Nozzle techniques improve your ability to advance and apply water/agent with as little difficulty as possible.

Hose-line stretching (and pre-loading), advancing, and nozzle work requires constant training and practice. It's pretty easy to spot the uninitiated. Hose is packed flush, with little thought of having a working lenght minimum with you at the point of entry, pulling from the sides instead of preparing for a straight-forward advance, nobody paying attention to correcting kinks and pinch-points, arbitrary pressure settings (such as those favorite "pre-sets", which everyone seems to set at 125 psi regardless of ANYTHING), and pulling the 1.75' for everything becouse it's preconnected and ingrained in the mind ... all tell-tale signs that very little practice and training has been directed towards engine company BASICS.

Pistol-grips can make make pulling a hose-line off either side difficult as well. Maybe they have their fans. I just see them creating too many poor habits. But again, unless you have been exposed otherwise, your not going to know the difference.

The adjustible nozzle DOES have it's place, and should be part of the inventory of a well-equipped engine company. I just don't see any advantage of them on a 2.5" hose-line. But then again, I still the adjustible / 100psi nozzle used with 1.75" hose on stand-pipe, or "high-rise" kits!

To address Tyler's comments: Sadly Tyler, there are far too many untrained "Instructors" out there as well. For many, it only involves study some material and taking a test, getting a passing score, and then you become an instant expert...an instructor. It is VERY common in some places that these so-called "instructors" have very little practicle experience. It's just like the old popular vote to become an officer in many departments. The tile alone doesn't mean your qualified to teach, or lead. Experience, knowledge, well-rounded trainined, and common-sense HELP make a good instructor. If some local instructors have never demonstarted holding a nozzle bail at arms reach, pinning the hose under your arm, racking it back and forth over your head, sweeping the floor, and advancing in.... it is likely they haven't a clue as to the how's and why's of hose handling and nozzle techniques, right?

Just like in our schools, the fire service has those with a title that have no business teaching anything.

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