When arriving as the second engine company on a working fire, besides laying a second supply line, you will obviously have to stretch a second handline too. The question for most officers is “which” handline should we pull? For some companies, the question seems to be “whose” handline should we pull?
Those officers are the ones who, for some odd reason, like to pull the second handline off of the first engine. Those officers will often say that by doing this, they have less to pick up after the fire, thus getting them ready for the next one. If you have this mindset, then you are focusing on the wrong fire! The only fire you should be worried about is the one you are pulling up on.
Here are some things to consider. To make an effective stretch, and an effective attack, there are two things that a good officer, and engine company, will want to know ahead of time:
- How many feet of hose do I need to get me there?
- What nozzle do I need for the best attack?
If you’re an officer who likes to pull your line off the other engine, then you will get this information seconds before you begin your attack. If the officer of the first engine decided that he needed 200’ to reach the fire, then guess what…if he was right, then you will get 150’, and likely won’t be able to get to the fire to back them up.
Another thing to consider is if the nozzles on the other engine have been maintained. If you are in a busy company, then your hose and nozzles likely get exercised enough that you know if they are working properly. Can you say this for sure about the companies you are running with? What if the pipe you pulled off the other company has a nozzle with a badly broken stream. Maybe it has a rock in it from the last fire. Maybe the bale is broken. Once again, this is not the time to find out.
One more thing to consider. NEVER pull a second handline smaller than the first handline. In other words, if the first-in officer felt that the fire would require at least one “big water” line, then by pulling a 1 ¾” handline, you have second guessed that officer, changed the game plan, and possibly the outcome of the fire.
And remember, most engines only carry one 2 ½” handline, so, as with all handlines…BRING YOUR OWN!