Tactical Safety for Firefighters
By Ray McCormack
Charge – Bleed – Attack
These are the three last steps you take as an engine company on your way to fire extinguishment. That is the order – NOT attack, charge, bleed.
You charge your hoseline, you bleed the excess entrained air from the line and you attack the fire.
Charging the line is more than pulling a handle. It involves knowing what size line has been pulled and how much hose has been stretched and the type of nozzle being used. Those are the big numbers that the pump operator must calculate so that your hoseline has the correct pressure. Elevation and target flow requirements finish off the equation.
Bleeding a hoseline is a step you should take seriously. The amount of flow is measured at this step. Remember that this step should be a solo act as your backup may be busy finishing off the stretch and pulling a kink free while you’re setting any pattern and noting the breakover point. This step also tells you that the many parts involved in giving you extinguishment power over the fire are present and provides the visual proof of your attack stream.
Attack is fire attack – the last of the three components and built upon Charge and Bleed. This is the moment of truth for all fire departments. Can you extinguish the fire? You may or may not be successful with the extinguishment; however, if you consistently take the time to build it correctly, you are on the right path. Many nozzle teams get the preparation wrong and are often lucky to get attack done, but for those that build a solid foundation, attack success will come more often. Attack doesn’t vary much from the streets of New York to the suburbs of California. It is the determination and talent of that nozzle team that makes it happen. Preparation before push off is also a talent.
Not all firefighters are equal. Some rush the details and then shake their heads when it doesn’t work out. When it’s your turn, take the steps that lead to enhanced extinguishment capability and improved tactical safety.
Keep Fire in Your Life
Photo by Robert Mitts