Engine Company Drills in Review
By Dan Curran on November 10, 2014
Last week we posted the final of the six articles in the Engine Company Drills series. We covered the forward lay, the reverse lay, a drill for securing two water supplies, the use of a gated wye, drafting and finally using a portable water supply. These six training scenarios provide a solid foundation upon which your fire attack can be based.
Your fire department should practice these evolutions at least annually to ensure that they are performing these basics to the best of their abilities. Even those drills which your department may seldom perform should be practiced regularly. Infrequently encountered incidents are those which present the highest hazards for your fire department.
Let's take another look at the engine company drills and review scenarios where they could be used.
The Forward Lay
The forward lay tends to be the primary means of setting up for a fire attack. This is the method that you use when your company turns the corner and you see smoke from the eaves, or fire coming from a second floor window. When presented with a situation where you are going into an active fire scene and your second due engine will not arrive before you exhaust your tank supply, you will want to use the forward lay.
As your company approaches the fire scene, you want to keep your eyes open for a hydrant. Stop the engine at the hydrant. Have your hydrant person exit the fire engine, grab the supply line(s), wrap the hydrant, and start hooking up to the hydrant. Once the hydrant is wrapped your engine should continue into the fire scene, setup to pump, and deploy your hand lines for a fire attack.
The Reverse Lay
The reverse lay is most often used by the second arriving engine company. Knowing your district and the order in which units will arrive on scene will allow you to mentally prepare for the job required of your engine company.
As the second due company your first responsibility is ensuring that the base pumper has an adequate water supply. When pulling into the fire ground you will want to pay attention to apparatus and hydrant locations. You may need to back your engine down to the base pumper, or you may be able to pull past the base pumper.
It is imperative that you take the time to size up the situation before you commit your fire apparatus. You do not want to get into a situation which requires hand jacking 400’ of supply line to a hydrant because your apparatus was blocked in.
Two Engines, Two Hydrants
The two engine company drill is practiced is to make sure that two engine companies can operate independently to get attack and backup lines into operation.
The Gated Wye
The gated wye scenario allows you to use a single supply line to feed two smaller attack lines.
When you need to cover long distances to reach a fire, your best approach may be to stretch a large supply line with a gated wye. This approach helps to decrease friction loss to ensure adequate pressure is available at the nozzles.
Drafting with Two Engines
Drafting is skill that will allow you to get water into the engine when a more conventional hydrant system is not available. Drafting is used in rural areas without a conventional hydrant network, parks, or where water lines have been damaged making hydrants unavailable.
Pre-incident planning and district knowledge is very important when it comes to drafting. Your engine company should know when en-route to an incident if drafting is going to be required. You should also know where drafting sources are located, and if a relay operation will be required in order to get water to the base pumper.
Drafting is a more involved take than connecting to a hydrant. The pump operator must, in addition to other responsibilities, monitor the suction to ensure vacuum is maintained. The hard suction hose strainer must be frequently checked to ensure it is free from debris, and that it is deep enough in the water supply.
Portable Water Supply
Using a portable water supply is the last of our evolutions. This is a time and personnel intensive scenario.
Much like drafting, you should ensure that your crews have good knowledge of their districts. All arriving units should know when dispatched to a location that a portable water source will be required, and where your water supply companies must go to get more water.
Positioning of apparatus is paramount in this situations,. You must ensure that access and egress to the fire scene is maintained for your water supply companies.
We hope that you have found the Engine Company Drills useful. Mastery of these engine company skills is imperative in order to be prepared for the many different incidents you may encounter.
Engine Company Drill Series
- Engine Company Drill #1: Forward Lay
- Engine Company Drill #2: Reverse Lay
- Engine Company Drill #3: Two Engines, Two Hydrants
- Engine Company Drill #4: The Gated Wye
- Engine Company Drill #5: Drafting with Two Engines
- Engine Company Drill #6: Portable Water Supply
engine company drill