Early in my career the fire scene felt like a chaotic place. Every fire looked different and offered unique challenges. As I developed more skills and learned more about incident management and fire attack concepts I realized that the vast majority of the fires we respond to are much more similar than they are different. In order to more effectively evaluate the engine company and the types of attacks we perform let us take a look at 5 fundamental plays for the Engine Company.
1. The Pre-Connected Attack
The Pre-Connected Attack is the most used line on our Engines. This line is a predetermined length and size hose-line that is connected to a discharge. Most of the time these lines are setup for your department's most common occupancy types. The most common pre-connected attack line I see is the 200' 1.75" hand-line. The pre-connected attack line offers many advantages including a predetermined flow requirement and length. The pre-connected line provides firefighters with a quick solution for the majority of fires they will fight. However, the pre-connected line can also develop bad habits. Many firefighters pull the pre-connect on every fire regardless if the fire is large or more complex.
2. The Extended Attack
The extended attack is something every engine should have the ability to perform. In the simplest form, the extended attack is simply for attacking fires that are out of reach of your pre-connected lines. The extended attack is very good for long set-backs, apartment complexes, narrow alleys, and providing you with a flexible solution for a multitude of fires.
3. The Big Line
The big line is for fires with heavier fire loads. This style of attack comes typically in the form of a 2.5" hand-line. This attack method increases the flow rate for fires with more energy.
4. The Blitz Attack
A blitz attack can be defined in two different ways. In some parts of the country a blitz attack would be a 2.5" hand-line but in others it may be a rapid attack style monitor. Regardless of the tool used, this method is designed to "Blitz" a fire with a lot of water during the initial stages of fire attack. Many crews will perform a blitz attack with larger lines and then transition to smaller attack lines like the 1.75".
5. The Master Stream Attack
Often viewed as a defensive operation, the master stream attack is for throwing a lot of water at a fire very quickly. This method of fire attack works really well for building that have a detached section with heavy fire. For example, a detached garage may produce a tremendous amount of heat energy that a smaller attack line simply cannot handle. A master stream can flow around 500 gallons of water at a fire in only 30 seconds. This can knock down a lot of heat energy for you to transition to your smaller attack lines. Detroit performs this attack method very often and they refer to it as "dumping the monitor".
Take a look at the video and evaluate your ability as an engine company to perform these styles of fire attack. This is a great time to sit with your crew and discuss your ability to perform these plays.