To lay in or not. That is the question we always hear during our coaching sessions. The answer is a simple yes, well most of the time……. let me explain.
Establishing a water supply is critical for any working fire. In the fire simulation portion of the assessment center, it is often a critical failure for those who forget. Why is this the case? It’s simple, running out of water on a fire because the officer “forgot” to establish a water supply is inexcusable. How would you feel if your parent’s house caught on fire and the local fire department ran out of water?
So, to avoid the danger of running out of water, it is advisable for the first due engine to anchor to a hydrant. While that’s the simple reason, it goes much deeper than that. Let’s examine the OSHA CFR 1710 regulations. They state that you must establish two out and you must form an attack team of at least two people; – two members must remain outside of the structure when anyone enters an IDLH. Additionally, an entry team must consist of at least two members.
This is the federal law (and your department policy). If you are assigned to a three-person engine company, there is no way that you can legally make entry until another company arrives on scene. Since you cannot make entry, we recommend using your time wisely and establishing a water supply.
If your incident action plan (IAP) includes having the second due engine bring you water, you are delaying making entry into the structure. Assigning the second due engine to bring you a line will take at least a couple of minutes to accomplish. Since fire doubles every minute, the fire that you encountered on your initial arrival is now significantly larger. Time is of the essence!
Things are different with a 4-person engine company. It is possible to make entry with the first due engine and still establish two out. Remember though, CFR 2910 does not permit both the IC and the pump operator to function as two out. To comply, the most common deployment has the officer and a firefighter making a two-person attack team while the pump operator and the second firefighter remain outside and form the two out.
We would not recommend laying in if there is a confirmed rescue. In these instances, the two out may be suspended until the rescue has been made. In this instance, we do not recommend laying in as time is of the essence and every second counts. Most engines have at least 500 gallons of water. The IAP would include pulling a line to search for victims and using tank water until another engine could bring water to you.
· Follow your department policy regarding water supply – policies range from requiring the first due engine to lay in whenever smoke is showing to having the second due engine laying to the first.
· Confirmed rescue is defined as credible information that there is a person trapped. A car in the driveway or an illuminate porch light does NOT constitute a rescue exception.
· Water supply becomes much easier if the driver is able to hand jack a line to the nearest hydrant.