Fire hose, fire hose, and more fire hose!  This weekend was jam packed with pulling hose lines, rolling hose lines and loading fire hose back on the engines.   The weekend was led by Contra Costa County Battalion Chief Keith Cormier and assisted by Alameda Firefighter Thomas Wong, and Cordelia Firefighter Daniel Herrera.

Right from the start, Chief Cormier made it clear to all of us that we should consider him a resource during and after the academy and that we are welcome to contact him for help should we need it.  I thought this was kind and generous, and I appreciate his offering himself as a resource to us.

Following 45 minutes or so of physical training, Chief Cormier had us suit up (full turnout gear) and immediately unload all the hose from 3 fully stocked fire engines.  We then unscrewed every set of couplings from each section of hose and lined them all up along side each other.  Between the LDH (Large Diameter Hose), 2½ inch, and 1¾ inch lines, we must have had thousands of feet of fire hose laid along the training grounds.  The only hose we didn’t spend much time with was the booster (trash) line which is attached to an automatic hose roller.

As with most Saturday/Sunday weekends at the academy, there ends up being so many details that I can’t possibly find the time to write them all into a blog post and so I’ll be supplying a condensed version of the day here.  …until I can catch up and post entries the day they take place.

First we learned multiple ways of coupling and uncoupling hose.   Some of those include the one-person foot-tilt method, the one & two person over-the-hip methods, the knee-press method, and of course the two-person over the hip method.  Just remember to always check for a gasket in the female coupling!  Later in the day, we also had a quick lesson in using spanner wrenches.

Hose Rolls were next and Cormier pointed out the importance of finding a good balance between rolling your hose quickly and rolling it clean.  While neatness is important, don’t be slow – the roll can usually be easily manipulated into a neat condition at the end.  Beginning with the basics, we learned the straight (or storage) roll, then the double and single donut rolls.

The bulk of the days were spent learning and practicing loading the hose onto the engine.  Over and over again, we’d pull all the hose off the engine, take apart all the couplings, lay the hose in even strips alongside itself, roll it up, unroll it, attach the couplings, and load it onto the apparatus.  Overall, we practiced the flat load the most, but we by no means neglected the accordion load, or the horseshoe load or the minuteman (slot) load.  Oh, and the triple layer load.   We did everything but the reverse horseshoe load.

The day was long and very hot.  We drank buckets worth of water and sweat like monkeys.  Nobody got away without a sunburn (but mostly on the face and neck) and everybody got very proficient with fire hose.  Then it was Sunday….

Pump panel of a fire engine

Fire engine pump panel with LDH inlet near bottom right.

Sunday was similar, but Chief Cormier with the assistance of firefighter Gundlach set up various drills for us to run.  This time around rather than just practicing with hose lines, we had situational drills to run through.  In the first one, Gundlach drove the engine with four of us on it up to the hydrant, where two of us would jump out.  The first would pull the LDH off the back, and yell for the engineer to “GO!”.  The other would be prepping the hydrant by removing the cap.  The engine drove off, dragging hose behind it and the two who stayed on would then jump off, open up the engines inlet and attach the LDH to it.   Once done, they’d signal the hydrant guy for water and the hydrant would be slowly opened (open hydrants slowly to avoid water hammers).

At another station, we pulled multiple 1¾” lines from the apparatus, flaked them out and connected them to the engine outlets and/or the wall mounted standpipes on the Confire training tower.

Finally, at the last drill, we practiced running lengths of hose from to 150 feet from the engine.  Embarrassing as could be, I tripped as I pulled my sections from the compartment slots and went down right in front of Chief Cormier.  According to the other guys, I was back on my feet in no time, but to me it felt like I was laying on the ground for an hour.   Not a big deal really, but it felt like it nonetheless.

Overall, it was a long informative, hot weekend.  Still, it was a lot of fun and I think everybody got a lot out of it.