Choosing Hose Loads with Multiple Options for Your Rural Fire Apparatus

Second firefighter deploys the flying standpipe just like the crosslay.
Firefighter “bear hugs” the hose on left or right shoulder.

By Bill Adkins

When choosing what hose loads to place on your rural fire apparatus, you may want to consider what’s easy for everyone to pull, flake out, and reload. In rural communities, we may not have the time and resources to train, not only all of our members but the neighboring jurisdictions’ members as well. Just because it may be easy doesn’t mean you have to give up versatility. This article is intended to share some of my experiences with hose loads that are easy to deploy, reload, and are still versatile to more than one option for those odd ball incidents.

Firefighter steps back with opposite foot to flip hose on shoulder. This allows the nozzle to rest at bottom and the hose to flake off the top.
If extending off a flying standpipe, the operator can disconnect the crosslay to be carried hundreds of feet away from the apparatus.

Crosslays are usually our bread-and-butter deployment option. There are so many good options for our crosslays. Triple layer, minute man, modified minute man, flat load, etc. Again, the key is to have what will work for every scenario you can imagine. Whether you use 100’, 150’, or 200’ crosslays you will want to load these the same way every time. No matter what hose load we choose, when we show up to that next fire, we will want it to pull off easily and without getting tangled up.

The operator places the end of the hose on the shoulder of the deploying firefighter.
2 1/2 hose or 3 inch hose for attack or flying standpipe off the rear of the truck. Loops every 100′.

In my experience with crosslays, I keep it simple for all firefighters on the fireground. This is why I choose the flat load. Now before you get upset with me, hear me out. It’s not just a flat load, but it’s how you set up your flat load that makes the difference. For this scenario I’m going with a 200’ crosslay that can be modified if the crosslays are different lengths. I start with loading the first 50’ in the bed. After the first 50’ coupling is down I place a small “hand loop” on both sides of the apparatus. Then continue loading the hose until the 100’ coupling is in the bed. Then place larger loops on both sides (note: these loops are about 18 to 24 inches long and you will need loops on all rows of your crosslay. If your crosslay is 2 rows wide, you will need 2 loops on each side of the apparatus). After all loops are made, we continue with our flat load until we get to the nozzle. The nozzle stays in the middle of the lay so it is accessible from both sides of the apparatus.

Small hand loop at 50′ mark to assist in deploying hose out of the bed.
Crosslay with loops out ready for deployment.

Deploying the flat load crosslay consists of pulling the two larger loops down to where you can “bear hug” the hose. Bear hug the hose to either the left or right shoulder. If I bear hug the hose on my left shoulder I will step back with my right foot and turn away from the vehicle. This flips the hose on my shoulder with the nozzle on the bottom (now if the hose needs to flake off, it will flake off from the top just like the minute man load). Again, the hose is on my left shoulder, now I will reach back with my right hand and grab the small hand loop and walk towards my targeted area. By grabbing the small hand loop, we are able to ensure we clear all the hose out of the crosslay bed. Once all the hose is out of the bed, we can let go of the hand loop and continue to our target area.

Gated wye attached to 3 inch hose for flying standpipe. (Great for fires where the apparatus can’t get close to the incident).
First firefighter deploys the flying standpipe just like the crosslay. Steps forward 2 steps and awaits for next firefighter to get the next 100′.

Do you like the triple-layer hose load? A second way to deploy the flat load crosslay is to place your arm through the larger loops, grab the nozzle, and walk towards your target area as if you were deploying the triple layer. Another option when deploying the flat load crosslay is adding it to your flying stand pipe. Remember when loading the crosslay we made sure the 100’ coupling was in the bed before we started our loops? This allows us to use the crosslay for extending from a flying standpipe. After placing the crosslay on our shoulde, the coupling will be directly behind you. This allows for the operator or partner to disconnect from the crosslay. Now you have a hose pack on your shoulder to use hundreds of feet away from the apparatus if needed.

Second firefighter deploys the flying standpipe just like the crosslay.
Both firefighters walk in line to deploy hose around objects and to the target area.

Bumper Load
The bumper load usually consistd of shorter sections of hose for smaller fires such as vehicle, dumpster, small wildland, etc. When we loaded the crosslays, we loaded them with the flat load. So, why not continue with the bumper load? With all the hose connected. I load the bumper with half of its hose and set the hose or coupling aside. Then I continue with loading the rest of the hose. I place the middle of the hose next to the coupling. When I deploy the bumper load, I grab the nozzle and the middle section and walk toward my target area. All the hose will be flaked out and ready for water.

Both firefighters walk in line to deploy hose around objects and to the target area.

Rear Hose Loads
Usually our rear hose loads are for our more complex incidents. I tend to set up our rear hose loads with a 2½” attack hose load and a flying stand pipe (with a gated wye or similar appliance). The size of the hosebed on your apparatus determines how much hose you use for your hose load. For this article, I will say you are able to use 400’ for each load. Keeping our hose loads pretty much the same, I continue with the flat load on the rear as well. When loading the hose, I will put large loops (18 to 24 inches) every 100’. Remember to add the loops after the 100’ coupling is in the bed. This allows us to easily break it apart if we don’t need the full 400’.

When the hose is flaked off the last firefighters shoulder they will notify the firefighter in front of them to start flaking off their hose.

When deploying the hose, we will use the technique we used on the crosslays. Each firefighter is responsible for 100’ if staffing permits. When the first firefighter has his 100’ on his shoulder, he will step forward 2 steps to allow the second firefighter to shoulder the next 100’. This process is repeated until all hose needed is deployed. Once all firefighters have the needed hose, they will walk in line with each other with the last firefighter flaking off their hose first. When they are finished with their hose they will step on the hose and inform the next firefighter to flake off their hose. This process will be repeated until all hose is deployed.

Final Thoughts
Science has proven that fast water on the fire gives our customers the best chance for survival. No matter what hose loads you decide to go with, its important to train your crews to be proficient with hose deployments. The above is only an example of what I use. It’s been my experience that these hose loads work great no matter the experience level of the deployment firefighter. Other hose loads may pull easier, however reloading usually takes longer, and if all firefighters don’t know how to reload them, it may become a chore. One more important thing to remember: Load it correctly now so we are prepared for what could be the next big one!

BILL ADKINS is a captain with the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department Training Division/Maintenance Division.

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