Tactical Safety for Firefighters:Charge – Bleed – Attack

 

By Ray McCormack
UFMRobertMittsPhoto

These are the three last steps you take as an engine company on your way to fire extinguishment. That is the order – NOT attack, charge, bleed.

You charge your hoseline, you bleed the excess entrained air from the line and you attack the fire.

Charging the line is more than pulling a handle. It involves knowing what size line has been pulled and how much hose has been stretched and the type of nozzle being used. Those are the big numbers that the pump operator must calculate so that your hoseline has the correct pressure. Elevation and target flow requirements finish off the equation.

Bleeding a hoseline is a step you should take seriously. The amount of flow is measured at this step. Remember that this step should be a solo act as your backup may be busy finishing off the stretch and pulling a kink free while you're setting any pattern and noting the breakover point. This step also tells you that the many parts involved in giving you extinguishment power over the fire are present and provides the visual proof of your attack stream.

Attack is fire attack – the last of the three components and built upon Charge and Bleed. This is the moment of truth for all fire departments. Can you extinguish the fire? You may or may not be successful with the extinguishment; however, if you consistently take the time to build it correctly, you are on the right path. Many nozzle teams get the preparation wrong and are often lucky to get attack done, but for those that build a solid foundation, attack success will come more often. Attack doesn't vary much from the streets of New York to the suburbs of California. It is the determination and talent of that nozzle team that makes it happen. Preparation before push off is also a talent.

Not all firefighters are equal. Some rush the details and then shake their heads when it doesn't work out. When it's your turn, take the steps that lead to enhanced extinguishment capability and improved tactical safety.
Keep Fire in Your Life

Photo by Robert Mitts

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3 Comments

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    I can sum up a review of Ray's article in one word…

    Word.

  • Artie B says:

    The word bleed needs to be changed. Too many think it is just a matter of bleeding air instead of insuring a MAINTAINED flow of water. Too many times has a nozzleman done a quick bleed only to lose water the moment the door got popped. Maybe:
    CHARGE, FLOW, ATTACK

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    I can see Artie's point… maybe th3 sequence should be as follows

    Charge the linem=, bleed the air, flow the water then attack.

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Comments
Ron Ayotte
“FEAR” by Ric Jorge
Ric, excellent article. Your FD is not the only one that suffers from TAS (Training Anxiety Syndrome). Same circus, different community. As far as seeking help from an EAP, I did take advantage of my community's EAP 8 years into my career. I was heading down the road to a separation/divorce after I got promoted…
2014-12-04 16:04:47
Mike McAdams
Who Looks After The Victims?
Captain LeBlanc, Great point in the blog debating the new and old techniques and how to blend them into that first minutes on the fire ground. One of the first points stated was “Unless they know your manpower, resources and abilities, and are standing in that front lawn at 2:00 a.m., all they can do…
2014-12-02 14:45:23
Ruel Douvillier
Who Looks After The Victims?
I suspect these new tactics are all related to the NFPA standard that came out a few years ago recommending higher manpower on apparatus than the authorities having jurisdiction were prepared to implement. For the 30+ years that I've been fighting fires, UL and NIST have been using the data that they gained by setting…
2014-12-02 11:48:44
Joseph carroll
Who Looks After The Victims?
I work in a dept with 2 man Engine cos, man powers is an issue with our first due assignment. (3 engs,2 Trks , Batt Chief). Usually 13 Firefighters on the assignment. At times the exterior attack has no option, heavy fire too include exposures etc. some new leaders feel that this exterior attack is…
2014-12-01 19:05:51
Brian
Who Looks After The Victims?
Am I missing the old SSLEEVES-OCD pneumonic??? seems that one. It addressed alot of the things we have to think of, and the new Slicers is something that I think in right circumstances and construction would make sense, but at other times might be completely useless. I have watched and read alot of the NIST…
2014-12-01 02:10:06
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