“We Can’t F–K Around” Running the Big Lines at Queens Apartment Fire


So he cursed; the big deal is he had them go big. Will you?



“51 to Command.”

“Command, go.”

“51 to Command, they’re hittin’ the fire in the original building, in the cockloft, but we’ve got fire spreading towards the Exposure four side, I’m gonna try and open up another hole, and we may need another line to the top floor but this time make it a two-and-a-half, no more inch-and-three-quarter, we can’t f–k around.”



It happens. A developing situation leads to an urgency in actions and communications in order to make the recipient understand the value of what is being ordered. The Chief of the 51st Battalion in Queens, New York, requested engine companies begin running the 2 1/2-inch handlines during a fire in a four-story apartment building. The fire had made its way into the cockloft and began to threaten the exposures. Audio above is from the fire where you can’t get anymore plain about a shift in engine company operations.


Go Big or Go Home

The old saying, “big fire equals big water” is cute but in the educational byproduct that is social media, it gets lost by the majority in two ways. One, the complaint about lack of staffing shuts down the option of using a 2 1/2-inch hoseline. Two, the inappropriate use of the term “aggressive firefighting” makes the selection unpopular among other shortsighted peers.

The disciplined engine company will always be aggressive no matter what the weapon. Discuss how well your crew is adapt at running the big line after reviewing these articles from FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation and Fire Engineering. Then get out out and put some hose on the street.

It’s Christmas Eve? Oh, well, maybe fires take holidays. Who are you kidding? Quit f—–g around.






“Using the 2½” Line” Kirby and Lakamp, FireRescue Magazine, October 2011
“Alternative Engine Company Tactics” Kirby, Lakamp, FireRescue Magazine, August 2013
“Building Familiarity on Large Handlines” Jakubowski, FireRescue Magazine, February 2008
“High-gpm Water Delivery Scenarios” Kirby, Lakamp, FireRescue Magazine, August 2012
Video: Handling the 2-1/2” Line, FirefighterNation.com






“Firefighting Engine Company Operations: Elephant Hunting with a BB Gun?” Shapiro, Fire Engineering, March 2014
“Blitz Attack or Rapid Defense?”, Brush, Fire Engineering, March 2014
“Suburban Fire Department, Urban Mentality: The Fast-Attack Engine Company”, Stein, Fire Engineering October 2012
“Drills: Engine Company Work”, Fire Engineering
FE Talk: Engine Company Operations, Fire Engineering


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BioPicBill Carey is the online public safety news and blog manager with PennWell Public Safety, or more specifically FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation.com, JEMS.com, LawOfficer.com and FireEMSBlogs.com. Bill started in the fire service, as a third generation firefighter in 1986, on the eastern shore of Maryland and then continued after moving to Prince George’s County. He served as a volunteer sergeant and lieutenant at Hyattsville. Bill’s writing has been on Firehouse.com, Fire Engineering, FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation.com, the Jones and Bartlett 2010 edition of “Fire Officer: Principles and Practice”, The Secret List and Tinhelmet.com. His recent writing on firefighter behavioral health has been nominated for 2014 Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Series.


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1 Comment

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    My Engine company was once third due to a fire in an apartment building ( we had been at another incident when the fire happened). We pulled up on scene and the first and second due engines had 1.75″ lines inside and were not making any real headway. I told the pump operator of the first due company that we were pulling a deuce and half with a 1.25 inch smoothbore into the building. We made the fire floor, had the pump operator charge the line, went in and knocked down the fire that the 2 previous lines were trying to put out. We pulled the line back down and allowed them to do the mop up and overhaul.

    It is our “Pavlovian response” to the fire that makes us stretch the easiest line to extinguish the fire. While this is appropriate for most room and contents fires, it is this mentality that tends to get us behind the 8 ball when the fire is larger. In most suburban FD’s, Engine companies only run with an officer and 2 firefighters. Companies have to practice getting the big line into operation.

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