Fire Ground
Written by Mark van der Feyst
I have been looking at the mayday function of firefighter survival in the past few issues and how important it is to the survivability of each firefighter.
Written by Lance Bushie
In previous articles, I have discussed the need for live-fire training and given readers a deeper understanding of what heat is. In this article, I will delve into the interactions of steam and how it interacts with fire extinguishment and can cause burns to a firefighter.
Written by Grant Cameron
Registration is now open for the 2018 Firefighter Training Day being held Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 at the GTAA Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) at 2025 Courtneypark Drive East in Toronto.

The day-long program gives volunteer, part-time and full-time firefighters the opportunity to expand their training and enhance their skills.

Active members of volunteer/career fire departments are welcome to participate (with their chief’s approval). Training is free.

The event is sponsored by FESTI, Fort Garry Fire Trucks, FLIR, Canadian Firefighter and Fire Fighting in Canada.

Click here for the website.

Click here for the registration page.


Written by Mark Van der Feyst
Whenever a mayday is called, it is for an emergency that requires help. The hope of the caller is that when the message is received by another person, help will be sent or given. In the fire service we use this term as a way for the firefighter to call for help.
Written by Tim Llewellyn
It was a brisk morning in early spring when a conscientious jogger happened to run past a home where the smoke alarm was sounding. Through the early morning mist, he could hear the telltale beeping that signalled trouble.
Written by Lance Bushie
Firefighters must understand what heat is and different heat phenomenon like heat flux and heat release rates to understand how to stay safe. In the past five years, new research has changed how firefighters think about fire growth, spread and extinguishment.
Written by Mark van der Feyst
In the January issue of Canadian Firefighter, and part 3 of this series, we looked at taking the necessary action step of orientation. Now, we are going to look at the second action step, which is communication. Communication allows the incident commander (IC) to address the rescue situation as well provide the rapid intervention team (RIT) with the information they need to successfully rescue the firefighter.
Written by David Moseley
Sometimes we need to be taught a lesson or two, and sometimes the crucible of fire does just that. It’s long been said in the fire service that we should learn something from every call we attend. One memorable fire in particular taught me several valuable lessons I needed – this is what I learned from getting burned.
Written by Mark van der Feyst
When  firefighters call for a mayday, they are informing everybody that they need help. Whatever the situation may be, they are in need of assistance and the first step is to call a mayday.
Written by Mark Van der Feyst
My series on firefighter survival (see part 1, Canadian Firefighter, July 2017) focuses on the mayday call. A mayday call is for firefighters only, never for patients or for any other fire-ground emergency. When a mayday is called, everyone on scene knows a firefighter needs help.
Written by Tim Llewellyn
In each edition of Tim-bits, I select a topic or technique that was introduced in recruit academies and became engrained as fire-service doctrine, then offer a field-tested and street-smart modification to make the practice easier, safer or more effective.
Written by Mark van der Feyst
In the last few issues, we have built a foundation of key firefighter survival skills and an understanding of the importance of having these skills. We will now build upon that foundation with some integral survival strategies, beginning with mayday calls.
Written by Tim Llewellyn
As the first-due engine company responds swiftly to a confirmed bedroom fire, the company officer in the right, front seat scans the GIS map on the engine’s iPad for locations of nearby fire hydrants. The company officer finds that the best hydrant is six houses past the incident address, and the second-best hydrant is a block before the incident, but is on the opposite side of the street.
The company officer knows that a charged, large-diameter supply hose snaking up the street will likely block access to the next-arriving companies, so she ranked that hydrant second. As the engine approaches the second-ranked hydrant, the officer shouts to the emergency-vehicle operator: “You’re going to hit the hydrant up there, past the address. Stop in front of the house, we’ll drop our leader line and two attack bundles. Reverse lay the leader line to the hydrant. Send water as soon as you get it, don’t wait for us to call for it!” The operator nods and sails past the first-encountered hydrant. 

As soon as the air brakes are set in front of the burning house, the company officer and her two firefighters disembark the engine, retrieve their assigned hand tools and both ladders and drop them all in the front yard. The officer heads to the rear hose bed and pulls the leader-line bundle down to the street, while each firefighter shoulders and disconnects the top two sections of both of the engine’s mid-mount minuteman, crosslay hose loads. Once the  firefighters are clear of the engine, the company offer kneels on the leader-line bundle and shouts for her driver to begin the reverse lay toward the hydrant. 

The situation in this story occurs all too often, but based on my knowledge gained from instructing locally and internationally, the decisions made and the actions performed by the company officer are rare. Firefighters, as creatures of habit, think securing a water supply means laying our supply hose from the hydrant and driving the fire engine toward the fire – a forward lay. Leader-line reverse lays are taught in recruit academies, but are rarely put to use and seldom trained on (and only if the fire engine is equipped to perform them). I’ve even witnessed a well-equipped fire engine drive past the fire, perform no fewer than six three-point turns on a single-lane road, just to turn around and perform a forward lay from the hydrant to the fire. A reverse lay with a leader line would have sent water to the fire much faster.

A leader line is a dead load of 77-millimetre (three-inch) hose packed flat-load style in a hose bed from the female coupling. Typically, the hose in the bed will be no less than six lengths, and will terminate on top at the last male coupling with a water thief or other gated, reducing wye. A leader line’s function is to extend a larger diameter hoseline further than would be practical to stretch smaller lines, and then attach smaller attack lines to the appliance on the end. As much hose as needed is removed, and the line is then broken and attached to a side or rear discharge for supply. 

We have devised a unique way of packing our leader lines that enable an effective reverse-lay operation, or simply extend our attack lines further from the truck than our pre-connected hoses will allow. The idea is to form a bundle of 77-mm hose that contains one length and a water thief. Our members use a 1.8-metre (six-foot) piece of old large-diameter supply hose to form the base of the bundle; we purchased some cheap utility straps and pass them through the width of the large-diameter hose at several spots to hold the bundled section of hose and the appliance. The purpose of the large-diameter hose base is to ensure the bundle stays packed together neatly and to enable an easier removal from the hose bed with less friction. We also attach a rope pull handle on the bed end to make retrieval easier. 

Our district has a lot of properties with deep setbacks, so it is imperative that the water thief makes it well into the front yard, if not just short of the front door. Our practice of removing the top sections of our minuteman pre-connects gives us just 30 metres (100 feet) of working hose length and the nozzle – a water thief in the street is useless as the majority of our attack hose will be laying in the yard. The one-section leader-line bundle can be dropped and unstrapped in the street, and advanced one full length toward the structure; this helps to ensure that the firefighters will have almost all of the attack hose length at their disposal for use inside the structure. 

Our version of the leader-line bundle works well for our department and has proven to be a versatile tool. Give it a try – it might be a fit for your department. Now get out there and practise with your leader lines!


Tim Llewellyn is a firefighter for the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, Pa., and an instructor for a number of fire academies and training faculties.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Written by Mark Van der Feyst
Peer pressure is present in every fire station and can contribute to dangerous situations.
Written by Mark Van der Feyst
For the past eight years, this column has explored the rapid intervention team (RIT) and the many aspects of that important fire-ground assignment. As we begin a new year, I want to turn our attention from rescuing other firefighters to rescuing ourselves.
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