Continuing on with our “Alternative Hose Line Stretches” series in this installment we will be covering the “Well Hole” Stretch. *Disclaimer* The pictures in this post are not mine they were taken from an article from Fire Engineering.
Well Hole Stretch:
The “Well Hole” is the void space in between the banisters on a U return stair case. This area can be used to stretch initial attack lines to upper floors of an occupancy.
The first thing you must do prior to executing a well hole stretch is to assess the size of the well hole. Typically if the space is big enough to fit your fist while wearing fire gloves it will be big enough to support 1 medium caliber attack line (1 3/4). Larger well holes can support high-caliber hand lines (2 1/2) or supply lines (3 inch), or multiple medium caliber lines.
Once the size has been assessed you have to determine how you are going to stretch the line. You usually have 2 options, either by hand or by rope. Usually hand stretching the line is the way to go, as deploying the rope would involve a fireman walking to the target floor than deploying the rope. Well if you are walking to the target floor why not take the hose with you.
The rope stretch however is highly valuable if while in an investigative mode with out a hose line on the target floor and it is discovered that a line needs to be deployed. Instead of walking down to get the line lowering the rope in the well hole and having someone stretch to the rope and connect it will save valuable time. Remember just like with the exterior rope stretch lower the rope down versus dropping the bag. This way you can navigate it around obstacles and it is not a flying object waiting to hit an unsuspecting fireman.
Once the line is stretched just like the exterior rope stretch you have to ensure that enough hose is on the target floor, and you have to secure the line to a substantial object in order to prevent the charged line from falling back to the starting point.
The well hole stretch has several benefits:
1. Takes less hose to complete the stretch
2. Keeps Stairs Clear
3. Faster that stretching around the stairs
While these benefits are great like anything else there is give and take. You have to have good building knowledge, good physical fitness, additional tools (something to secure hose with, rope for rope stretch), and coordination with your entire crew to make this evolution work.
Also beware stretching more than one line in the well hole. While it can be done, you have to take great care when stretching the second line as the chance for it to wrap around the original line is high. When this happens all you will have is a 180-325 GPM barber pole (depending on the size of the hose line you used).
The Well Hole Stretch can be a highly usable option in the right circumstances, the only way to add it to your repertoire is get out in your district, and train on it.
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As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!