I Like My Hose Loads with a Side of Versatility

From fellow Engine House Training instructor and Captain, Steve Heidbreder:


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I Like My Hose Loads With a Side of Versatility

While attending a regional fire school recently, several of us spent the good part of one evening enjoying the Brotherhood and solving all the fire service problems of the world.  At one point the discussion turned to the hose loads used by those at the table.  One of the Brothers stated “I couldn’t care less what type of hose load we use….”  I was slightly taken aback by the statement to say the least.  Could it be that there are firefighters out there that truly don’t care?  Could it be that I care too much about the hose loads carried on my apparatus?IMG_4289

Weeks later I thought back on that conversation and came to realize I DO care about my hose loads.  I care that my Nozzle Firefighter can quickly and effectively make a stretch to any entrance of the building by his or herself.  I routinely respond with a Driver/Operator, a Firefighter, and myself.  We have to make our stretch correctly the first time, every time.  To me, the place to start is with the versatility and usefulness of the hose load.

I started my fire service career 28 years ago.  I began as a snot-nosed 20-year old rookie riding tailboard (yes, really), then in the jumpseat, then as a Driver/Operator and finally the past 17 years as a Company Officer.  I’ve stretched a hose line once or twice in my career.  I’ve also used just about every hose load you can imagine including some that were developed by my department.  It wasn’t until I attended Nozzle Forward and was introduced to the concept of the minute-man load that the light bulb finally went on for me.  This was the first time in 28 years that I found a hose load I felt was truly versatile at making all types of stretches.

IMG_0864IMG_3182IMG_3183One of the biggest strengths of the minute-man load is that the Nozzle Firefighter shoulders at least half of the load.  This allows them the ability to move freely to the point of entry.  Dragging of hose and the tendency of it to become hung-up on obstacles is greatly reduced.  The Nozzle Firefighter is then free to concentrate on looking at the terrain and sizing up the building for anything I might miss.  Once at the point of entry, the nozzle bundle is deployed perpendicular to the entrance and then charged.  With the hose pointing in the door, advancing the hose through the house is easier as the friction points of the door jamb are minimized.  All the excess hose is right outside the door making it easier for the back-up firefighter (me) to feed slack for the IMG_1029Nozzle.  The Nozzle bundle can also be converted into a coil (mimicking a Cleveland Load) in a small area.

Leave no slack behind…… 

Another example of the versatility afforded with the minute-man is the ability of just the Nozzle Firefighter to deploy the line up stairs, down a hallway, or around the back of a structure.  The minute-man also lends itself well to “short-stretching” for those times when you’ve got to manage 200-feet of hose in 50-feet of space.  The Driver/Operator simply stretches the supply bundle opposite of the door to dump the extra hose out of the way.

One final advantage with the minute-man load is the ability to easily extend a line by shouldering the nozzle bundle, disconnecting it from the supply bundle, then adding it to the end of your line for an additional 100-feet of attack line.  We’ll cover extending our lines in another article.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what hose load that you use.  What matters is that you train with it regularly and that you can stretch it effectively at 02:00.  Get out and train.  Train in real settings, not just in front of the station.  Get permission to make stretches at occupancies in your area that will present challenges for you.

Until next time, get out and stretch some lines!


  • Eric Bast says:

    Our department also went the hose load “minuteman “. All the different loads over my 20 plus years this load actually works. Though its.not easy.to.rebed at times due to the way some of our preconceptions are placed it saves time and eliminates the spegetti that usually ends up happenin.

  • Captain Heidbreder, excellent story about the minute-man load and thanks Chief Hoevelmann for sharing. I have used the minute-man load many times in apartment stairwells with great success, especially when you don’t have an open middle to run it straight up. Very user friendly to deploy off shoulder next to outer wall of stairwell, minimizing trip hazards for tired firefighters going up or down with equipment and also safer for evacuating occupants. The quick hotel pack option is also a plus! Good stuff!!

  • Brad Hamilton says:

    Capt. Heidbreder,
    We have adopted the minute man load to the department with a slight change for what we feel is even more versatility. Crews were in a sort of battle between the minute man load and the triple-flat. After what seemed like months of tests and proving the concept, we have found out that we could marry the minute man to the triple flat. Our pumpers have pre-connected trays that are 4 wide. We found that loading 100ft of triple flat then loading 100 feet of minute man helped all parties accept the load. With operating a 3 man pumper, it was more versatile for the nozzle man to be self sufficient for the whole stretch. With most of are residential stretches being short, the triple flat component helps facilitate that approach with a single man deployment.

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