Shoot Your Way Clear
Here in Germany you would be scolded for spraying around too much during an interior attack, but other countries have a completely different approach. While visiting a US firefighter website, I came across “The Bounce,” a technique where the troops clear the way with their hose during an interior attack.
I’ll admit it, when I saw the video for the first time, I thought to myself, “What a crock.” However, you shouldn’t always be so quick to judge, but rather give some thought to how you could use “foreign” techniques yourself. I’m talking about the short training video The Bounce, which was posted on the US webpage fireengineering.com. As the short training film is in English, I have summed up the most important points: The idea behind “The Bounce” is to clear the path of embers and fire debris during an interior attack as there is the danger of damaging one’s protective clothing or of a firefighter being injured. Essentially, “The Bounce” is the beating of a jet of water on the ground directly in front of the nozzleman because, as the trainer points out, firefighters oftentimes make the mistake of only spraying away the materials that are a little bit further away and not what is lying directly in front of them.
So, naturally, I thought of 1,000 different things that I don’t find very appealing about this technique. But then, “oh no,” I remembered an interior attack where The Bounce could have been applied and been quite useful, if I had known about it at the time.
A couple of years ago, there was a fire that spread throughout several stories of a wood-framed house. Our troops advanced via a porch roof to the second floor and onto the balcony and worked their way through a completely burnt-out room. In this room we had no visibility, a lot of heat and, in the distance, could see a reddish glow of flames. We then slowly made our way through the room, and I can still clearly remember how we crawled on an uneven surface, which kind of feels like crawling on a hilly field. So this stuff we were kneeling on was the leftovers of the indoor furnishing. A lot of it was made of wood, so there was quite a bit. At some point, my shins and knees (back then in Bavaria, single-layer pants were still “in”) got really hot, even though I was wearing thick jeans underneath. This all led to us at some point standing up while still hunched over, as it was just too hot on the floor. That, precisely, is the wrong thing to do in such a difficult situation. But you really just do what’s less painful first, and this happened to be the way to the top.
This is a perfect example of the type of scenario where The Bounce could have been applied. I, for one, can’t think of an alternative that is equally as fast and efficient. Pushing materials away with the ax is certainly more involved.
Advantages and Disadvantages of “The Bounce“
Here is a chart that lists advantages and disadvantages of this technique:
One reason in particular that I don’t think this technique is used as much in Germany is that we rarely have fires in wood-framed houses where the floor is covered in fire debris. Due to the many wood-framed houses in North America, a massive spread of fire, where the attack troops have to advance through burnt-out rooms, happens much more frequently. In addition, in the U.S. there is oftentimes a total loss of the house; in Germany, a building burning down completely is not very common; water damage is, therefore, taken much more seriously here.
How the “Bounce” technique works
Although the video doesn’t get into specifics, from what we can see, the technique can be broken up into the following steps:
- Shoot the ceiling using a full water jet and circular motion in order to loosen materials that are hanging down so they’ll fall off (approx. 4x)
- Use the windshield wiper technique on the ground in order to Shoot away the debris (2x left right movement)
- Shoot the full water jet directly in front of you on the floor (2x)
- Advance further into the room
“The Bounce” is certainly not a technique that has to be used every day and practiced a lot, but if you keep this approach in the back of your mind and at some point have to make your way through an area with hot fire debris and no visibility, this is a way to make it all a bit more pleasant and safer.
What do you guys think? Just a gimmick or sensible background knowledge for certain interior attack situations?