We often get the question "how can I hold the hose and carry my tool?"
If you can bring a tool with you and have both hands on the line at the same time then go for it. In a heavy fire situation where it is imperative that the line be kept in operation throughout the advance and possible retreat, the nozzle and back-up firefighters must have full control of the hose line at all times – that means both hands. For the nozzle and back-up firefighters , the line is your tool until the fire is out or until you and other members are safely out of the structure after a retreat.
If you are in a low manpower situation you can bring your tools as far as you can until you begin your fire attack (open nozzle) with the hose line. Once the fire is knocked down you can go get your tools and begin to overhaul. As you advance the attack line there will be no space in-between the nozzle and back-up firefighters. While moving in, the nozzle firefighter is basically leaning on the back-up firefighter for stability. The backup firefighter is taking all the nozzle reaction force. When the nozzle firefighter calls for an advance the backup firefighter nudges the nozzle firefighter and the two move simultaneously forward staying married together throughout the advance.
If there is a need for a retreat, remember that the nozzle needs to stay open and operating until all members are in a safe position. In the case of a retreat the nozzle firefighter tells the backup firefighter BACK OUT and with a slight nudge by the nozzle firefighter, the team simultaneously begin backing out with the nozzle open and in operation. If you are backing out of a structure due to heavy fire conditions you must not shut the nozzle down when backing out. If conditions are bad enough during the attack/advance that you need to back out, common sense tells us that shutting the nozzle down will make things much worse. If there are other members operating in the structure ahead of or above the line you must hold your position until those members are safe. To do this right so you don’t lose control of the hose line you need both hands on it. You have water you’re the last to leave when things go bad.