One of the most basic skills we teach a new recruit in the Firefighter One Course is how to hold the nozzle during an offensive fire attack. This skill is the foundation of all firefighting operations. If done correctly, the nozzle-man will be able to counteract nozzle reaction while directing the stream 360 degrees and advancing forward. If done incorrectly, the hose line advance will stall and the nozzle team will take a beating.
Let’s take a look at the proper technique for “holding the nozzle”. In actuality, the nozzle-man never really holds the nozzle; he holds the hose immediately behind the nozzle. While holding the hose he should strive to maintain a minimum of three points of contact between the hose and his body. These points of contact create friction which will help him counteract the nozzle reactionary forces. The hose should be held under his right arm and pinned tightly against his upper torso (contact point #1). The thumb and fingers of his right hand should be flat on the hose and encircle the hose (contact point #2). The left hand should hold the hose immediately behind the male coupling to which the nozzle is attached (contact point #3).
The thumb and fingers of the left hand should encircle the hose with the left palm facing up, creating as much surface contact as possible. If the nozzle needs be open or closed the left hand is easily repositioned up to the nozzle bail. If he still is having problems controlling the nozzle reaction, he can tuck the left elbow inward and brace it on his upper torso (contact point #4). He should also try to maintain at least an arms length of hose out in front of his body. This arms length of hose will allow him to easily move the nozzle in a 360 degree circle out in front of the advancing nozzle team. (See photo #1)
The easiest way to distinguish a well trained and experienced firefighter from a lesser skilled firefighter is just watch the way he holds the nozzle. It will be easy to see. Stay safe.