For Better Understanding, Stand Under It

Ray McCormack

Water mapping is a term that grew from a portion of the https://ulfirefightersafety.org/research-projects/impact-of-fire-attack-on-firefighter-safety-and-occupant-survival.html UL study. This sub-study was done to document where the water from our nozzle was going and how it dispersed, depending upon stream placement. 


Different diameter hoselines with different nozzle pressures and flows were all tested, because the American Fire Service uses various nozzles. Ceiling strike depths were also tested and evaluated to see if variances occurred, if they occurred and what they were, and that’s important information.


Fire departments have choices as to how to fight fires and have options for accomplishing extinguishment based on those choices. Many fire departments have yet to do a deep-dive on water mapping. This is possibly the single most important aspect of gaining extinguishment that there is. We need to understand our hose streams, their capabilities and their progressive effect on fire attack.


Taking the smoke away from how our streams work only leaves the mirrors to deal with. The mirrors are there to show if you’ve trained on this or not. If you train, the image reflecting back will be one of interest in the craft; if you don’t train on it, the image will be one of stagnation. There is more work to be done on water mapping and stream placement, but the real work is always the same continuous training.

I’ve been doing water mapping and stream placement review for years watching firefighter operate their nozzles, the good, bad and ugly. You must access the information to gain knowledge and practice the different stream placements to build it into your nozzle operations. Formal training in this should be done at every fire department and be part of every new firefighters training curriculum.


You may be blinded by smoke as you operate the nozzle, but the water is always line of sight. Always find out what it’s doing and where it’s going. Don’t stand on the sidelines of this valuable firefighting training component stand under it for a better understanding.

Keep Fire in Your Life

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