The Cleveland Load: What Is It, How to Use It & Why It’s So Good
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Ever since the time firefighters upgraded from buckets to fight fires they have been coming up with different ways to pack, roll and deploy their fire hoses. You could be forgiven for thinking that there couldn’t possibly be another different way to roll a hose, but that’s probably because you haven’t heard of the Cleveland Load.
The Cleveland Load is a method of packing or preparing a fire hose that allows it to be rapidly charged and deployed in a tight space without the need to bowl or stretch the line of hose and without creating kinks in it.
We’ve seen plenty of examples of the Cleveland Load in action at Flashover so we thought we’d put together a complete guide on everything you’d want to know about this unique and efficient technique.
What is the Cleveland Load?
First developed in (you guessed it) California (wait, huh…?) for use during wildfires in the Cleveland National Forest, the Cleveland Load, or as its sometimes called, the Cleveland Lay or Cleveland Roll, is the fancy name that’s given to a method of packing or preparing a fire fighting hose using a particular rolling pattern that results in a coiled hose that can be laid out on the ground and charged rapidly, without kinking and without the need to stretch or bowl the line of hose.
When it’s rolled, the Cleveland Load looks something like this:
What makes the Cleveland Load such a useful technique isn’t in how the hose is packed, it’s in the way the hose is deployed at a fire. Once removed from the appliance and carried to the point where a firefighter plans to commence advancing on a fire, the hose bundle can simply be placed on the ground, unstrapped and rapidly charged as is. No need to waste valuable seconds bowling, rolling or stretching the hose beforehand.
The end result is a neat coil of charged attack line that unwinds easily as the firefighter advances on the fire.
Check out this video of firefighters from Victoria’s CFA in Australia deploying and packing a Cleveland Load
The Cleveland Load can be used with just about any lay flat fire fighting hose, whether it be canvas, rubber or some other material.
While it can be used on almost any size or length hose it is best suited for use on attack line sized hose, such as a 38mm (1.5in) line in 30m (100ft) lengths. This is because the diameter of larger or smaller hoses makes the load too bulky to carry or too thin to retain its shape properly.
There’s a number of ways to store the Cleveland Load depending on what your department has available and the stowage configuration on your appliance. Our experience has been that many brigades opt to use velcro straps, while some go all out with specialist carry bags for stowing the Cleveland Load, which are especially useful for carrying hose, branch and fittings up tall high rise or apartments.
Why use the Cleveland Load over regular rolled or flaked hose?
If you aren’t yet sold on the benefits of the Cleveland Load over a regular rolled or flaked hose here are a few obvious ones:
- The Cleveland Load can be charged without needing to roll or stretch the full hose line. Perfect for tight spaces (think high rise stairwell or thick bush at a wildfire) and for saving valuable time at fires
- Once charged the hose holds it shape without kinking or unravelling into a large mess
- The charged line can be quickly advanced and stretched by one firefighter
- It is relatively easy to carry the packed load long distances over a shoulder or in an attack pack or carry bag
There are a couple of drawbacks with the Cleveland Load that you should consider, mainly being that you need to make sure you roll it correctly for it to deploy properly (practice makes perfect) and that it tends to be bulkier than regular rolled hose.
Where can the Cleveland Load be used?
You can use the Cleveland Load in any setting where you need to quickly charge and deploy an attack line, but there are 2 settings where the Cleveland Load really shines:
High rise / apartment fires
For urban fire crews, the Cleveland Load is absolute gold for high rise or apartment fires. Stretch a line of hose to the point of advance, connect an attack line in Cleveland Load configuration, charge it and you’re on your way.
Forget about bowling an attack line in a landing or hallway and don’t ever worry again about kinks or messy hose lines in stairwells. Tight spaces where fast deployment is required is where the Cleveland Load really stands out.
Bush and wildfires
The wildfire setting is where the Cleveland Load first came into its own and when you think about it, it isn’t hard to see why. If you’ve ever worked in wildfire then you’ve probably uttered a few curse words while trying to bowl a rolled hose over rough terrain and through trees without it going everywhere or flopping over in a mess.
Imagine if there was a way to pack a hose that could be quickly and easily connected to the end of a line in a space where there’s little room to bowl a hose. You see where we’re going here…
Check out this video below of firefighters from the Tasmanian Fire Service deploying a Cleveland Load during a bushfire.
How to prepare & deploy the Cleveland Load
Time required: 2 minutes
What you’ll need: 1x length of lay flat attack hose (pref 30m/100ft of 38mm/1.5in hose), 2x bands or straps (for holding hose together when complete), 1x branch/nozzle (optional)
1. Prepare the hose
Begin by rolling out a full 30m (100ft) length of hose on a smooth clean surface (engine bay floor works well). You can stretch the line out completely or leave the tail in a loose pile.
2. Create the first fold
Start with the end of the hose that you will connect to your branch/nozzle, measure out approx 1.8m (6ft) from the coupling (this is usually just more than a full arms width for most people) and fold the coupling back over the hose to this mark, as shown below.
3. Begin rolling
Now begin coiling the hose by grabbing the fold and stretching it back along the hoseline in clockwise direction so that you create a loop with the coupling at the centre.
4. Drag hose back in front of you
Grab the loop closest to your body and drag the hose back in front of your body so that you are kneeling in front of it.
5. Repeat the process
Continue to repeat this coiling process by folding the coiled hose in a clockwise direction until the entire hose is coiled in a loop (like a snail shell), with the branch/nozzle end in the middle of loop and the other coupling on the outside of the loop, as shown below.
6. Strap and stow
At this point, you’re done! Add your straps, velcro or bands to hold the hose in place and it’s ready to be stowed away. You may choose to attach a branch/nozzle to the middle for rapid deployment, just be sure that the straps are fastened either side so there’s no movement or the coil doesn’t unravel.
OR if you’re feeling extra inventive why not put together one of these Cleveland Load rollers like these firies in Tasmania did:
1. Carry Cleveland Load to location
Remove the Cleveland Load hose from your appliance and carry it to the end of your delivery line.
2. Undo straps and connect hoses
Place the hose on the ground, undo the straps and spread open the loop so it forms a neat circle. DO NOT uncoil or stretch out the line. Connect the coupling on the outside of the Cleveland Load to your delivery line. Grab the coupling from the centre and lift out approx 1 – 2m (3 – 6.5ft) so that you can stand. If not already in place connect your branch/nozzle now.
3. Charge the line
Charge the line with pressurised water. Allow the coiled hose to completely charge before advancing.
Once fully charged you can begin advancing on the fire.
- When preparing the Cleveland Load, avoid making your folds larger or smaller than 1.8m (6ft). This will stop small and bulky or long and cumbersome loads that are difficult to carry and deploy
- If you plan to use the Cleveland Load regularly then mark out 2 points on the floor 1.8m (6ft) apart to make it easy to measure out the ideal length for your hose folds
- Having a second person to help pull hose while preparing the Cleveland Load makes it much easier
- If working in a stairwell or tight space try standing up the charged coil of
hoseand lean it against a wall to make more space
If you’re wondering how else you can stow this type of hose configuration, have a look at how Galston Rural Fire Brigade in NSW have their pumper set up.
Firefighting’s my passion and I’ve been doing it for over 16 years now since I left school. I also get a kick out of helping other fireys by sharing what I’ve learnt, and what I learn from others, by creating great content.