The Engine Company is the basic unit of a fire department. It provides the primary fire fighting agent - water - and the personnel to use it at the fireground.
To supply and use water properly, the fire fighter must have considerable skill and knowledge (along with a certain amount of brawn and the ability to withstand physical and mental stress).
The objectives of an Engine Company are:
Confine the fire
Extinguish the fire
Overhaul the fireground
All but the last of these objectives are carried out in an atmosphere of flame and smoke. Therefore, it is essential that fire fighters understand the nature of fire and the factors that affect its spread, including building construction, type of occupancy, and types of fuel available to the fire.
Engine company apparatus and equipment have been designed to allow fire fighters to function effectively and quickly. Through training and experience, engine company personnel must acquire knowledge, skill and judgement in performing the following eight basic operations of engine companies:
Use of initial attack fire hose lines
Use of backup fire hose lines
Heavy water stream development
Tactical use of protective systems
It is not expected that one company will perform every one of these operations at every fire; nor are the operations necessarily to be carried out in the order given above. Just as fire situations vary, what needs to be done in each case will vary.