Comella Lock

   Last month we discussed “The Clamp” technique for handling and advancing a charged hoseline. This month we are going to discuss another hose handling technique called the Comella Lock. Credited to Oakland Fire Captain Jay Comella, this method is highly effective for handling attack lines of all sizes during interior firefighting operations. 

   Typically, if the firefighter is right-handed, they’ll position their right knee up. The non-dominant knee should rest on the ground, with the non-dominant toe remaining “active,” meaning that it is coiled up allowing for easy advancement. This stance once again places the firefighter in a tripod position, just like the Clamp. The hoseline should drape over the raised leg, while the bale should extend approximately an arm’s length in front of the firefighter. Having 3-ish feet of hose out in front allows the firefighter to easily direct water where necessary with small movements from their arms. Conversely, when the nozzle is close to the firefighter’s body, as is common when using a pistol grip, it requires the firefighter to move their entire body to properly apply water and cover the entire room, thus leading to fatigue quicker and eventually poor and/or insufficient water application. 

   For a right-handed firefighter, positioning their right elbow and tricep inside their right thigh (as depicted) helps divert the majority of the nozzle reaction from the hose into the firefighter’s arm, down their leg, and disperse it into the ground. Some firefighters even prefer to secure the hose high into their armpit. The left arm is free to open and close the bale, however, when flowing water, both arms will cradle the hose with an underhand grip. Some firefighters find it advantageous to have their index fingers pointing toward the nozzle when cradling the hose. As with the Clamp, the bale should be turned toward the firefighter’s body facilitating easy operation of the bale.

   When attempting the Comella Lock for the first time, it’s essential to be aware of common faults and how to address them:

   1. If the firefighter feels like they have to use their arms to muscle the line, it is likely they have their elbow placed on top of their thigh instead of burying their elbow and tricep inside of their thigh. This results in the nozzle reaction being absorbed into the firefighter’s arms completely rather than diverted down their foot and into the ground.

   2. If the firefighter feels the nozzle reaction pushing them backward, adjusting their hose side foot (side with the knee up) backwards and leaning their hose side knee forwards can help alleviate this issue.

   This month’s drill mirrors last month’s, but with a focus on utilizing the Comella Lock technique to operate both 1¾” and 2½” handlines. Fire-fighters new to the technique, starting with the 1¾” handline is recommended, possibly even under-pumping initially to solely focus on technique refinement. It’s also beneficial to maintain approximately five feet of straight hose behind the nozzle firefighter to mitigate nozzle reaction—a practice applicable to any nozzle position technique. As proficiency with the technique grows, gradually increase pressure for the 1¾” handline until properly pumped, then consider transitioning to the 2½” line. A video tutorial is available online for reference (link provided below).

Training Objectives

   Upon completion the firefighter should be able to….

   • Use the Comella Lock position to flow water without a back-up firefighter directly behind them assisting.

   Iowa Firefighter Association training articles are now archived on the internet. Access them at: 

   Cole Kleinwolterink is a member of the Waukee Fire Department, Granger Fire Department, and Fire Science instructor at Des Moines Area Community College. Feel free to reach out to him at with any questions, comments or inquiries.


Blaze Publications, Inc.

Jeff Gargano - Editor
P.O. Box 122
Humboldt, IA 50548

News and Advertising: News and advertising deadlines are the 15th of each month for the next month's issue.


Comment Here