You already know a fire hose is one of the most basic, essential pieces of fire-fighting equipment. But do you know how many different types of fire hoses there are? In this article we are going to outline some general categories of fire hoses as well as some specific examples. Even so, this is an introductory article and does not comprehensively cover all the different fire hoses in use today.
(Spoiler alert: there are many different types of fire hoses).
Regardless of its purpose, fire hoses need to be durable enough to endure demanding use and strong enough to withstand high-pressure water or other fire retardants, such as foam. Conversely, they also need to be as lightweight as possible for rapid and efficient control.
After use, a fire hose is usually hung to dry, because standing water that remains in a hose for a long time can deteriorate the material and render it unreliable or unusable. Therefore, the typical fire station often has a high structure to accommodate the length of a hose for such preventive maintenance, known as a hose tower.
Hoses are divided into two general categories, based on their use:
- Suction hose
- Delivery hose
Think of suction hose like a vacuum cleaner hose. Except instead of pulling dust and dirt its pulling water from lakes, rivers, wells, pools, etc., to then be transported to a fire.
The diameter of the hose depends on the capacity of the pump, and three standard sizes such as 75mm, 100mm, and 140mm are generally used.
Delivery hose is the first thing many people think of when envisioning a fire hose. It’s a hose that’s delivering pressurized water or some other retardant to a fire. Delivery hose is divided into two sub-categories: percolating hose, and non-percolating hose.
Percolating hose allows water to seep through the hose and is used mainly to fight forest fires. The seepage of water through the hose protects the hose against damage by glowing embers falling onto it or the hose being laid on hot ground.
In fire services, non-percolating hoses consist of a reinforced jacket made from polyester or nylon yarns. This type of hose has an inner lining of rubber and is not designed to leak water. Non-percolating hose is more efficient than percolating hoses since it’s not losing water.
More Specific Types of Fire Hoses
Attack hose is a fabric-covered, flexible hose used to bring water from the fire pumper to the nozzle for spraying on a fire. This hose ranges in diameter from 1.5 to 3 in (38 to 76 mm) and is designed to operate at pressures up to about 400 psi (2,760 kPa). The standard length is 50 ft (15.24 m).
Supply and relay hoses are large-diameter, fabric-covered, flexible hoses used to bring water from a distant hydrant to the fire pumper, or to relay water from one pumper to another over a long distance. These hoses range in diameter from 3.5 to 5.0 in (89 to 127 mm). They are designed to operate at pressures up to about 300 psi (2,070 kPa) for the smaller diameters and up to 200 psi (1,380 kPa) for the larger diameters. The standard length is 100 ft (30.48 m).
Forestry hose is a fabric-covered, flexible hose used to fight fires in grass, brush, and trees where a lightweight hose is needed to maneuver it over steep or rough terrain. Forestry hose comes in 1.0 and 1.5 in (25 and 38 mm) diameters and is designed to operate at pressures up to about 450 psi (3,100 kPa). The standard length is 100 ft (30.48 m).
Booster hose is a rubber-covered, thick-walled, flexible hose used to fight small fires. It retains its round cross-section when it is not under pressure and is usually carried on a reel on the fire pumper, rather than being stored flat. Booster hose comes in 0.75 and 1.0 in (19 and 25 mm) diameters and is designed to operate at pressures up to 800 psi (5,520 kPa). The standard length is 100 ft (30.48 m).
Suction hose, sometimes called hard-suction hose, is usually a rubber-covered, semi-rigid hose with internal, metal reinforcements. It is used to suck water out of unpressurized sources, such as ponds or rivers. Hard-suction hose comprises multiple layers of rubber and woven fabric encapsulating an internal helix of steel wire. Suction hose ranges in nominal inside diameter from 2.5 to 6.0 in (64 to 152 mm). The standard length is 10 ft (3.05 m).
Fire Hose Connections
Fire hose connections are often made from brass, though hardened aluminum connections are also in use.
Threaded hose couplings are used in the United States and Canada. Each of these countries uses a different kind of threading. Many other countries have standardized quick-action couplings, which do not have a male and female end, but connect either way.