The old saying, "putting the wet stuff on the red stuff" has built into it the huge assumption that the "wet stuff" will exit the nozzle with enough pressure to protect firefighters while extinguishing the fire as quickly as possible. There are two essential elements to an aggressive interior...
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The old saying, "putting the wet stuff on the red stuff" has built into it the huge assumption that the "wet stuff" will exit the nozzle with enough pressure to protect firefighters while extinguishing the fire as quickly as possible. There are two essential elements to an aggressive interior attack: air and water. If either is inconsistent, unreliable or not present, the results of the attack are likely to be disastrous. The fire service adheres to strict guidelines regarding the purchasing and servicing of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which satisfies the need for air in this equation. Yet, honestly, can the same be said about the servicing of the hose that provides the second essential element? Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is no.
Throughout the United States, there exists confusion and uncertainty about the annual testing of equipment; specifically, for the purpose of this article, fire hose testing. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1962 standard, a nationally reorganized standard, requires all fire hose to be tested annually. There are certain criteria for testing occupant-use hose: five years after date of manufacture and every three years thereafter (as indicated in section 4.3.2 of NFPA 1962, 2008 edition). However, it is imperative that each district check with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for detailed specifications for hose testing within occupancies such as factories, hospitals, shopping centers, industrial sites and schools. The chance of encountering faulty or unreliable hose in these places is very likely, and high-rise packs are available to firefighters for protection in these instances, but again, have these been tested?
Though most fire departments strive to achieve the standards set forth by the NFPA, there are still stations and/or departments where hose testing remains a low-priority or sparsely completed chore. Why might this mandatory and highly important safety measure go overlooked so often? The following list is comprised of speculation and is, by no means, all inclusive: