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Thread: Smooth Bore vs. Combo/Fog nozzles. Pros & Cons?

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    Arrow Smooth Bore vs. Combo/Fog nozzles. Pros & Cons?

    Hey everyone. Let's get some good old fire talk going. What are your opinions on smooth bore vs. combo/fog nozzles? What to you are the pros and cons? Also, what does your department use?


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    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Here's an idea for a new thread.

    Blue Lights... pros and cons.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    MembersZone Subscriber CKirk922's Avatar
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    REALLY?

    Ok, I'll bite

    The solid construction and smooth lines of a Smooth Bore nozzle make it a light weight but effective projectile when anger overwhelms your sensibilities and you heave said device at a fellow firefighter.

    The same can be said of a fog nozzle with the exception that a good one will weigh a little more and one with metal spinning teeth will inflict more damage.

    Aim for the back of the head for maximum effect.

    That said...

    As for performance... Both put out fire. Your prefered pump pressures, flow rates, and tactical preferences will determine which weapon...scratch that....nozzle you use.
    Last edited by Fireeaterbob; 08-24-2011 at 07:14 PM.
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Aw, come on guys, he's a newbie, just play along.

    My obvious answer is use the nozzle your FD supplies. Learn the flows it will give you, how it operates, how to use it to the best effect in fire attack, and keep it clean and maintained. Most firefighters unless on an equipment committee have little say over what type of nozzle they will use.

    Now that the disclaimer is out of the way here is my humble but absolutely correct opinion!

    Smoothbore nozzles are the safest and most appropriate nozzle for interior fire attack. There is virtually no chance of them clogging with debris and little chance of any other malfunction. The solid stream will penetrate deeper into a fire than MOST straight streams before it is affected by heat. There is no chance that an inexperienced nozzle man will have it set on the wrong pattern(fog), or have it change to the wrong pattern(fog), while dragging it to the fire area. A smart and experienced nozzle man knows that with a combination tip they MUST check the pattern before opening the nozzle or they may cause a world of hurt by excessive steam production.

    Now, there are places where a combination nozzle may be a better choice. When looking to make aerated foam, or using Class A foam in either dish water consistency or in more sudsy blanketing style. Many proponents of combination tips like to talk about using the stream to vent with and this does work well with a narrow fog pattern fit to the window. But it can also be done with a smoothbore nozzle partially opened.

    The last component of a combination nozzle that I want to dismiss out of hand is the fallacy of protection while using a wide fog inside a structure in a superheated atmosphere. WRONG and very dangerous. In the olden days, right after horses, we used to crawl into the room, flop on our backs, grab the hose back a foot or so from the nozzle and with the nozzle set on wide fog we would whip the nozzle around filling the uppper part of the room with steam. Guess what happened? We got our asses burned every damn time from the heat, steam, and black nasty dropping down on us. The protective cone of water works great IF you are not in a confined super heated atmosphere. Like for approaching a gas meter fire, or a car fire where the heat can dissipate into the atmosphere.

    I think the best choice is having both types of nozzles available and selecting the right one for the job. Either way, a smooth bore stream or a straight stream from a combination nozzle is the best choice for interior work.

    My volly FD uses low pressure combination nozzles rated at 200 gpm at 75 psi backed by a 1 1/4 inch slug tip on 2 inch hose. Seems to work fine for us because our guys are trained to use a straight stream for interior firefighting.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 08-24-2011 at 09:23 PM.
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    Forum Member L-Webb's Avatar
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    I like a combo on a 1.75 and smoothbore on anything larger. Other than PDP, in my exp. there is no advantage to a smoothbore over a combo on a 1.75.... oh and fryed is right almost impossible to clog a smoothbore.

    Now on the larger lines or a master stream a smoothbore is all I want.

    I can hear the rants now.. fog=steam= thermal inversion. Be careful how you use your nozzle.

    Sorry for the rambling response I have had a few tonight.. rare for me.
    Bring enough hose.

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    Im a truckie, as such I really don't care what the engine uses. As long as they use it right and know its limitations and advantages.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Chevy or Ford- pros and cons?

    Now that I got the smart alecky comment out of the way:

    I'm gonna say definitely, both! Both have their uses. I'm gonna agree with Fyred here as well- I personally prefer a smoothbore for interior work. They're dern near firefighter proof ( you do still have to figure out how to work the shut off...)!! The ultimate solution is to go with break aparts, and use whichever tip is appropriate.

    I, too, have been "steam cleaned" a few too many times by an inexperienced nozzleman. One good point in favor of combo tips, is that they work very well for overhaul and exposure protection. Opening up the pattern slightly can reduce a lot of the impact or hydraulic digging, so you don't blast debris everywhere, peel siding off the neighbor's house, or blow out the windows. You can also cover more area at once.

    My dept uses TFT handlines on the 1 3/4" and on some of the 2 1/2's The two newest rigs have break apart playpipes, and they're usually packed with the smoothbore tip. We also carry 15/16" smoothbores for the handlines. The deck guns all have smoothbores, and we have both for the ladderpipe.

    Given my druthers, I'd rather go with a low pressure combo, like a Chief or Assault, than an automatic. With a 50 psi tip, you can use the same discharge pressure for either smooth or combo tips, simplifying the p/o's job. also prevents seriously underpumping an auto, when the P/O is pumping for smoothbores, or getting the hell beat out of you when he feeds your smoothbore boucoup pressure, thinking he's pumping to an auto.

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    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    Seriously, read the link. We literally just discussed this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Forum Member Theusje's Avatar
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    If you get steam burned: blame the nozzle operator and not the nozzle please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theusje View Post
    If you get steam burned: blame the nozzle operator and not the nozzle please.
    Well, duh. Unless of course you consider that a smoothbore nozzle simply cannot be accidentally changed to a fog pattern. No matter how much you drag it on the floor as you advance the line. Which means no one has to check to make sure a smoothbore nozzle isn't set on fog, but you do have to make sure a combination nozzle isn't set on fog.
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    Forum Member L-Webb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Well, duh. Unless of course you consider that a smoothbore nozzle simply cannot be accidentally changed to a fog pattern. No matter how much you drag it on the floor as you advance the line. Which means no one has to check to make sure a smoothbore nozzle isn't set on fog, but you do have to make sure a combination nozzle isn't set on fog.
    Yes, but won't a smoothbore invert the thermal layer and cause steam if you flow too much water at once?

    You are right about checking the nozzle setting, our sm30s move really easy.
    Bring enough hose.

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    MembersZone Subscriber tajm611's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L-Webb View Post
    Yes, but won't a smoothbore invert the thermal layer and cause steam if you flow too much water at once?

    You are right about checking the nozzle setting, our sm30s move really easy.
    ...... Not entirely sure if you're serious or not
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    Quote Originally Posted by L-Webb View Post
    Yes, but won't a smoothbore invert the thermal layer and cause steam if you flow too much water at once?

    You are right about checking the nozzle setting, our sm30s move really easy.
    All nozzles create steam.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L-Webb View Post
    Yes, but won't a smoothbore invert the thermal layer and cause steam if you flow too much water at once?

    You are right about checking the nozzle setting, our sm30s move really easy.
    Too much water where? The standard attack with a smoothbore is either an up down all around movement of the stream, or a rapid sweep of the ceiling and then right to the heart of the fire. The cohesiveness of the smoothbore stream does not allow for as much steam conversion in the atmosphere as a fog pattern does. The fog pattern has much smaller droplet size and converts to steam faster.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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    Quote Originally Posted by tajm611 View Post
    ...... Not entirely sure if you're serious or not
    Yes I'm serious.. Never used a smoothbore for interior work. I have used them but always from outside on a 2.5.
    Bring enough hose.

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    Forum Member Theusje's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Well, duh. Unless of course you consider that a smoothbore nozzle simply cannot be accidentally changed to a fog pattern. No matter how much you drag it on the floor as you advance the line. Which means no one has to check to make sure a smoothbore nozzle isn't set on fog, but you do have to make sure a combination nozzle isn't set on fog.
    It takes half a second to make sure that the nozzle is in the right position. Turn the nozzle all the way right for reach and then a quarter of a turn to the left for the 60° cone.

    Using pulses from the 60° cone is the most efficient and safest way to stabilize conditions in the overhead of a smoke and heat filled hallway. In a hallway this usually means one pulse every 2m (7ft).

    For the actual fire attack you can do a whole range of combinations depending on the stage of the fire, fire growth, ventilation holes, ...

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theusje View Post
    It takes half a second to make sure that the nozzle is in the right position. Turn the nozzle all the way right for reach and then a quarter of a turn to the left for the 60° cone.

    Of course it takes very little time to make sure the nozzle is in the right position. In fact I teach the "right for fight, left for lobster" to my students. I remind them every time we enter the burn tower and guess what? Better than 50% of the time I have to remind them AGAIN before they enter the burn room to check the pattern. Can it be overcome with training? Of course. But the fact is you never have to worry about that with a smoothbore.

    By the way on most nozzles, all the way to the right is too far. It causes the stream to start wide at the nozzle, narrow about 2 to 4 feet from the nozzle and widen out again. I don't know what brand of nozzle you use but almost every brand I have tried the 1/4 turn to the left gives an almost perfectly trimmed straight stream.


    Using pulses from the 60° cone is the most efficient and safest way to stabilize conditions in the overhead of a smoke and heat filled hallway. In a hallway this usually means one pulse every 2m (7ft).

    I have used the pulsing technique and under the right circumstances it works. I can also tell you with 100% certainty that in the training fires we had last weekend you would have gotten chased out of the hallway of the mobile homes we were fighting fire in using that technique. We set a fires in the big room at the end of the trailers, I guess it is the living room/dining room area. We had crews advance down the hallway from the other end of the trailer. We had active fire overhead in the hallway with no place to vent it in the hallway. If we had injected any kind of fog pattern into that atmosphere we would have steam burned firefighters. We used straight streams, working the overhead to knock back the fire until we could get to the main body of the fire and knock that down.

    For the actual fire attack you can do a whole range of combinations depending on the stage of the fire, fire growth, ventilation holes, ...

    As do I. IF I am inside the fire area, or there are survivable victims in the structure, any type of attack that creates massive amounts of steam(fog into the super heated overhead) will adversely affect me, my crew, and diminish survival chances for victims.
    Options is the name of the game. Using fog in an indirect attack in an enclosed area, where venting has not occurred, you control the door, and no victims are in the area, is a sound tactic and is proven to work. Solid stream, or staight stream, attack using the up, down, all around method, or directly applying water to the base of the fire is also a sound tactic and is proven to work.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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    Forum Member Theusje's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Of course it takes very little time to make sure the nozzle is in the right position. In fact I teach the "right for fight, left for lobster" to my students. I remind them every time we enter the burn tower and guess what? Better than 50% of the time I have to remind them AGAIN before they enter the burn room to check the pattern. Can it be overcome with training? Of course. But the fact is you never have to worry about that with a smoothbore.
    KISS wins it here and mistakes happens. The more variables the more that can go wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    By the way on most nozzles, all the way to the right is too far. It causes the stream to start wide at the nozzle, narrow about 2 to 4 feet from the nozzle and widen out again. I don't know what brand of nozzle you use but almost every brand I have tried the 1/4 turn to the left gives an almost perfectly trimmed straight stream.
    Another cultural difference it seems. On most nozzles here all the way right is a straight stream. This is the starting point. The more to the left the wider the stream.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I have used the pulsing technique and under the right circumstances it works. I can also tell you with 100% certainty that in the training fires we had last weekend you would have gotten chased out of the hallway of the mobile homes we were fighting fire in using that technique. We set a fires in the big room at the end of the trailers, I guess it is the living room/dining room area. We had crews advance down the hallway from the other end of the trailer. We had active fire overhead in the hallway with no place to vent it in the hallway. If we had injected any kind of fog pattern into that atmosphere we would have steam burned firefighters. We used straight streams, working the overhead to knock back the fire until we could get to the main body of the fire and knock that down.
    What flow rate did you use? I fear that we don't flow enough water to do this. Our max on a 1 3/4" is 130 gpm.

    Those fog pulses work if the fire is in it's incipient (or decay) stage or on small fires with low HRR.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Options is the name of the game. Using fog in an indirect attack in an enclosed area, where venting has not occurred, you control the door, and no victims are in the area, is a sound tactic and is proven to work. Solid stream, or staight stream, attack using the up, down, all around method, or directly applying water to the base of the fire is also a sound tactic and is proven to work.
    I have nothing to add here.

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