Thread: Dutchman

  1. #1
    Jonathan H. Allen Guest

    Post Dutchman

    When packing hose to avoid a coupling being near the end of the bed, it is folded in the middle. This is often called a "Dutchman". Any ideas where this came from?

  2. #2
    Vinny Del Giudice Guest


    Good question! I'm going to make a few calls on this.

  3. #3
    Vinny Del Giudice Guest


    Still hunting ... Anyone else have any clues?

  4. #4
    cacfpd Guest


    Is it possibly related to the dance that the dutch do, ie kicking legs almost backwards.
    Yeah your right, I really don't have a clue, but am interested in the answer.


  5. #5
    EPFD-AL Guest


    OK. Here goes:

    The term "dutchman" is not exclusive to the fire service.

    Carpenters who cut decayed sections out of a beam or sill plate replace it with a dutchman. Stagehands lock scenery
    drops with a dutchman. Painters fold drop cloths into a dutchman.

    Firefighters use a dutchman in racking hose so that the hose will come out straight, so that it won't bind up against a baffleboard, and so that couplings can be staggered in the hose bed.

    The dutchman we firefighters use has it's origins not with hose, but with rope, and it goes back to the late 1600s.

    Back then rope was at a premium. Sailing ships used miles of it. It was in short supply and very, very expensive; so whenever it broke, it had to be spliced. Dutch sailors, who greatly prefered to be called Hollanders, were known to be master splicers.

    Splices were big problems aboard ship. They would not fit through sail grommets or through the sheaves of a block and tackle, and they would bind in hawseholes.

    Ropes aboard sailing ships had to be stored in a manner that would allow them to be rapidly deployed without entanglements or binding.

    Normally rope would be coiled on deck, but numerous splices made this impossible; so the Hollanders devised a sysytem of folding the rope accordion style. When they came to a splice, they added a fold, assuring that the rope would deploy quickly and properly; just like we do with hose couplings.

    The British sailors saw this rope folding technique, copied it, and they called the extra fold for rope splices a "dutchman."

    The British relished using the term. They looked down at the Dutch, knew the Dutch preferred to be called Hollanders, and it furthered their views that the Hollanders were cheap; too cheap to even buy new ropes.
    Don't forget, it was also the British sailors who came up with the term "dutch treat" from their experiences with Dutch sailors, who they said "had short arms and deep pockets" whenever they met in port.

    Also, if you are staggering your folds when racking hose, (one out - one in - one out - one in), you're doing a "dutchlap" another old rope term.

    Alan ten-Hoeve

  6. #6
    Brian Johnson Guest



    You're the best. I have asked everyone I know this question and have always got a blank stare back. The guys are going to be real impressed next time a rookie asks me where does the term Dutchmen come from?

    Brian Johnson
    Asst. Chief, Training
    MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

  7. #7
    Jonathan H. Allen Guest



    Thank you very much for your in depth reply. Now I too will be able to astound the probies with an answer. I am also conversant with nautical rope usage, but missed that explaination in any of the books I've read. Thanks again.

  8. #8
    Aff Guest


    You need more hobbies for you spare time!LOL

    Stay safe...


  9. #9
    Vinny Del Giudice Guest


    Great stuff!!!

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