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    Question Solid Stream Smootbore Nozzles vs. Fog Nozzles

    It has been common practice in my department, as well as surrounding mutual aid departments, to use fog nozzles during operations at almost all of our fires, not specific to structures. Smoothbore tips are mostly found only on our master streams. I perceive the most likely reason for this practice is because we have limited water supply, and mostly rely on water shuttles. I suppose a second reason would be because "that's how it's always been done" and we are creatures of habit. The water company has began to phase in hydrants in parts of my department's primary and secondary coverage areas and I am looking to research smoothbore nozzles vs. fog nozzles.

    I am familiar with the obvious differences between the two nozzles regarding reach, pressure, penetration power, GPMs, heat absorption, etc. I am looking to hear from everyone regarding what their department uses and the advantages/disadvantages that you find with either nozzle. Does your department use all fog nozzles, all smoothbore nozzles, combination nozzles, or a mix of the three. Do you use one over the other for any specific task? Do you find one more sucessful than the other? What are your procedures and tactics for ventilation regarding either nozzle? What does your department use for water supply? Do you have a career or volunteer department and does response times affect your water supply when using a specific type nozzle?

    Any insight and information you can give me regarding your fireground operations for fire attack, overhaul, ventilation, etc with a specific nozzle would be helpful as well as just a basic background on your department so I can understand where you are coming from and whether the tactics you use can be applied successfully to a department like mine. Thanks!

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    There is a search function...this topic has been discussed ad nauseum...but anyway....there seems to be the beginning of a push from more, and more departments to return to using a smoothbore in more and more ops. Or at least carry them, giving the crews the option. My preference has been breakapart nozzles with 1-1/8in slug tips, as we won't be buying any smoothbores soon, but we do have a number of breakaparts.
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    My department uses all combo's on all 1-3/4 attack lines because we do not have the luxury of assigning people to do one thing and letting them develop
    into masters of that one thing. I may be nozzle, backup, can, vent, irons, officer, pumps and everything else at any givin time. We need a nozzle that can do it all. The smooth bore is the best at what it does and the combo does everything well enough in my opinion. I know the smoothbore guys will say to take off the tip and use whats left to vent but I dont think that so called "spray" can compare to a 30 degree fog stream. I have used both over the years and that is how I formed my opinion. If however I was to be just nozzleman for the rest of my life, I would want that trusty smoothie as my own. Your Firefighters must be trained to use the combo correctly or they can hurt people with the steam.

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    These links will give you some insight ....

    FIRES IN THE GASEOUS PHASE
    3D FIREFIGHTING

    There is a need for BOTH types of nozzle on the fireground to optimise the tactical approach in different situations. For 'room & contents' fires (most residential) my first choice is a combination fog/solid stream for the reasons discussed at the link sites.

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    My Dept. uses a combination of both on our attack lines, some are partial to the smooth bore, some are partial to the fog/straight stream nozzle.

    In my opinion, most of the time the situation dictates which to use. Both have there +'s and -'s.

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    Two points..
    First.. fire flow doesn't change. If you are going to be successful interior you can't worry about conserving water, you have to make sure it's there and use the correct flow. Hit hard and fast and you will get the knockdown, sustaining it is the trick. An attack with a low flow line will use more water in the long run.
    Second.. My volunteer company used TFT's for a long time and I continuously struggled with getting guys to always go full flow and always go straight stream on the attack. For relatively low experienced nozzleman the high flow smooth bore leaves no decisions and no middle ground. Pull it back and put the fire out.

    Either nozzle will be successful when pumped correctly and applied correctly. There are just a few less variables with a smooth bore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Halligan84
    Two points..
    First.. fire flow doesn't change.
    Halligan bro .... not quite true. One of the advantages of IOWA or 3D water-fog methods are that you CAN conserve water using a fog attack in comparison to direct attack smooth-bore tactics. Although the actual needed flow-rate is lower (as applied) it is essential however, that you DO approach with an effective flow-rate for all situations, wherever possible, as you suggest.

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    Im a station captain in a career 100+ man mostly rural department. We use both smoothbore and automatic fogs as well.If room and contents we usually use fogs.If we need deep penetration or more reach,such as a surround and drown mobile home type incident we use smoothbore to get deep into the pile. Probably 75% of our residential srutucture response involves mobile homes that are collapsed by the time we get there.Of course if we happen to be on a CAFS engine that day the job seems to go much quicker.
    One other point that has recently come up with our automatic fog nozzles is what to pump them at. For example,
    DE # 1 stated a 75/150 nozzle should be pumped at around 100 psi on a flat lay with a 150' 1 3/4 hose.
    DE # 2 stated no matter what a fog nozzle always starts at 100 psi on a handline which would make the same lay start out with about 125 psi initially.

    I agree with De # 2 because you dont have a much of a problem with the hose kinking. What do you guys do? I was just curious. Both of these guys have been around for a while and always seem to know what they are talkin about.
    Last edited by hernandocntyfla; 10-18-2005 at 03:46 AM.

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    What do you guys do?
    We borrowed a flow meter and amazed ourselves at how much we were underpumping our lines, which were setup very similar to what yours are. Found that we were not flowing anywhere near 150gpm, which is what we were looking for. We have since changed to "break apart" nozzles which are 75/175 adjustable tip and 7/8" smoothbore when the adjustable tip is removed. Our 200' 1 3/4" crosslays are pumped at 150psi which gives us comparable flow above what we wanted using either tip. Pump operator doesn't have to make any changes if the adjustable tip is removed, no kinks in the hose, no problems moving the hose, no problem for nozzleman and backup to handle. If you can, use a flow meter. They make believer's of us "old timers".
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Let me stir the pot. Structural firefighting = Smoothbore. Hit it hard fast and deep. Less steam conversion = better victim viablility. Lower nozzle pressure required to get sufficient flow to fight fire. Better quicker knockdown, better penetration. Automatic fog nozzles are the devil. The nozzle man can't feel a difference in the reaction, doesn't know if he is getting 15 or 150 GPM until it is too late and you loose the structure or get a firefighter hurt.

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    ff5121,

    I agree with just about everything you said, except that I think straight stream should be substituted for smoothbore. We use a fog that gives us 165gpm @ 50psi. My guys know that they are to never use a fog on an interior attack unless there are certain situations or I say so. I like the versatility of the fog. I am running with 3 and need the versatility. There are times where we switch to fog: hydraulic ventilation, fire in an attic, darken down a basement from outside before entering, car fires, etc. I know you can make a fog stream with a smoothbore, but it does not compare to the fog from a fog nozzle. I think the versatility we have with this nozzle is worth the trade off for the advantages of the smoothbore. When we need the smoothbore we break off the fog tip and have a 15/16 smoothbore. I agree 100% about the autos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ff5121
    Let me stir the pot. Automatic fog nozzles are the devil. The nozzle man can't feel a difference in the reaction, doesn't know if he is getting 15 or 150 GPM until it is too late and you loose the structure or get a firefighter hurt.
    Thats absolutely 100% wrong. Any firefighter with a clue knows the difference in backpressure of 15 versus 150 GPM. If its easy to hold its not enough water. Thats about as simple as it gets. Nozzle reaction (back pressure) is a function of flow AND pressure.

    I dont care for automatics either, but the devils are the idiots who dont understand how they work and can't pump them properly or handle them because they are too weak or aren't trained properly.

    You can stir the pot, just post something thats factual and makes sense.

    Another point i always find interesting is the theory that smooth bore penetrates more. I Don't buy it. 100 PSI versus 50 PSI at the same flow (GPM) will hit harder every time. The only thing i can think of is that the "misty" fprmation of a straight stream might be a little more likely to be carried by a thermal colum in a BIG fire. Where do half these fallacies come from?? If you were pressure washing your house and you reduced the pressure by 50 PSI and kept the flow the same, do you think it would clean the siding as well. Probably not.
    Last edited by MG3610; 10-18-2005 at 05:26 PM.

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    I'm amazed. Everywhere I go...we start our fog nozzles at 100 PSI. Great, have fun in there boys! Theres something wrong in the fire service, and I'm still looking to find out where we got messed up. If you cant understand basic hydraulics (i.e. friction loss) you have no business deciding how much pressure to pump to the guys inside. It drives me crazy!!!

    Any nozzle will put out fire if its applied to the right hose, pumped properly and used properly. The problem is all of this crap people have blindly been led to believe or the grossly inaccurate figures that are still used for deciding pump pressures today. All over America automatic sare puttin out fires, just as well as smooth bores and fixed gallonage nozzles. The key is in knowing the equipment, its applications and limitations.
    Last edited by MG3610; 10-18-2005 at 05:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeavilleFire

    Any insight and information you can give me regarding your fireground operations for fire attack, overhaul, ventilation, etc with a specific nozzle would be helpful as well as just a basic background on your department so I can understand where you are coming from and whether the tactics you use can be applied successfully to a department like mine. Thanks!
    Back to the question. We are a small combination department. Our initial arriving staffing is anywhere from 5-10 FF's until the second wave comes in (the volunteers) Our first due companies carry 200 and 250' 1 3/4" crosslays wiith Akron Saberjets. 15/16" tip for 180 GPM and capable of 135 GPM fog. I love them. They are easy to use and work well. We dont run a huge fire load, but they have seen a few fires in the year we've had them. We bought the nozzles for firefighting, not ventilation. Although, having a fog capability lends itself well to velitilating. We have to multitask at fires with limited staffing, so we usually onlly have 2 or 3 FF;s on a line. Works well for us. We have many wood frame detached single family homes, quite a few townhomes and a pretty good comercial district. Our 2 1/2" line has a 1 1/8 and 1 1/4" SB and we have 150' 2 1/2" line off the rear with a 500 GPM Akron Mercury nozzle on it.

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    How many of you guys have been to a fire you couldn't get out with a fog nozzle. I've been to a few, but when you read these arguments it seems like everyone is going to the towering inferno everyday! On your average fire (one, two, or three rooms going) I don't think anyone would have the least amount of trouble going in with a fog. It's the rare fire that NEEDS a smoothbore IMHO. That said, i do agree with the nozzle cloging argument.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoFF
    How many of you guys have been to a fire you couldn't get out with a fog nozzle. I've been to a few, but when you read these arguments it seems like everyone is going to the towering inferno everyday! On your average fire (one, two, or three rooms going) I don't think anyone would have the least amount of trouble going in with a fog. It's the rare fire that NEEDS a smoothbore IMHO. That said, i do agree with the nozzle cloging argument.
    better to have and not need then to need and not have.
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    Chicago, see my original post, I do agree with you on that. I'd venture to say that 1 3/4 fog at 150 gpm is the most common line out there. I haven't seen fires that a properly pumped and operated fog would not extinguish and a smoothbore would, however I have seen nozzleman turn the whole place into a steam bath and I have seen nozzlemen improperly operate automatic nozzles cutting their flow back to an unacceptable level.

    Paul, We have to agree to disagree. I like having high flow line at my disposal if for nothing else more than a safety margin. I have read abou the 3D attacks and tried it in training. It works with well experienced nozzlemen and probably more controlled circumstances (ie ventilation).

    Bones and MG, the flow meter is the ticket. I know you said you don't like autos but we had our flow meter hooked up to a TFT flowing 200 GPM and asked the nozzleman to back it down to half and stop. In most cases they were flowing 50 to 60 GPM and thought they still had a good flow. Setting your standard pump pressures with a flow meter really help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Halligan84

    Bones and MG, the flow meter is the ticket. I know you said you don't like autos but we had our flow meter hooked up to a TFT flowing 200 GPM and asked the nozzleman to back it down to half and stop. In most cases they were flowing 50 to 60 GPM and thought they still had a good flow. Setting your standard pump pressures with a flow meter really help.
    Im lucky enough to have one at my disposal through the fire academy. Thats how we set our preconnect pressures after testing 'em. Honestly, if your guys thought it was a good stream, thats an issue of training in my opinion. Anything more than 100 GPM is enough to recognize the kickback, especially on a 100 PSI tip.

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    I'm amazed. Everywhere I go...we start our fog nozzles at 100 PSI.
    Ever try adjustable nozzles that are designed for 75 or 50 psi? Our current nozzles are 75 psi with 175 gpm.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    Ever try adjustable nozzles that are designed for 75 or 50 psi? Our current nozzles are 75 psi with 175 gpm.
    Yeah I know, but I'm referring to the statement made by alot of engineers and officers regarding standard pressure (100) combination nozzles. I'm sure youve heard this too!

    Funny thing about low pressure combination tips is theyre just larger orafice nozzles underpumped to acheive the rated output and stamped as such by the manufacturers

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    Putting hydraulics aside, alot of the problems I hace encountered in my area is application and eduction. I had 3 kids come back from FF1 when quizzed about stream patterns and applications in a residential setting they responded by going in with a 30-60 degree cone and whipping it around

    I cant tell you how many times I have gone on mutual box's and seen this done. Turn a quasey tennable enviroment into soup and steam. Take those dam adjustable pattern nozzles away.

    The argument about PSI and GPM dosnt hold as much water as it did 10-15 years ago. Technology has come along way.

    Again education and training saves the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610
    Another point i always find interesting is the theory that smooth bore penetrates more. I Don't buy it. 100 PSI versus 50 PSI at the same flow (GPM) will hit harder every time. The only thing i can think of is that the "misty" fprmation of a straight stream might be a little more likely to be carried by a thermal colum in a BIG fire. Where do half these fallacies come from?? If you were pressure washing your house and you reduced the pressure by 50 PSI and kept the flow the same, do you think it would clean the siding as well. Probably not.
    The reason the smoothbore has better penetration is because the water droplets are larger in size. The fog nozzles at 100 PSI entrain air into the stream and create smaller water droplets. Therefore, the larger droplets are less likely to get prematurely vaporized by the convective currents from the fire. In response to your last sentence...all I can say to that is....Volume of water is what puts fire out, not pressure.

    Our 15/16ths SB, while at a lower nozzle pressure, still allows us to "hydraulically overhaul" through the drywall or whatever if needed.

    Now with all that said, I believe a fog nozzle set on SS flowing at least 150 GPM will do just fine for a residential building fire. But there is no reason why a smoothbore shouldn't be used for master stream ops. (EDIT: For applying water to the fire building)

    I guess my biggest pet peeve with the fog nozzles is when guys put it on a fog, like a narrow fog, to cover more fire area. (Outside fires). I suggest to them to put the damn thing on SS and move the nozzle around. I also see a lack of knowledge when trying to apply the indirect (exterior) attack. The common error is usually that they fail to realize that the area to be steamed up must be confined or sealed off. Kind of hard to tell from the outside.
    Last edited by erics99; 10-20-2005 at 08:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by erics99
    The reason the smoothbore has better penetration is because the water droplets are larger in size. The fog nozzles at 100 PSI entrain air into the stream and create smaller water droplets. Therefore, the larger droplets are less likely to get prematurely vaporized by the convective currents from the fire. In response to your last sentence...all I can say to that is....Volume of water is what puts fire out, not pressure.
    Show me the proof that this is in fact true, or is it just a perpetual "we use smoothbore because it works better" argument. Seems like in places like Boston and Chicago and Philly fires go out with these funky combination nozzles all the time. Guess they have fires that are a little more friendly to the nozzles . Sure i understand all of the dynamics of the nozzles, but when the rubber meets the road, are these differences really massively impacting the ability of a nozzle to put an every day fire out?

    Thanks for the clarification about volume I kinda knew that already.


    Quote Originally Posted by erics99
    Our 15/16ths SB, while at a lower nozzle pressure, still allows us to "hydraulically overhaul" through the drywall or whatever if needed. .
    Thats because the volume (GPM) and weight of the water flowing is sufficient to provide the impact to break stuff. If you flow 180 GPM at 100 psi it will break through stuff easier.

    Our nozzles do too, but we have a nice assortment of hooks for that task

    Quote Originally Posted by erics99
    But there is no reason why a smoothbore shouldn't be used for master stream ops.
    Sure there is, gas vapor fires, exposure protection, brush fires etc.
    Last edited by MG3610; 10-20-2005 at 06:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610
    Show me the proof that this is in fact true, or is it just a perpetual "we use smoothbore because it works better" argument. Seems like in places like Boston and Chicago and Philly fires go out with these funky combination nozzles all the time. Guess they have fires that are a little more friendly to the nozzles . Sure i understand all of the dynamics of the nozzles, but when the rubber meets the road, are these differences really massively impacting the ability of a nozzle to put an every day fire out?

    Thanks for the clarification about volume I kinda knew that already.




    Thats because the volume (GPM) and weight of the water flowing is sufficient to provide the impact to break stuff. If you flow 180 GPM at 100 psi it will break through stuff easier.

    Our nozzles do too, but we have a nice assortment of hooks for that task



    Sure there is, gas vapor fires, exposure protection, brush fires etc.
    You're right about that last one, I meant to say for applying water to the fire building. But yes, fog pattern for exposures as well.

    Why did you purposely leave out the part where I said "Now with all that said, I believe a fog nozzle set on SS flowing at least 150 GPM will do just fine for a residential building fire?"

    I clearly stated why a soild stream should be used for defensive ops (when attacking the fire) and why your power washing of your house analogy has nothing to do with firefighting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by erics99
    You're right about that last one, I meant to say for applying water to the fire building. But yes, fog pattern for exposures as well.

    Why did you purposely leave out the part where I said "Now with all that said, I believe a fog nozzle set on SS flowing at least 150 GPM will do just fine for a residential building fire?"

    I clearly stated why a soild stream should be used for defensive ops (when attacking the fire) and why your power washing of your house analogy has nothing to do with firefighting.
    Eric, Don't take this personally, I'm just trying to point out some issues here that seem to be recurring and often misunderstood.

    OK, youre right. I left that part out, but its just your opinion anyway. 95 or 125 GPM will work fine too if the fire is contained to the right water flow versus fire ratio (fire flow requirment) and it doesnt matter what kind of nozzle youre using. If you want to stand behind that statment, tell me why YOU think that. Many companies in the Maryland/DC Metro area run 1 1/2" lines with 125 GPM fog tips for their interior house fire ops, seems to work ok.

    The analogy has everything to do with firefighting because people like yourself continually state how smooth bores have better penetration and break through stuff easier. What are you comparing it against? Like I said, cut your pressure washer by 50 PSI and see how well it cleans. Cut your fire nozzzle pressure by 50 PSI and see how well it "penetrates."

    TFT (not my favorite people) has a published report about impact of fire streams that you can view here. http://www.tft.com/tftasp/library/files/lot-107.pdf


    All I ask is can you substantiate your arguments, no harm intended. Just a friendly debate here.
    Last edited by MG3610; 10-21-2005 at 08:08 AM.

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