"I'm happy with what I have, so why confuse me with another hose size?" While there have been hundreds of thousands of discussions throughout the fire service on, for example, the flow merits of one nozzle or the penetration qualities of another, it must be understood that the most important...
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This system has proven to be extremely flexible and, with a little training, extremely effective since it allows a single, easily stretched handline to be operated at relatively low pressures for the majority of fires but, has enough cushion built in that enables a first-in crew to flow 21/2-inch-size streams when necessary.
When replacing 2 1/2-inch pre-connects with two-inch line, many departments find that smooth-bores work quite well. One eastern fire department replaced its 2 1/2-inch pre-connects with a two-inch, 300-foot line that operates with a 1 1/8-inch tip. The pump pressure is set to supply 38 psi at the tip, which generates 230 gpm at 72 pounds/force reaction. The stream reaches about 70 feet and, despite the high flow, can be handled quite easily by a trained operator. If more punch is needed, the officer can call for 15 pounds more pressure, which provides an offensive flow rate at 250 gpm.
Another approach would be to utilize the two top tips (one-inch and 1 1/8-inch) from a 2 1/2-inch stacked tip assembly at the end of a shutoff, which can give the nozzle crew some flexibility in fitting the flow rate to the job at hand, utilizing the one-inch tip when maneuverability is a factor and the 11/8-inch tip when a heavier stream is needed.
Some Final Thoughts
With the widespread use of lightweight building components, there is a more pressing need than ever for a quickly deployed line that can realistically and safely flow at least 200 gpm into a heavily involved, heavily insulated interior space. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (the former National Bureau of Standards) has documented the fact that fires are becoming more intense due to increased use of synthetic building and furnishing materials.
Combatting fires in occupancies of the 1990s requires more water to combat more intense fires. What may have worked in the past may no longer prove effective. Consider the fact that to continue to send firefighters inside a structure to combat fires of ever-increasing intensity, with lines that flow a marginal amount of water, is simply increasing the possibility of firefighter injury and death, without having any appreciable positive outcome on limiting fire damage.
Not long ago, police officials realized that the .38-caliber revolver was not effective as it used to be, given the increased intensity of criminal activity and firepower. To help even the odds, most police departments have converted to heavier automatic weapons. So too should fire departments investigate and implement better, more effective tactics and methods of combating more intense fires. Increasing the caliber of initial attack lines to two inches could be the hardware we've been looking for to help increase our combat firepower.
Captain David P. Fornell recently retired as commander of Beckerle & Company, Hose Company, Engine 9 of the Danbury, CT, Fire Department. He is the author of Fire Stream Management Handbook as well as the producer of a number of fire service training videos. Fornell teaches around the country and is a field instructor for the Illinois Fire Service Training Institute.