Choosing the Right Fire Hose Material for Your Application

Double Jacket Fire Hose

Fire hose can be classified in different ways, based on such criteria as fire hose material, thickness and method of construction. We offer several types of firehose made with various materials and having specific characteristics.

The basic types are single jacket, double jacket and rubber-covered lay-flat, but these are sometimes combined to create hoses for specific functions. The two woven polyester jackets covering the rubber tube of a double-jacket fire hose provide a higher pressure rating and are treated to resist mold, mildew, and abrasion.

Supply Line vs. Booster Firehose Materials

In a fire, hoses are used as either supply lines or booster lines. Supply lines deliver the main water supply, and boosters branch off and deliver a single stream of water handled by one person or a team. Firehose supply lines are typically at least 3 inches in inside diameter, and may be as much as 6 inches, while booster lines are usually 1-3/4” or 2-1/2”. The supply lines are often called intake lines, and boosters are referred to as attack lines.

Supply hoses must be constructed of fabric capable of holding enormous pressure, but flexibility is less important because the delivery of the water to the fire is done by the attack hoses. For this reason, supply hoses are always reinforced with multiple layers of firehose fabric capable of resisting great pressure, and sometimes that material has little flexibility.

Different Fire Hose Fabric for Different Jobs

Non-collapsible (rigid) supply hoses have a rubber lining, layers of fabric and sometimes wire mesh reinforcement and an outer layer of rubber. For added flexibility, some types of hose use plastic mesh material instead of wire. Additional strength, heat resistance and pressure capacity can be gained by using fire hose material impregnated with polymer reinforcers. Since these additives cause changes in the hose’s flexibility, the types of hose are called “hard” or “soft.”

Each has its good points in the field. Woven fabric, or impregnated, fire hoses are soft and relatively easy to handle, so they lend themselves to repeated use and quick deployment. Hard hoses offer the advantage of non-collapsibility, necessary in places where the water supply is not pressurized.

Fire Hose Material Based on Water Source

When a fire happens in an urban location, municipal water is available at standard pressure. Here, fire hose made of a soft fabric can be used because the water will be at full pressure from the instant it leaves the supply valve.

If a fire happens in a rural location, the most abundant source of water may be a lake or river. Firefighters can put a hose in the lake and pump water out, but if they try it with a collapsible hose, the natural pressure above the hose will make it collapse. Here, a non-collapsible fabric firehose is needed so it will keep its shape when lowered into the water.

Not sure which fire hose material or fabric is right for your work setting? We can help. Contact us today.

About The Author: Keith Eriksen

Keith was the president of Rawhide Fire Hose from 2000 thru 2018. He is a former member of the Wooster Township Fire Department, serving with the Wayne County Underwater Search and Rescue unit. He has extensive knowledge of valves and hydraulics from years of experience in the oil and natural gas production business. In addition to being an avid scuba diver with master diver endorsements he is also an instrument rated private pilot, certified for high performance and complex aircraft. He enjoys landscape and gardening work, gourmet cooking, spending time with his (grown) children and traveling with his wife, Vicki.

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