Choosing the Right Fire Hose Types for Your Application

Double Jacket Fabric Fire Hose

Today, most fire hoses are made of a nitrile rubber tube that is insulated by a woven polyester fabric jacket instead of the cotton fire hose canvas used in the past. However, 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 fire hose made with various materials and having specific characteristics.

The three basic types of fire hose are:

  • Single Jacket
  • Double Jacket
  • Rubber-covered Lay-flat

These hose types can be combined to create hoses for specific functions.

Single jacket fire hoses has only a single layer of spun polyester fabric encasing the internal rubber hose. This type of hose is better suited for periodic or temporary use, and long-term storage. This is typically the most economical option of the three basic hose types.

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. The double jacket fire hose, on average, offers twice the service life of a single jacket fire hose.

The rubber covered fire hose is built to resist ozone, oxidation, and most chemical/petroleum products. The nitrile rubber tube is covered with a 100% synthetic yarn reinforcement that’s designed with “through-the-weave” construction to ensure the hose will not divide when exposed to fuels, oil, and most low concentrated chemicals.

Supply Line Fire Hose vs. Booster Fire Hose

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.

Large diameter hose (LDH) are a popular choices for supply lines due to their ability to withstand big-flow even with low pressure. These LDH fire hoses are able to transport larger quantities of water over longer distances with less friction loss than a smaller diameter hose.

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.

There are a variety of different fire hose types for specific instances. Industrial mine hoses are suited for underground mining operations and are engineered using a single jacket exterior woven from polyester to reduce weight and increase flexibility, while resisting gravitational pressure and hydrolysis of the hose. Whereas marine washdown hoses are suited for rough outdoor conditions with frequent exposure to raw, fresh and salt water on ships or offshore facilities. Industry specific hoses can ensure that you are best prepared to handle any situation.

Fire Hose Type Based on Water Source

When a fire happens in an urban location, municipal water is available at standard pressure. Here, municipal 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. For these situations you may want to consider a forestry fire hose that is made to resist the abrasive, irregular terrain in those areas. 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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