How to Choose Between Single and Double Jacket Hose

Knowing the distinction between single and double jacket fire hoses is essential to determining what is best for your project and application. If you are new to buying hoses, it may surprise you to learn that although there are attributes that set these hoses apart, their construction is quite similar.

Before you understand their differences, it’s important to understand their common construction, so let’s start there.

Single vs. Double Jacket: Cut from the Same Cloth

Double Jacket Fire Hose Cross Section

Double Woven Jacket Fire Hose Cross-Section

Single jacket hose and double jacket hose are made up of the same two components: The inner lining and the outer jacket(s). The inner lining in a modern fire hose is a single ply of EPDM rubber. The characteristics of EPDM rubber are its durability and resistance to chemicals. The rubber lining itself, although designed with a tensile strength of 1800 PSI, will not hold fluid pressure. Without a jacket, the tube itself would essentially blow up like a balloon and burst!

The linings are inserted and pulled through the jackets. They are then subjected to a steam vulcanizing process that bonds the jacket to the lining. The woven jacket consists of ring spun polyester yarns that are engineered to resist abrasion, mold, and mildew. The jackets are woven on large circular looms specific to the size of the fire hose they will ultimately become.

The jacket gives the hose its strength and pressure rating. While the majority of jacketed hose is white, there are a variety of colors available. To achieve coloration, the jacket is impregnated with a dye, also known as hypalon coating.

Differences Between Single and Double Jacket Hose

Simply put, the difference between single jacket and double jacket fire hoses is the number of polyester jackets. The double jacket hose has an extra layer (“jacket”) of woven fabric that boasts a higher wearability in comparison to the single jacket hose. It has an impressive burst test of 1,200 PSI and a 400 PSI service test.

In comparison, a single jacket fire hose is burst tested to 900 PSI. In order to meet NFPA requirements, single jacket hose must be service tested annually to 300 PSI.

Pros and Cons of Double and Single Jacket Hose

Although the double jacket hose is more costly than the single jacket, the extra layer helps protect it from burns, wear, and other damage. As a result, it posses a service life that is double that of its single jacket counterpart, living up to its name in more than one way!

However, if you aren’t using the hose for a heavy-duty application or if the need is temporary, you may choose the more economical single jacket hose. It’s also a little lighter, which is important in situations when the hose must be carried. For that reason, single jacket hoses are often used in forestry and for wildland fires.

Types of Single and Double Jacket Hoses

Did you know that there are many types of single jacket hoses as well as double jacket? Each type has it’s own construction and unique application.

1. Rack and Reel

Single Fire Jacketed Hose Rack Assembly

Rack Hose Assembly with Single Jacket Construction

A Rack and Reel fire hose is technically a single jacket hose manufactured to meet a specific application. Hospitals, airports, hotels, and other municipal or public buildings typically have these hoses pre-folded in a pin rack or cabinet for fire emergencies.


MSHA Approved Mine Hose

MSHA Hose for Mine Applications

MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) approved hose is also another type of single-jacketed hose. MSHA hose meets certain specifications and has the ability to self-extinguish when a flame source is removed. The lining of a MSHA hose is made of synthetic rubber, which does not produce toxic gases when ignited.

3. Mill Discharge

Mill Discharge Hose in Single and Double Jacket

Mill Discharge Hose Available in Single or Double Jacket

Last but not least is the mill discharge, sometimes dubbed the contractor hose. The mill discharge hose comes both single jacketed and double jacketed.

Though similarly constructed to regular single and double jacket hoses, these variations have a slightly lower pressure rating. Often times, construction sites, parks, or agriculturists will employ these hoses for undemanding purposes such as watering crops, draining a pond, or simply transferring water from A to B. It is important to note that for washdown purposes, a rubber-covered hose is the way to go.

When it comes down to it, choosing the correct hose for your application is crucial, both for your safety and for your project’s timely completion.

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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.

5 Responses to How to Choose Between Single and Double Jacket Hose

  1. It always makes me feel more comfortable in a building knowing that the management there has taken the time to provide emergency prevention equipment. I’ve seen these rack and reel fire hose set ups before. I like them because they appear very simple to operate considering how effective they look. After all, a big hose means a lot of water comes out of the end.

    • Jasper.

      Good observation, but let me clarify just a few points to make sure that I’ve presented this clearly. Rack and Reel hose is a single jacket hose. Typically the tube or liner is “sprayed” in polyurethane. Most….other jacketed hose use a EPDM / Rubber tube. The rubber simply last longer under like conditions. Being as that rack and reel hoses are required to be inspected every 3 to 5 years, depending on the state, a less expensive, polyurethane lined hose is most economical.

      A bigger, that is, larger diameter hose “can” deliver more water, IF the pressure is available. So, for a 50′ length of hose, with 90 PSI pressure……larger diameters will in fact deliver more water. However, they will also be significantly heavier, due to the weight of the water column.

      You are correct. rack and reel hose is relatively simple to use, albeit, training is highly suggested. Turn on the valve, grab the nozzle and head down that hallway. When the hose length reaches the end, a lever is tripped and water starts to flow. Hold on!!! That nozzle can whip around and do some damage, should you let go of your grip. Thanks for your thoughts and your post.

    • Jasper

      Allow me to weigh in on this important issue. There is currently a movement away from “rack” hose in office buildings and businesses, as the hose is required to be tested every three to five years, depending on the state it is located in. The brass valves used are known to leak a bit, therefore water gets into and sits in the hose for long periods of time. In time it will rot away at the lining. When the hose is tested, it will fail and need to be replaced. Typically it is less costly to just replace it rather than go through the expense of testing, just to find out it needs replaced anyway.

      Also, think about it. Who would be using it? A business guy, secretary or perhaps a maintenance person, none of whom are probably trained properly. Pretty good case.

      On the other hand, the same thing applies to fire extinguishers in those cabinets formerly inhabited by rack hose assemblies. They too, must be inspected, annually and hydro tested periodically as well, depending on your locale. Here again, who will be using them? Chances are, they are not properly trained either.

      The horns of a dilemma, as they say.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Jasper

      These “rack” hose stations have been a point of contention for some time now. I too, like seeing them, especially in high rise buildings, but that is only because I’ve been trained to use them. In the hands of someone not properly trained it could lead to a hazardous situation. That is to say, it may be a better option to vacate the building versus trying to fight the fire. I suppose a waste basket fire cold be brought under control the average “Joe”, however those 1-1/2″ hoses, fully charged with typical water pressure can take a bit of muscle to control. Many ordinances now require fire extinguishers in place of the rack hoses. While a bit easier to handle they are limited in contents supply and still require proper training to use correctly.

      This debate will continue on as no legislator wants to be responsible for creating a situation where an individual, albeit, not trained, “could” have maybe reduced a situation, had they access to a working rack hose.

      Thank you for commenting to our post.