Hose Testing.

From Kestrel, who notes she had enthusiastic permission to have these posted. Click for full size!

These are hoses waiting to be tested.

The hoses are laid out straight and hooked up to a machine. It fills them with water, and then measures the pressure. Hoses have different pressures they are rated for. These particular hoses will have 400 pounds of pressure. When they fight fires, they will not use near that much pressure – they will only use 125 to 150 pounds of pressure, because if it’s higher than that, the firefighter will not be able to control the hose.

Some hoses are rolled up afterwards, and some are folded carefully right on the engine ready for use. That box they are folding the hose into goes onto the engine.

The ladders have to be tested too. Nobody wants to climb a ladder, in full turnout gear, carrying a charged hose, and have it fail. The ladders are subjected to 500 pounds of pressure, which is carefully measured with gauges.

The engines have to be kept full of water and fuel, so they are ready at all times to go on a fire if necessary. This is engine 2 getting filled with water. This is a fairly small engine and “only” holds 750 gallons of water. That’s 6,000 pounds, or three tons. The bigger engines hold 1,200 gallons, which is 9,600 pounds. That’s a lot of mass… never pull out in front of a fire engine! They have a hard time stopping suddenly.

A close up of the control panel on engine 2. Fire engines have a lot of knobs on them…

Back at the station, all done with hose testing for another year.

© Kestrel, all rights reserved.


  1. says

    So cool!

    By “not able to control the hoses” I am picturing a fireman thrashing around at the end of a tethered water-rocket -- is that about right? I believe some people do that for fun.

  2. says

    Firehose cloth is great stuff, btw. I have some, somewhere in my scraps collection. I used to cut it and stack it and soak it in polyurethane resin to make knife handles.

  3. kestrel says

    Yes… that is correct, Marcus. There is the story of a friend who is a fairly healthy 300 pounds working with a hose that was at too high of a pressure, and being lifted right off the ground and swung around. He did not dare let go, because the hose would have smacked him good, not to mention the bystanders. The engineer had to get the pressure correct to fix that situation.

  4. blf says

    My father, for awhile, was the plant engineer at a factory which made extruded polystyrene (“styrofoam”), often then moulding it into products (such as (this may tell you how long ago this was) egg cartons). The stuff is extruded as giant sheets — from memory c.2 metres wide and hundreds(?) of metres long. The extruded sheets are coiled up into giant rolls (for storage, and for shipping or feeding into the moulding machinery).

    The big problem is the stuff is easy to ignite, burns quite fiercely, and floats on water. (You can make something similar to napalm with the stuff.) Hence, every year or so, the local fire department would, along with inspections and whatnot, hold a drill: A roll would be deliberately ignited (in a safe place) and the appliance (fire engine) would practice containing the inferno and extinguishing it.

    One year this did not go quite right. As I now recall my father explaining what happened, they decided to use a small-diameter (relatively-)low pressure hose connected to the appliance’s internal tank to “fog” the burning roll and extinguish it. Which didn’t work. Which didn’t even come close to working. As bits of burning polystyrene dripped off the roll and started to float merrily away, still burning (and producing a thick “oily” black smoke), the poor guy(s?) manning the hose were looking more and more worried and flustered.

    Eventually, they deployed a larger, higher-pressure hose connected to one of the factory’s hydrants to bring the demonstration / exercise back under control.

  5. kestrel says

    @blf: oh yikes… that would be scary.

    Firefighters do some really wild stuff for training purposes. Deliberately setting a car on fire and putting it out, sitting in a trailer in full turnouts while a “controlled” flashover fire is going on, crawling blinded through a building filled with smoke, to see if they can find the door etc. One has to have a great deal of nerve to live with someone who does that sort of thing on purpose.

  6. says

    Interesting to see the hoses rolled up from one end. A long time ago I was told to roll up flat hoses/straps from the middle, so you could just drop them on the ground, pull on both ends and get a perfect twist free hose/strap. It also makes it easy to inspect both ends at any time without unrolling.

  7. kestrel says

    @Ice Swimmer: these hose couplings come in different sizes too, this just happens to be the size that is used for a small fire department in the middle of nowhere. I think most of these are 2 1/2″. On your link I saw one was labeled in inches… maybe the rest are in centimeters? Hard to say if one is “better”. I know these work, I’m sure those others do too, and that’s the whole point.

    @Lofty: As far as unrolling, I watched the guys at the hose testing set the hose roll up, and give it a shove and a tug and they all just very neatly unrolled in a basically straight line. I would not have thought that would happen, but it did, over and over. The ones on the engines are usually folded from what I’ve seen. (Please note, I myself am not a firefighter, that would be the Partner.) So again, two different systems, but they both work.

  8. Ice Swimmer says

    kestrel @ 8

    I’m not a firefighter, either. It seems that the sizes of couplings in the site are both in millimeters and inches, but gaskets and caps seem to be only in inches.

    Back when I was in a job in which fire hoses were used (for cleaning), we talked about 2 inch, 3 inch and 4 inch hoses. The official dimensioning is probably in millimeters.

  9. Ice Swimmer says

    kestrel @ 8

    And yes, I guess using just one size make a lot of sense if it’s otherwise feasible. Imagine speeding to a fire site and noticing that the hoses are wrong size and won’t fit either the hydrant, or the fire engine coupling and all adapters are at the firehouse.

  10. kestrel says

    @Ice Swimmer: LOL, yeah… but they carry a LOT of stuff with them. The engines are really well organized all over the place, and so the firefighters can bring along the most unlikely things… the Partner has had his specially worked on by a local welder to hold *even more* stuff in an even more organized way. They do train hard so they don’t panic on a scene, but still, it’s much easier to have everything well organized in case someone does panic. Showing up and not being able to do your job would be pretty panic-inducing indeed!

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