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What is a Fire Hose?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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A fire hose is a hose which has been designed to deal with very high pressure, so that it can be used to rapidly deliver flame retardants to a fire. Fire hoses are extremely sturdy and heavily reinforced, since they must be able to work at pressure levels which can reach 300 psi (20 bar), with a burst point which can be as much as four times higher. These hoses are sold by companies which produce firefighting equipment, and they can be quite costly.

Being able to deliver water or chemical flame retardants to a fire is a critical part of fighting a fire, both to put the fire down and to prevent it from spreading. The earliest versions of the fire hose date to around the 1600s, when the Dutch first developed this firefighting tool as a replacement for bucket brigades. Over time, the fire hose has evolved to handle more pressure, with hoses in a wide variety of widths being available for different purposes.

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To make for easy storage, fire hoses are usually flat so that they can be folded or rolled neatly. One end of the hose is designed to connect to a water source, with some hoses having adapters to fit various taps. The other end of the hose has a nozzle which can be adjusted to modulate the force of the stream of water. When a fire hose is filled and the nozzle is flipped open, the pressure can be enough to knock someone over, which is why firefighters often work in pairs or groups with a hose.

In large structures or facilities prone to fire, fire hoses are often installed at convenient access points along the walls and connected to a standpipe. If a fire breaks out, someone can open the compartment which houses the hose and turn it on, quickly accessing a supply of water which can be used to contain the fire. These fire hoses are classically folded accordion-style to make them easy to deploy, although some are mounted on spindles.

Fire trucks have loose hoses which can be attached to fire hydrants or standpipes at the site of a fire, along with hoses which can be attached to the truck itself, or to tankers filled with water or flame retardants. Some fire trucks have hoses which are designed to be attached at all times, so that firefighters can pull up, jump off, turn the hoses on, and get going.

This firefighting tool is a critical part of the arsenal at a fire station. Firefighters regularly inspect their hoses to ensure that they are in good working condition, replacing or repairing damaged hoses, as a damaged hose can be a major problem at a fire.

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