Wildfires are destructive and chaotic, which means one solution doesn’t always work for every wildfire. Wildland firefighters have different tools they use for each fire, and one such tool is the fire hose nozzle. One kind of nozzle may be perfect for a certain wildfire, but that same nozzle could prove ineffective in other situations. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but with the right tips for selecting the proper fire hose nozzle, you can stay prepared and fight wildfires with the best nozzle for the job.
Different Types of Fire Hose Nozzles
Before jumping into selecting the right fire hose nozzle, it’s important to break down the differences between the nozzle types. Using the wrong one can lower your ability to put out the fire and potentially put you and the other wildland firefighters in danger. When you understand and recognize these differences, you’ll be better equipped in the field when it comes time to decide which nozzle to use.
Automatic Spray Nozzles
This fire hose nozzle is also known as a constant pressure spray nozzle. These nozzles are easy to use, and they offer different stream options so firefighters can use what’s best for the fire they’re currently dealing with. But regardless of the pattern, the nozzle supplies a constant pressure for a consistently straight and steady steam.
However, while there are positives, there are still downsides. For example, if the pressure is too low, the nozzle may not open enough, resulting in a weak stream. Similarly, if the pressure is too high, it can lead to an inconsistent stream and a difficult-to-control nozzle.
Constant Gallonage Spray Nozzles
Much like it sounds, the constant gallonage spray nozzle is a type of nozzle that discharges water at a constant gallons per minute (GPM) rate. However, this consistent GPM is only possible when you have a water source with constant pressure. Much like an automatic spray nozzle, the constant gallonage nozzle is also easy to use. Plus, there are some different stream settings, such as a straight stream or a narrow and wide fog setting.
Depending on the manufacturer, you can get different nozzle pressures, ranging from 50 to 100 psi. The higher the pressure, the more water you use. It’s important to remember, though, that you will have a greater force pushing the hose operator back with higher pressure.
Also, these nozzles are great, but you can run into issues because of the internal components. The number of components can make transportation tricky, and there’s a greater likelihood of deposit buildup or mechanical failure.
Smooth-Bore Spray Nozzles
Unlike constant gallonage nozzles, smooth-bore nozzles are simple and don’t have many internal parts. These hose nozzles are often useful in the field because of their reach and low engine-pump pressure. They’re also quite inexpensive.
While these nozzles can be great for a lot of instances, they do have a drawback in that the water pattern isn’t changeable like it is with the other nozzles. Also, the water won’t absorb as much heat, so the operators need to move the nozzle around to try and create a broken-up water pattern that better absorbs heat.
Different Spray Patterns
One of the biggest factors that will help you determine which fire hose nozzle you should use is whether you need different spray patterns. For example, sometimes firefighters need to spray water in more of a fog pattern, as this helps protect your team while also absorbing heat. The smaller droplets create a steam effect that is much better at heat absorption, and one of the best ways to get this fog is with an adjustable nozzle.
Therefore, even though smooth-bore spray nozzles are effective at their job, constant gallonage or automatic spray nozzles are the best bets. By being able to adjust the nozzle, perhaps with a spinning teeth configuration, you can better break up the water for steam conversion and heat absorption.
Another variable to consider that can help you determine which fire hose nozzle to use is its overall durability. Depending on the fire you’re fighting against, you could be out in the field for a long time. While every hose nozzle type is effective at its job, some are better equipped for longer service than others. For long jobs, you may want a much simpler and easy-to-use nozzle, such as the smooth-bore nozzle.
Conversely, a nozzle like the constant gallonage nozzle has many more internal parts, and with more water coming through, there’s a greater likelihood that it could malfunction. When fighting fire for a long time, the less complicated the nozzle design, the better. Simple nozzles are tougher, and even though they can’t achieve the same fog pattern as their counterparts, they can still be effective through some clever operator movement.
Lastly, you may need to adjust which nozzle you plan on using depending on how many firefighters you have available. For example, if you don’t have many firefighters, you may want to use a smooth-bore or automatic spray nozzle. The constant gallonage nozzle is an effective one to use in the field, but because of the high GPM, it delivers a greater reaction force.
If you’re not responding properly, a high-reaction force will mean you can’t control the hose and properly aim it at the fire. Therefore, while a constant gallonage nozzle can be incredibly effective, it will only hurt you without sufficient workforce. In cases of limited workforce, a smooth-bore or automatic spray nozzle is better.
Selecting the right fire hose nozzle in the moment can be tricky without the right knowledge, but it’s one of the most important things a wildland firefighter can do. However, more important than selecting the correct wildland fire nozzle is actually having it on hand. At The Supply Cache, we’ll help you take care of that. We’ve got a variety of fire hose nozzles and tips so you can use the right nozzle in any situation and fight dangerous fires before they get out of hand. Check out our website today and contact us for more information!