When fighting a fire, quality equipment is paramount to the safety of firefighters and the effectiveness of their firefighting efforts. One of the most important pieces of equipment is undeniably the fire hose. While fire hoses are durable, they aren’t invincible and still require proper care to work effectively. Without regular maintenance, mildew, UV rays, abrasions, and other damaging factors can weaken the hose. To keep your fire hose in quality shape and avoid detrimental equipment failures while out on the fire line, here are some tips on proper fire hose care and maintenance.
Properly using your fire hose
The first step to effectively maintaining one’s fire hose is to practice proper usage. Among the biggest threats to the longevity of firehoses are abrasive surfaces. As such, you should avoid dragging it on the ground whenever possible, especially over abrasive surfaces or sharp edges which cut or tear the hose.
If you must drag the hose on the ground, use a tool such as a hose roller or intake strainer to minimize damage. When dragging the hose, avoid dragging it along the edge or fold, which will concentrate the abrasion on the outer jacket. In addition, you should also avoid dragging a hose that has kinked back upon itself, as doing so also concentrates the abrasion where the kink comes in contact with the ground. Instead, drag a flat section of the hose on the ground so that the wear is evenly distributed across a larger surface area.
In addition to being mindful of how you transport the hose, you should also avoid using the hose above its rated working pressure. Surges in water pressure can damage the hose. As such, only use the hose at or below its rated working pressure and slowly raise the pressure inside the hose when the situation allows.
Cleaning and drying the fire hose
An essential step in proper fire hose maintenance is regular cleaning. Clean your fire hose following each use to extend its usable life. The steps to effectively cleaning your fire hose in accordance with guidelines from NFPA 1962: Standard for the Care, Use, Inspection, Testing and Replacement of Hose, Couplings, Nozzles, and Appliances are as follows:
- Unroll the fire hose on a clean surface and gently stretch it out to remove any kinks.
- Thoroughly brush any dirt off of the hose using a clean dry brush with soft or medium bristles. Refrain from using a hard-bristled brush, power washer, or solvent when cleaning the hose, as doing so may damage its outer jacket.
- Complete this process on the other side of the hose.
- If dirt can’t be completely brushed away or if the hose was exposed to hazardous materials such as gasoline or oil, it must be washed and decontaminated using an approved method for the contaminant.
- When washing the fire hose, use a low-pressure water source such as a garden hose.
- Once properly washed, wipe dry hoses that are covered with rubber, nitrile, or other protective exteriors. If a hose doesn’t have a protective exterior, place it on a towel or rack to dry. When using a commercial hose dryer, make sure that the inside of the hose drains entirely. The hose should not be dried under intense sunlight or on hot pavements.
Storing your fire hose
Once the hose has been thoroughly washed and dried, proper storage is the next step in effectively caring for your fire hose. When it comes to fire hose storage, there are many different ways a fire department can choose to store their hose. However, there are general NFPA guidelines concerning proper storage protocol that one should follow to help extend the fire hose’s usable lifespan. Such guidelines are as follows:
- Hoses should be stored in a clean, properly ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.
- Before placing them in storage, thoroughly drain all hoses to prevent mold or mildew from accumulating.
- When preparing the hose for storage, make sure to roll the exposed male coupling threads inside the hose or cover them with protective caps to avoid damage.
- When stored, allow plenty of room for the fire hose to breathe.
- Refrain from storing the fire hose in containers that create an air-tight storage environment such as plastic bags or shrink wrap. Doing so traps moisture inside the hose, which may facilitate mold or mildew growth.
- At least once every three months, change the position of the hoses folded in storage to prevent damage.
Inspecting your fire hose
Another crucial factor in proper fire hose care and maintenance is regular inspection. Inspecting fire hoses after each use and before placing them in storage ensures that they are in working condition. A thorough inspection will identify issues such as mildew growth, loose covers, soft spots, kinks, abrasions, bulges, and tears which can impede its effective usage.
Doing an inspection will allow you to resolve any minor issues to prevent further damage. In addition, uncovering such issues will prevent firefighters from heading out onto the field with defective equipment. After a hose is inspected, update a detailed record of the hose to prevent damaged hoses from accidentally being used in an emergency situation.
- Inspect the hose’s interior at each end. When doing so, pay special attention to any physical signs of liner delamination. When liner delamination occurs, the separated liner can clog the hose nozzle or block pumps, rendering the hose inoperable. To determine if a hose liner has separated from the hose jacket, reach inside the hose and try to pinch the liner. If the liner can be pinched, then the liner is delaminated. If you notice signs of liner delamination, the hose is deemed irreparable. It must be removed from service and condemned.
- Carefully inspect the fire hose’s couplings. When doing so, keep an eye out for defects such as damaged threads, missing lugs, corrosion, loose external collar, improperly operating locking devices, slippage on the hose, and other defects that could potentially impair the hose’s operation.
- When inspecting the hose, ensure that the service test of the hose is current.
- If the hose doesn’t pass the physical inspection, it must be removed from service. Fortunately, many hose defects can be repaired. In cases of minor damage, the hose must receive necessary repairs and undergo a service test. If the damage is irreparable, the hose must be condemned.
If your fire hose has sustained irreparable damage, The Supply Cache can supply you with a new high-quality hose at a great price. In addition to durable fire hoses, we also stock an extensive supply of wildland fire hose accessories such as hose reeling devices and rollers, reliable hose adapters, fire hose backpacks, nozzles, shut-offs and clamps, and anything else you may need for your hose. For more information regarding our products, contact us today.