Fire Hose Descriptive Essay
Effective fire prevention and firefighting requires the use of a wide range of equipment, apparatus, and appliances. One of the appliances that are commonly used during firefighting activities is the fire hose. A fire hose refers to a large hose which is usually connected with a fire hydrant to the place of fire during a firefighting process. The International Fire Service Training Association describes a fire hose as a high-pressure sluice or conduit that carries water from a fire pumper or hydrant to a scene of fire in order to extinguish it (52). A fire hose is usually attached to a fire engine, fire pumper, or a fire hydrant during firefighting. Under normal working condition, a fire hose can output a pressure of between eight and twenty bars while the bursting pressure ranges from fifty to eighty three bars (International Fire Service Training Association 60). Fire hoses are usually connected to each other using brass connectors.
Types of Fire Hoses
Fire hoses can be broadly categorized into two major groups, namely discharge hoses and suction hoses. The discharge hoses are used to transport water under high pressure from fire engines, fire pumpers, or fire hydrants to the scene of fire in order to extinguish it. Discharge fire hoses can work under positive pressure. Examples of discharge hoses are attack hoses, supply hoses, relay hoses, forestry hoses, and booster hoses. On the other hand, suction hoses are used for sucking water from unpressured sources such as dams and rivers through the use of a vacuum (International Fire Service Training Association 66). Suction hoses include fire hoses that operate under negative pressure.
Historical Development of the Fire Hose
It is established that the fire hose was invented during the seventeenth century by the Hero of Alexandria. According to International Fire Service Training Association, the Hero of Alexandria based the model and design of the fire hose on the double-action piston pump of the Ctesibius (70). On the other hand, Gilbert claims that the history of use of fire hoses for extinguishing fire can be traced back to the 1860s when it became increasingly used in putting out fire (113). Earlier, people used to carry water to the fire scenes using buckets. When the fire hose was developed and introduced, it was used with hand pumps. Later, steam pumpers were made and could use the fire hose during firefighting.
According to Gilbert, the first fire hose was designed and developed in 1673 by Jan van der Heyden and his son Nicholaas (115). Jan van der Heyden was a superintendent of the Fire Brigade of Amsterdam in the Dutch Republic (Gilbert 119). The first fire hose to be used in the United States of America was introduced in Philadelphia in mid 1794 (International Fire Service Training Association 71). The International Fire Service Training Association further asserts that the first fire hose, designed and developed by Jan van der Heyden and his son, was made of canvas (71). The canvas was found to be less durable. As a result, leather was used to sew the hose in order to make it stronger. However, the sewn leather fire hose also burst frequently when it is subjected to high pressures. In early 1800s, members of the Human Hose Company in Philadelphia invented a new fire hose made of fabricated materials of leather that were tied up together with rivets of copper (Action Training Systems 77). The washers of the fire hose were also changed to make it more reliable and durable when being in use.
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Between 1890 and 1900, new unlined fire hoses made of circular woven linen yarns were developed for use and leather fire hoses were abandoned. The linen yarns fire hoses were much lighter and easier to use. However, fibers of the unlined hoses were made of flax, which could become wet and swell up, hence, causing tightening of the weaves of the hose. Consequently, the hoses could become watertight and inefficient during firefighting. The unlined fire hoses were rapidly replaced with new fire one made of rubber. According to International Fire Service Training Association, the main reasons for the replacement of the unlined fire hoses were their inability to last for a long time and their increased inefficiency when being in use caused by tightening of the weaves (80). The International Fire Service Training Association further asserts that the rubber fire hoses spread rapidly among municipalities and were widely used for firefighting and fire protection in various parts of the world (83). The rubber fire hose continued to be used both on interior hose lines and hose tracks until the late 1960s (International Fire Service Training Association 84). Although the use of this model of rubber fire hose has massively reduced, it is still used by some municipal fire service providers in different parts of the world.
In mid 1980s, the invention of the vulcanization process led to the development and manufacture of more reliable and durable rubber fire hoses because the rubber could be processed into a harder and more useful form. As a consequence, there was a slow but steady shift from the use of unlined linen fire hoses to rubber lined fire hoses with interior coatings and fabrications. Although the newly developed rubber fire hose was bulk and heavy just as the leather hose, it was more durable than the unlined linen hose. The design of the lined rubber hose is also used to design delivery hoses used in various industries today such as the oil industry where oil is transported through huge pipelines and the airline industry where it is used for delivering fuel to airliners.
Today, a wide range of natural and synthetic fabrics and elastomers are used in the development and manufacture of fire hoses. According to Action Training Systems, the use of natural and synthetic fabrics and elastomers during the construction of fire hoses enables them to become more reliable during use and be stored when wet without decomposing (105). These materials have also enabled modern fire hoses to be more resistant to the harmful effects of sunlight, extreme heat from fires and other chemicals that they may be exposed to during and after their use. The modern fire hoses are also much lighter in weight. It has greatly helped in reducing and lessening the physical strain that firefighters may endure when using the hoses during firefighting activities. Moreover, modern fire hoses also have devices called fire hose vacuums that help in removing air from the interior of the hose. The extraction of air from the fire hose helps in making it much lighter and easy to pack or load in firefighting apparatus.
Most modern hoses are manufactured using synthetic fiber such as polyester and nylon. They are also coated with synthetic rubbers that provide extra resistance and protection against sunlight and high temperature when exposed to fire and chemicals.
Usage of a Fire Hose
The fire hose is mainly used for carrying water from a fire engine or pumper to a fire to extinguish it. After using the fire hose, it is recommended that any water that remains inside it should be drained or driven out by hanging it to a dry state. The matter is that standing water that remains inside it after use can destroy it, hence, rendering it unusable or inefficient for use in the future. It explains why most modern fire departments or stations have high standing structures that are used for hanging fire hoses to dry in order to prevent them from damage when the water remains. In some cases, a fire hose can be used for controlling large crowds of people, especially protestors. One of the most notable incidences in history, when the fire hose was used to control crowds, was the civil rights protests in Bull Connor in Alabama, U.S.A., in 1964 (Landau 127). In that case, it was used to disperse the protestors. Although the use of a fire hose to control crowds is still common in some countries across the globe, the practice is no longer seen in the United States of America.
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Thus, it should be noted that the development of a fire hose was an important invention that has greatly helped in firefighting as well as enhancing the provision of fire protection services across the globe.