I have read the many articles in various periodicals and online blogs about the new, super, almost 2 inch, 1 3/4 inch hose and wondered why not just use 2 inch hose? The Wyocena Bureau of Fire, a small rural paid on call fire department has been doing that for over a decade now. We don't use 1 3/4 inch hose or 2 1/2 inch hose at all. We are a 1, 2, 3, 5 inch fire department. The 1 inch is forestry hose, 2 inch is our handline, 3 inch is used for our apartment line, feeding FDCs, and for portable monitors, 5 inch is of course for supply.
So how did we end up here? When we started the journey we were a fire department that was struggling to enter the 21st century. We had old trucks, even older hose, and nozzles that were used and abused junk. Our first leap was to buy some tried and true Akron 30-60-95-125 gpm TurboJets for use on our 1 1/2 inch hose. Then we made the leap to 1 3/4 inch hose but kept the TurboJets, essentially it was low friction loss 1 1/2 inch. Then a new chief liked TFT automatics and we went that way. Our flows increased but problems developed. Anytime we tried to flow 150 gpm or more nozzle operators would gate the nozzle to a more controllable flow. We went to some classes on low pressure nozzles, Elkhart Chiefs to be specific. We decided that we needed to take a bigger and better look at nozzle options. So we borrowed some nozzles, Low pressure Elkhart Chiefs, a 95-125-150-200 Akron TurboJet, Dual Force TFT, and what we were told was the new style 1 inch smooth bore FDNY tip. We did a purely open and honest test with firefighters making the decision on what they wanted. What we found was the low pressure nozzle won out with the smooth bore right behind that. We bought 200 gpm at 75 psi low pressure Elkhart combination tip and an Elkhart pistol grip shut off with a 15/16 tip. We sold the TFTs we had to finance the low pressure nozzles.
We actually stumbled onto the 2 inch when a department whose chief was a friend of mine wanted to trade 200 feet of 2 inch for 200 feet of 1 3/4. We had done some research after learning about 2 inch in other classes we had taken. We made the trade and purchased a 250 at 50 Chief low pressure nozzle for that initial 2 inch line. What we found is our firefighters were walking past the 1 3/4 inch crosslays and going for the rear 2 inch preconnect. After it was used successfully on a few fires the chief made the decision to replace all of our 1 3/4 and 2 1/2 inch hose with 2 inch hose. Again luck was on our side as another nearby fire department was looking to sell around 2200 feet of 2 inch for a great price. We bought it and placed our 200 gpm at 75 psi nozzles on it, but wanted to change the 15/16 tip to 1 1/4 to get the high flow we wanted. What we found is that at that time Elkhart did not offer a 1 1/4 tip on the shut off we had. We went to a local machine shop and had our 15/16th tips bored out to 1 1/4. The machine shop did an excellent job and even all these years later we have had no problems with these nozzles.
The nozzle we use as normally stowed on the pre-connects. The 200 gpm at 75 psi combination nozzle is attached.
With the combination nozzle removed we have a 1 1/4 inch slug tp that we flow 300 gpm at 42 psi nozzle pressure.
The 1 1/4 inch tip as it was machined out for us from the original 15/16 inch tip.
We are now on our second generation of 2 inch hose. It is Key nitrile rubber in 100 foot sections with 1 1/2 inch couplings. We have set our flows as 160 gpm at 55 psi nozzle pressure, 200 gpm at 75 psi nozzle pressure, and 300 gpm from the 1 1/4 inch slug tip at 42 psi nozzle pressure. We have used this for over a decade and the amazing thing is there is no clamor for a return to 1 3/4 or 2 1/2 inch hose by our line firefighters. This system was born out of a time when we were critically short handed and pulling the wrong sized line would mean we were stuck until later arriving firefighters or mutual aid arrived. With our set-up we could pull one line and flow from 160 to 300 gpm with a simple pump pressure change.
Do we think this is the answer for everyone? Not at all, but we do know that in many cases our hard hit with the 1 1/4 inch tip on our 2 inch hose is a higher flow that many departments are getting from their 2 1/2 inch lines.
The one thing I strongly recommend, whether you are contemplating a change in hose or nozzles, or keeping what you have but want to know exactly what you are flowing is to do your own testing. When we looked at changing nozzles we used a flow meter and a pitot gauge to know exactly what were flowing at exactly what engine pressure. When our new engine came in we tested the pre-connect discharges the same way using a flow meter and pitot gauge. Then we labeled our pre-connect gauges with label tape with the necessary pressures for our flows. No more guessing, no more remembering, and no more looking for the pump chart. The ultimate keep it simple idea.
Know your equipment, train until you can't get it wrong, and stay safe out there.