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Handlines. The essential tool in our arsenal, literally the object we use to fight fire. Big lines, little lines, booster lines, trash lines we all have them, but do we TRULY utilize them to their full potential? When I was just a rookie, going through my initial pump operators training there were a few concepts that were drilled into my head, such as:

- The diameter of the opening must be 1/2 the diameter of the line being flowed.

- The most amount of water that you can get out of that line is that amount from the tip, which must be 1/2 the width of the line.

- Any deviation from this train of thought is considered heresy and you will be beaten mercilessly until your train of thought changes to the socially acceptable standard.

Now, I'm not going to say that we as a service are great at change, as the old adage goes "200 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress" stands firm today, with the exception of a few pioneers. One such pioneer in my local geographical region is the man pictured above, his name was Mike Mauser, who passed away suddenly a few months back and this picture was taken last year during "nozzle-forward" training evolutions. Mike was a very knowledgeable man (this is an extreme understatement), who proved that almost every fire department in the region was under-flowing our handlines years ago, and last year proved that we can exceed our perceived limits of fire flow on our smooth bore lines. By increasing the tip size and increasing the Pump Discharge Pressure we were able to push our flows to limits that we never expected. We did so by doing the following:

1. Obtain up-to-date Friction Loss coefficients from the manufacturer of our hose.

2. Use the C(Q)^2(L) equation to determine our total FL per 100'.

3. Use our PDP equation to determine what our discharge should be (Nozzle Pressure+Total Pressure Loss). 

4. Determine the nozzle orifice diameter flow capacity (29.7 x (diameter)^2 x 7.07) for each tip size.

5. Go out an pull handlines and place in service both outdoors and inside fixed facility.

6. Place an in-line gauge at the nozzle to verify we are flowing 50 psi for nozzle pressures.

Utilizing this method we were able to prove that you could get the traditional "big-line" flows out of a 2" handline, which is becoming nearly identical to the 1.75" lines in use today. With added pressure, you most likely could get these same flows from your "small-lines".  Below is our hose flow chart that we have on our apparatus if you would like to see for yourself:

The abbreviated version:

Blue Line (2" Ponn Conquest):

1" Tip= 210gpm @95psi

1 1/8"Tip= 265gpm @125psi

1.25" Tip= 328gpm @150psi

Yellow Line (2.5: Ponn Conquest):

1.25" Tip= 328gpm @80psi

1 3/8"Tip= 400gpm @90psi

1 3/8"Tip= 502gpm @120psi

What we changed:

- We carry stack tips on all smooth bore nozzles.

- Instead of multiple lines, we can maintain 1 and handle a wide variety of operations.

- We no longer deploy a 2.5" line unless it is for blitz or commercial operations.

- Our crews have more endurance when operating on the fireground, while maintaining exceptional flows.

Down Sides:

- The hose is more prone to kinking (by opening and closing the bail a couple of times most kinks can be worked out).

- Communicating to the pump operator to increase pressure to desired tip size may be difficult if not equipped with a portable radio.

In Conclusion:

This training has helped us increase our operational effectiveness, through proper training with this technique you may find it beneficial to your organization (especially if you're operating with short staff companies of less than 4 men). This is a little hard for newer Diver/Operators to understand because it adds a new level of complexity to an already complex system, but with enough training and utilization you may find this technique to save valuable time and manpower on the fireground. Remember, there are at least 5 different ways to perform any operation in the fire service, this may not work for you or your organization, but don't hesitate to try something new, the future of our service depends on it. Don't hesitate to drop a line at  or ask questions, I always look forward to it. 

Train like your life depends on it, because it does!



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