Proper cleaning, use, storage, testing, and inspection of fire hose.
Proper care, maintenance, and testing of fire hose can make all the difference when facing a fire emergency. In this blog I’ll outline a broad overview of proper cleaning techniques, use, storage, inspection and testing procedures to maximum the usable life of your fire hose.
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Various organizations – whether fire departments, rock quarries, oil rigs, manufacturing facilities, or residential high rises – will follow different tactics when maintaining and testing fire hose. While this blog will touch on many topics, a more comprehensive guide is available from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), see the link below.
Proper cleaning techniques:
Like most things, fire hose has a limited life and users should carefully monitor the hose’s condition. Simple cleaning techniques employed regularly can extend the hose’s usable life considerably.
- At a minimum, use a clean, dry brush with soft to medium bristles and gently remove dirt and debris from the hose.
- If hose requires additional cleaning, you should unroll the hose on a clean surface and stretch it out being careful to remove any kinks.
- Fully examine the hose for cuts, tears, or other weak points. If found, replace hose. • Fill a bucket with room-temperature water and mild soap, use a soft to medium bristle brush and gently clean the exterior of the hose.
- Gently flip the hose and repeat.
- Use a garden hose, rinse the hose on both sides.
- Use an appropriate method such as a hose tower, hose dryer, slanted hose rack, etc., to fully dry the hose.
- Rubber or nitrile covered hose can be wiped dry.
Proper use of the fire hose during emergency situations can also extend usable life. Avoid dragging hose over sharp objects or abrasive surfaces. Avoid dragging hose on the edge or fold, rather attempt to drag on the flat side which ultimately spreads the abrasion over a larger surface area. Each and every time a fire hose is used, look for tears, rips, or bulges that can indicate a weak spot.
Hose should be used at or below its rated working pressure. Avoid surges in water pressure – ramp up slowly!
Fire hose should be stored in an area that avoids direct sunlight and is highly ventilated. All hose should be drained and completely dry prior to long-term storage. Avoid damaging the male coupling threads by rolling the male coupling on the inside or using a protective cap. Fire hose is designed to breath – avoid storing in shrink wrap, plastic bags, or other plastic material. This keeps moisture in and can result in mold or mildew growth.
Testing and Inspections:
Inspections and hydrostatic tests should be performed regularly to conclude that a hose is in good working order. Visual inspection should include looking for loose covers, kinks, soft spots, cuts, tears, bulges, or other variations in the hose’s exterior. All of these can result in hose failure during an emergency. Couplings and/or fittings should be inspected regularly. Any movement between coupling and hose renders the hose unusable.
Insurance Service Office (I.S.O.) requires annual testing of fire hose. This process includes removing all fire hose from storage or apparatus; labeling and recording all information for each length of hose; inspection of all hose, nozzles, couplings, and appliances in accordance with NFPA 1962 standards; rolling and repacking of fire hose in the same place and manner as it was removed.
According to 2013 edition of NFPA 1962, Standard for the Inspection, Care, and Use of Fire Hose, Couplings, and Nozzles and the Service Testing of Fire Hose, hose manufactured prior to July, 1987, must be removed from service. It also has added some additional requirements including the service-testing of nozzles, requiring attack fire hose to be service tested at a minimum of 300 PSI and supply line hose at a minimum of 200 PSI. Additional new requirements are in this edition of NFPA 1962. We highly recommend you procure a copy.
For additional information, see:
Latest edition of NFPA 1962, Standard for the Inspection, Care, and Use of Fire Hose, Couplings, and Nozzles and the Service Testing of Fire Hose
Keywords: Fire hose, proper care, inspection and testing, cleaning fire hose