Frank C. Schaper, deputy chief,
St. Louis (MO) Fire Department
Response: I read Lloyd Layman`s Indirect Attack, written in the early 1950s. He came out of the U.S. Coast Guard after World War II with this “wild” idea that you could put a fire out using water spray. His idea caught on, and the rest is history. It amazes me that today`s fire service still argues about the merits of smooth-bore nozzles vs. automatic or combination nozzles.
In my 30 years as a member of the St. Louis Fire Department, I have had the opportunity to use both smooth-bore and automatic or combination nozzles. My experience tells me that they both put out fires. Traditionally, the combination nozzles were used for interior firefighting and the smooth-bore tips for outside stands.
Our department continues to carry both types of nozzles. For day-in and day-out firefighting, our department uses combination nozzles on our 1 3/4-inch preconnects and 2 1/2-inch preconnects. Interestingly, the fog tips can be removed, giving us a 7/8-inch straight tip on the small line and a 1 1/2-inch straight tip on the big line. Initially, the smooth-bore tips were used for outside firefighting, but now we simply pump the line and use the combination nozzles without swapping out to the straight tip. We find water application is adequate when pumping at 100 to 120 psi engineer pressure. If I had to pick between the two, I would pick the combination nozzle because of its versatility. Moving down a hot, smoky hallway with two 1 3/4-inch handlines–one set on fog and the other on straight stream–is hard to beat. I have to think that Layman had a pretty good idea.