HANDLING hose lines requires teamwork and practice. The average 2 1/2-inch line delivers from 200 to 250 gpm, or between 4/5 and 1 ton of water a minute. At the same time, the force that is necessary to speed the water forward from the nozzle develops an equal force in the reverse direction. With this knowledge in mind, it is not hard to understand why hose lines are difficult to handle and become more of a problem as the gallonage and nozzle pressure increase.


But the job can be made easier by handling hose lines in the proper manner. Three men are desirable for working a 2 1/2-inch line. Of course, when that number of men is not available, you have to lay out hose so that two men—or even one man—can do the same job.

Often you see two men holding the nozzle. Perhaps it would be better to say struggling with the nozzle. When each man holds a handle of the playpipe, it takes a couple of mindreaders to make changes in the stream direction easily.

Also, when two-thirds of the manpower is concentrated at the playpipe, more effort is required to keep the hose from backing up as a result of reaction.

Look at the photo of the three men on the 2 1/2-inch line (Figure 1). The nozzleman has the hose crossing his body at his hip, which becomes a fulcrum for changing direction of the stream. One hand keeps the hose at his hip while the other is at the tip. This cuts the effort needed to maneuver the tip from side to side or up and down. The second man on the line, who may be the officer in the crew, sees that the hose is taking a natural bend to the ground and puts his weight against the tendency of the hose to back up. The third man keeps the hose low to the ground. In this way, the force of the nozzle reaction is led to the ground within a short distance and at an effective angle. The ground makes a mighty good fourth “man” on the line.


When we speak of nozzle reaction, we mean the total weight of the force working back from the nozzle and tending to make the hose line back up. In this definition, we are not talking of pounds per square inch—just total pounds.

With a nozzle pressure of 50 psi, the nozzle reaction of a 1-inch tip is 75 pounds, 1 1/8-inch tip 90 pounds, and a 1 1/4-inch tip 117 pounds. These forces are enough to toss a hose out of control unless you handle the line safely.

The next photo (Figure 2) shows one way in which a single man can safely handle a 2 1/2-inch line with even a 1 1/4ineh tip. Make a large loop of the hose and pass the playpipe under that part of the loop nearest the fire. Then sit on the part of the loop just in back of the playpipe coupling. With one hand, you can easily direct the hose stream. The more straight hose you have in back of the playpipe, the better it is.

Another way for one man to control a hose line is shown in Figure 3. In this case, the fireman is handling a 1 1/4-inch tip, discharging more than 325 gpm.

The trick is to have the hose back of the playpipe in a straight line for at least 8 feet—more if possible. Then all the man’s weight is on the knee holding down the line. There should be just enough hose between his knee and the playpipe to permit easy control of the stream direction.

One thing you have to remember is to keep the playpipe at a safe elevation at all times. If the pipe is allowed to drop below about a 30-degree angle with the ground, you court trouble. (The reaction will drive you straight back. This is the reason all portable monitors have a safety notch on the elevation quadrant. Don’t forget—shut the nozzle off before you depress the angle below about 30 degrees.)

When manpower is short and hoselines do not have to be moved frequently, these one-man methods of control free men to operate more hose lines or do other work.

One last thought. The shutoff is the nozzleman’s best friend and safety device. If you feel the line getting out of control, shut down immediately. A hose line can’t go anywhere after the flow of water has ceased.

No posts to display