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How to Specify a Fire Hose
Fire hose is perhaps the most important piece of equipment carried on a fire appliance. It is the fire fighter’s lifeline. That is why it is so important for buyers to specify fire hose that will not fail at a critical moment. This is becoming increasingly difficult, however, because of the growing number of fire hose products on the market. While many maylook like the leading products, appearances can be deceptive! And what do the performance levels and independent approvals claimed by manufacturers and suppliers really mean? Here Clair Maxwell explains how to specify a hose that can be relied on to give long and dependable service.

By Clair Maxwell
Angus Fire


ire fighters place huge demands on layflat delivery fire hose. This is notonly in actual use with pumps and vehicles, but also in storage, transport and handling. Perhaps the most important of these demands is that water pressure is not lost during an emergency as a result of kinking, leakage or damage. Alongside these considerations, purchasing officers need fire hose that will give a high return on the initial investment by providing a long operating life with minimalmaintenance. It should have independent third party certification of compliance with any standards or approvals claimed by the manufacturer, and of course cost must be as low and competitive as possible. Before selecting a fire hose, a purchasing officer needs to understand the terminology that is frequently used to describe the main types of hose. This originates from the British StandardsInstitution (BSI) BS 6391 Specification for nonpercolating layflat delivery hoses and hose

assemblies for fire fighting purposes. Primarily concerned with the performance characteristics of fire hose, it is the industry standard worldwide. The BSI Kitemark provides an independent endorsement that a layflat delivery fire hose has reached the BS 6391 Specification. The Kitemark licence scheme for firehoses requires manufacturers to submit their product to rigorous examination and testing to BS 6391 by an independent authority, and also to operate a quality management system accredited to BS EN ISO 9000 to ensure consistency of quality. Samples of product are randomly selected by BSI from a manufacturer’s current production or from the open market and tested to confirm full compliance with BS6391.To maintain its Kitemark licence a manufacturer is monitored through regular audits of its product and quality management system. It is this combination of product and system assessment which makes the Kitemark so highly regarded worldwide.




Displayed on the product, the Kitemark gives fire hose buyers visible evidence ofthe product’s quality, safety and performance as defined in BS 6391. It also shows that the product is independently and regularly tested by BSI to the approved specification. Any manufacturer can claim compliance to a British Standard, but for a fire hose buyer to be confident of compliance there is no better assurance than insisting on the Kitemark in Requests for Quotations and obtaining thelicence number for further verification on the BSI web site

Hose categories In BS 6391 fire hoses are classified into three categories. Type 1 and Type 2 hoses comprise a circular woven jacket or reinforcement made from a synthetic fibre with an impermeable internal elastomeric lining. Type 1 hoses are those “to which no external treatment has been applied to the reinforcementand are therefore liable to absorb liquids and need to be thoroughly dried after use”. These types of fire hoses are sometimes called “conventional hoses”. Type 2 hoses are those “to which an external elastomeric coating has been applied to the reinforcement to give some protection against the absorption of liquids and to improve resistance to abrasion of the reinforcement”. The more advanced...
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