Fire Hose and Nozzle Handling
You’re underway 50 nautical miles from the nearest port when
the general alarm sounds and the captain passes the word, “Fire in the laundry
room!” You rush to the laundry and find the chief stewardess hitting the fire
with a dry chemical extinguisher. The extinguisher is almost empty and she is
backing away from the blaze, shouting, “Rig a hose from Station 2!” You turn to
carry out your orders but realize that you don’t know where Hose Station 2 is
located — not to mention that the last time you handled a hose was years ago.
Generally, on a yacht, the fire hose stations are hidden in
cabinets or closets. There should be signage on the cabinet or closet door indicating
there is a hose inside. As a well-trained crewmember, you should know where all
hose stations are located, with or without signage.
Laying out and filling the hose
When an extinguisher is insufficient to put out a fire, the next option is to
rig a fire hose. When the hose is being laid out, it should be extended without
any sharp bends or kinks. If the hose is not laid out as straight as possible,
as the water flows, the pressure can move the house. The rapidly filling hose contains
stored energy and, if handled incorrectly, the water pressure surging through
the hose can cause it to bounce or swing resulting in possible injury to personnel.
Once the hose is laid out as straight as possible, the hose
can be charged or filled by slowly opening the valve. Crack the valve open
slightly and stop, then let the hose fill with water before fully opening the
valve. If the valve is opened quickly and fully the hose will jump off the
Once the hose is charged, the nozzle man should place the hose under an arm — whether
left or right, the hose tenders must all be on the same side of the hose as the
nozzle man. The hose should be about an arm’s length in front with the nozzle in
hand with hose firmly clamped under the arm. The nozzle man’s feet should be
about shoulder’s width apart with knees bent, acting as shock absorbers and aiding
with balance when the hose pressure is pushing back.
Nozzle positions and reactions
With the free hand, the nozzle man twists the nozzle or pulls the bail back
slowly to open the water flow. Just as opening the supply valve slowly allowed
for better control of the laid out hose, opening the nozzle slowly also allows
for better control of the charged hose and allows any air to escape from the
Now, a main concern is avoiding “water hammer.” If the
nozzle is opened or closed quickly, the flow stops suddenly and “water hammer”
occurs, sending sudden pressure back through the hose. If this backpressure is
severe enough it could rupture the hose or piping, or cause damage to the fire
pump. Once all air is released from the hose, open the nozzle fully and test
the nozzle positions. Turning the nozzle all the way to the left will deliver a
“protection” pattern. Turning the nozzle to the right will narrow the stream, and
turning the nozzle fully to the right will deliver a solid stream. An aid to remembering nozzle position and the
water pattern it produces is this firefighting expression, “Left for life”
gives protection,”Right to fight”, gives solid stream.
When the nozzle is first opened there is a reactive force
called Nozzle Reaction. This force is created by set the water pattern of the
nozzle and the fire main pressure produced by the ship’s pump. When the nozzle
is set to a protection pattern, the interior opening in the nozzle is wide open
and in this position there is not much reactive force. As you adjust the nozzle
to the right the interior opening becomes smaller and the reactive force
increases because the water cannot flow through the nozzle fast enough. This
reactive force can throw the nozzle man’s balance off center and cause him or
her to fall or possibly lose control of the hose and drop it. Remember that
bent knees absorb some of the force and allow for better control of the hose
and pressure or reactive force.
The correct nozzle pattern to use on a fire is determined by the fire you are
trying to fight. A cabin fire should be fought with a solid stream or extremely
narrow fog pattern. The solid stream allows the water to reach the seat of the
fire quickly. The pressure of the stream also helps move material out of the
way for better access to the fire.
If foam is being applied for a flammable liquid fire, the
nozzle pattern must be in a fog pattern —about half way between the protection
pattern and solid stream. It must be in this position so that air can be drawn
in, allowing the foam to expand as much as possible while fighting the fire.
When water flows through the nozzle a venturi effect is created. This effect
creates a vacuum and pulls air into the water stream. The air is needed to make
the bubbles in the foam solution expand.
The fog pattern is essential because it will not disturb the
liquid surface of a flammable liquid fire.
A solid stream would disrupt the fuel surface, allowing more of the fuel
to be vaporized and making the fire larger. The solid stream will also cause
the flammable liquid to spread or splash, causing the fire to grow and spread.
While fighting a fire, the greater number of personnel or
hose tenders you can have on the hose line, the better. If manpower is an issue,
there should be no less than two people on the hose. Moving the hose through a
vessel is a challenging and often difficult task. Anything and everything will
cause the hose to get caught or snagged. Anywhere a hose goes up, down or around
a corner is a choke point. The round fire hose will not easily go around a
square corner without help. Having
several crew on the hose is a real benefit.
To familiarize your crew with the use and proper handling of the hose and
nozzle, practice this drill: Have the crew charge a hose on an open deck and
allow them to experience the ship’s fire main pressure and how to handle the
hose, operate the nozzle and understand Nozzle Reaction. Have crew move the
hose through a stairwell and maneuver the hose around fixed objects. Observe closely to ensure that crew are
holding the hose correctly and their feet are in the correct position. During
these exercises, ensure that water is not discharged in the yacht interior!
By Tom Jones, training Manager at Resolve Maritime Academy,
1510 S.E. 17 St., Suite 400, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33316, Tel: 877-975-3473, info@ resolveacademy.com,