Has your department ever laid large-diameter hose down the freeway at 65 miles per hour (mph)? Have you ever dumped a crosslay onto the sidewalk while taking a corner? Well it happens, and it should be prevented! I can tell you first hand that it happens when you least expect it. My department, a small rural volunteer department in central Ohio, once laid 1,000 feet of four-inch hose right down the middle of a busy county road at 55 mph, all because we decided to leave our hosebed cover off to allow any remaining moisture in the hose to dry from hose testing the week before. In my case, it ended with a disgruntled crew of firefighters rolling and reloading 1,000 feet of four-inch hose and a department understanding the importance of hose restraints; but it could have ended much differently.
Hose restraints have been around for many years, but until 2006 they were just optional equipment. Today they are required by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, and Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA) member companies have developed many devices and methods to meet the standard. There are numerous available options, from tread plate and aluminum roll-up hosebed covers to heavy vinyl tarps and webbed straps. The options, like fire apparatus colors, can seem endless and even daunting at times, but sometimes considering the simple things like hose restraints when specing your next apparatus can make a world of difference when placing it in service.
HOSE RESTRAINT CONSIDERATIONS
The following simple considerations may prove useful on your future apparatus purchases.
- What type of hose and hose compartment are you trying to envelope? The initial thoughts most tend to have when discussing hose restraints include a hosebed cover or preconnected crosslay webbing. However in most situations, there are several other hose storage areas that must be considered. Examples include the bumper line storage or hosewell on the officer side running board below the pump intake. In all cases, the hose should be secured and completely enveloped on all four sides to ensure it will adequately remain in place while the apparatus is in motion. Preplan all the areas where a hose restraint will be located.
- How is the hose going to be stored in that location and how much? Is it a flat lay, rolled donuts, or a horseshoe lay? This is a key piece that is frequently overlooked but should be considered so you can assure adequate design of the storage space as well as the quick, efficient deployment of the hose while keeping restraint devices clear of personnel, nozzles, and couplings. A great example of this is crosslay covers permanently fastened at the bottom of the crosslay so it falls out of the way of the firefighter as the restraint is released, allowing easy access to the hose and nozzle for and during deployment. This also reduces the chance for the nozzle or hose load becoming entangled in the hose restraint.
- What type of closure device will your restraints use to secure it to the apparatus—snaps, hook-and-loop, buckles, locks? Are these easily accessible from ground level or will someone need to climb on top of the apparatus? Are they easily released with a gloved hand? Adding a grab handle or pull strap to allow quick release of a restraint with a gloved hand is an easy addition that can save you and your personnel valuable time when the pressure is on.
- Another often disregarded question is what external conditions or weather the hose must be protected from, e.g. sunlight, rain, road debris, or ice treatment chemicals. Will the hose be put away wet after use? If you need to have adequate ventilation to allow further drying of an extruded rubber hose, then a webbed strap may be a great solution. If you need to prevent direct sunlight from fading and degrading your hose, consider a lighter colored solid vinyl cover.
- How will the hose be reloaded, and how easy are the hose restraints to reset while on the fireground or even back at the station? NFPA 1901 was modified intentionally to find ways to keep hose secured to the apparatus at all times when in motion, while also looking to minimize the need for firefighters to climb on top of the apparatus. A lower hosebed can be a good solution, but not if a firefighter still needs to climb on top of the apparatus to replace the hosebed cover on a wet or snowy night.
We have learned all too tragically that, once in a while, the old ways of securing hose on apparatus just does not do the job. As a fire service, we have reversed this tradition through changes to NFPA standards. However, some departments end up removing hose restraints after the apparatus is delivered with firefighters stating that they get in the way, aren’t easy to deploy, and are inefficient. Don’t be that department. Take a few minutes to think through how your hose will be stored, secured, and deployed on your next apparatus. Work with your FAMA member company to review the myriad methods that can be used to keep hose where it belongs. A little forethought into some simple options can help finish the job and rest assured that our hose is staying where it belongs.
FAMA’s Buyer’s Guide TC041 Hose Restraints can be found at https://www.fama.org/fire_service/fama-buyers-guide-tc041-hose-restraints/.
FAMA is committed to the manufacture and sale of safe, efficient emergency response vehicles and equipment. FAMA urges fire departments to evaluate the full range of safety features offered by its member companies.