Kinked fire hose: Why it's deadly and how to avoid

Pinching the supply line can spell serious trouble for an interior attack crew; here are ways to keep those lines kink-free

Updated Oct. 11, 2018

Composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, water is one of Earth's basic elements. In the fire service, it's our main suppression tool as it is readily available in large amounts and very effective at cooling burning fuel.

Fire departments will secure their water supply from two basic sources: static source or a pressurized source (hydrant). No matter what type of water supply is established, maintaining it is essential to fireground operations.

When there is a kink in the hose line, flow and pressure are reduced by almost 50 percent.
When there is a kink in the hose line, flow and pressure are reduced by almost 50 percent. (Courtesy photo)


There is one water-supply killer — kinks in the supply hose. Kinks in hose lines are the number-one cause of firefighters who succumb to the effects of fire due to rapid heat elevation and/or spread and size of fire.

We use water to not only suppress fire but also to protect ourselves from the effects of fire. This protection comes from consistent and adequate pressure and flow to the nozzle. This water supply must be maintained at all times so that no interruption takes place at the nozzle.

When there is a kink in the hose line, flow and pressure are reduced by almost 50 percent — this is a significant reduction. Having two or more kinks only make the reduction greater.

These kinks are the small dominos that line up one after another heading towards handicapping the fireground and the firefighters on the end of the hose line.

Kink-free hose lay

Whenever a supply line is laid out from a hydrant to the pump, the firefighter at either the engine or the hydrant needs to take the time to flake out the hose so that no kinks will be formed when the hose is pressurized.

This can be accomplished by creating loops likened to a figure eight shape when the hose has to change direction, or by creating large curves as opposed to sharp bends.

Each hydrant can be different in terms of the pressure it can supply the engine; there is never a guarantee that the supply pressure form the hydrant will be enough to push out the hose so that kinks will be removed.

With small hose lines, the pump operator can increase the pump pressure in the line to help remove any small kinks that may have formed. But when it comes to the supply line, we are at the mercy of the hydrant.

To stop the dominos from lining up in this instance, train and exercise the muscle memory to hit the hydrant, lay the supply line, remove the kinks and then charge the line with water. 

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