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Fire Hose and Nozzle Handling
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 10:01 PM
Joined: 02/05/2008
Posts: 392

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 deck.

Hose handling
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 hose.  

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.

Nozzle patterns
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@,

Captain Andy
Posted: Sunday, January 15, 2012 9:32 PM
Joined: 17/09/2008
Posts: 93

I've got some basic questions ..... you stated that when the fire extinguisher is about to run out you would then rig hoses. Considering an average 9 Litre AFF portable fire extinguisher lasts approximately 45 seconds, why don't you rig hoses simultaneously as the fire attack party are fighting the fire with first aid appliances? You also implied that after the first extinguisher had been used then you were willing to wait for a fire hose ..... THERE SHOULD BE A CONVEYOR BELT of first aid appliances arriving from all corners of the yacht to fight the fire, so creating a dump from which to fight the fire! The fire should be fought agrressively until it is out!! As you know 45 seconds in a fire is a VERY VERY long time ....... Nuff said on that topic!! Then there is the fact that there is no mention of a man supporting the actual person holding the nozzle. Why?? On my boat the hoses are three inches wide, and at 220 lbs and 6ft 2 I struggle sometimes to control the hose!!
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 3:30 AM
Joined: 05/06/2008
Posts: 88

Too much technicality Tom & Cap Andy...any fire that a hydrant can't extinguish most likely leads to evacuation...once the fire is behind the sub-wall and inside the overheads you are on-board a floating cauldron and its gonna soread like you wouldnt believe. Fire hoses and extinguishers are there for suppression and/or if there's human life trapped on the other side of it....beyond that, launch the life-rafts and tenders and evacuate...everything else is insured
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 10:07 AM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1024

Yah, well said . If the yachts fire suppression system fails to extinguish the fire, jump into the life raft. Perhaps on a big ship , were you can evacuate to a safe part of the ship, you could send in crew with hoses to fight the fire . I cant see this happening on any yacht Ive ever sailed on. Best to avoid bar room heroics and spend your time preparing for an orderly, professional abandon ship, to protect you and your crew. .
Minimise Fire Risks
Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:10 PM
Joined: 30/06/2012
Posts: 35

Tom Please get in touch I have enjoyed all of your input. David