Alan M. Petrillo
Manufacturers have been enhancing the design of their firefighting nozzles during the past few years to give firefighters a variety of choices for the end of the line during firefighting operations. These include two-piece nozzle configurations; high-flow low-pressure versions; compressed air foam system (CAFS) nozzles, which can deliver suppression agent in either smooth bore or fog patterns; and more robust, easy-to-use models that are intuitive.
Simplicity and Reliability
David Durstine, vice president of marketing for Akron Brass Company, points out that nozzles are different than most other components and equipment used on the fireground. "On an interior attack, the nozzle is the direct lifeline a firefighter uses to protect himself from the fire, so safety is our number one concern in terms of quality," Durstine says. "The nozzle has to work 100 percent of the time."
As part of its manufacturing process, Akron Brass tests and calibrates every nozzle it makes, he notes. "Each one is 100 percent flow- and pressure-tested before it leaves our facility to make sure when it ends up in a firefighter's hands, he can be assured it will work as it was designed to work."
In the world of nozzles, Durstine says, Akron Brass has identified a trend in the past few years toward high-flow low-pressure nozzles being used in structural firefighting. "High-flow low-pressure nozzles have a lower reaction force, which means the nozzle is easier for the firefighter to hang onto," he says. "With reduced personnel requirements and availability in some fire departments, that kind of nozzle allows a firefighter to work longer and not be as fatigued because he's not battling as much reaction force. We are seeing the trend toward these nozzles continuing."
Durstine notes that Akron Brass has tried to keep the nozzles as simple as possible during the past two years when enhancing its nozzles. For example, he cited the company's Assault fixed-orifice nozzle, which allows both fog and straight stream operation and can be stripped and cleaned in a minute, lubricated, and reassembled. "The Assault is designed to be very easy from both a usability standpoint and also in terms of maintenance and cleaning," Durstine observes.
|(1) The Saberjet nozzle made by Akron Brass Company is engineered with two waterways that allow it to function as a fog or smooth bore nozzle. (Photo courtesy of Akron Brass.)|
Rod Carringer, vice president of sales and marketing for Task Force Tips (TFT), says his company introduced an entirely new nozzle line at the 2012 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC)-the G-Force series. "G-Force is a low-cost high-quality product for the world marketplace," Carringer says. "In the past, we have made 800 different nozzle styles for U.S. market fire departments, and this new platform allows for 8,800 configurations for our 72 nozzles."
The G-Force nozzles are configurable up to 150 gallons per minute (gpm) in fixed, selectable, and automatic versions, Carringer notes. The nozzles, which are made in either high- or low-pressure models, will be two-piece configurations that incorporate a slide valve; debris screen; and nylon color-coded pistol grips and bail handles as standard features and come in a choice of stainless steel spinning teeth, TFT rubber fog teeth, and cut metal fixed teeth for different fog pattern styles.
|(2) High-pressure nozzles are gaining in popularity. The Akron Brass style 4808 is rated up to 1,500 psi and calibrated from 13 to 250 gpm. (Photo courtesy of Akron Brass.)|
Carringer says the G-Force nozzles have been successfully introduced in the European and international markets, where TFT received considerable input on the design. The company test marketed the G-Force nozzles in Indiana for four months in 2011 and garnered fire department and dealer input on the line from that effort as well.
"We think the high performance of the nozzle at a relatively low cost should resonate with fire departments, especially those facing budget troubles," Carringer points out. TFT also will continue to offer its three legacy lines of nozzles-the Mid-Matic automatic series, Thunder Fog selectables, and Metro fixed gallonage series.
|(3) The Elkhart Brass Chief, a fixed-gallonage low-pressure nozzle, flows between 15 and 350 gpm at 50-, 75-, and 100-psi pressure ranges. (Photo courtesy of Elkhart Brass.)|
Ready Out of the Box
Brien Welsh, product market director for Elkhart Brass, says his company has been making enhancements to its nozzles by making them more robust and increasing their performance and ease of use. "We also have increased the training we offer around our product platforms," Welsh points out. "We try to make products that are intuitive and work right out of the box."
He notes that what Elkhart means in terms of ease of use of its nozzles is that "the controls are intuitive. You can use our nozzles hard and then put them away, knowing that they don't need a lot of maintenance."
He adds that Elkhart Brass has one of the wider breadths of products offered in the industry because of its series of legacy nozzles, such as the Chief, a fixed-gallonage low-pressure platform that flows between 15 and 350 gpm at 50, 75, and 100 pounds per square inch (psi).
"We preach flow and hydraulics," Welsh says, "by knocking down the Btus with gallonage and getting a lot of water on the fire as quickly as possible. Low-pressure nozzles help the firefighters handle the line."
|(4) The Elkhart Brass Select-O-Matic automatic nozzles flow from 75 to 325 gpm at 75 and 100 psi. (Photo courtesy of Elkhart Brass.)|
Elkhart's automatic nozzles "are more about the pattern and the stream in varying gallonages and pressures," Welsh adds. The Elkhart automatics are the Select-O-Matic line, flowing from 75 to 325 gpm at 75 and 100 psi.
Durstine says his company continues to see growth in the CAFS field. "Foam, as a whole, is a growing area," he says, "but CAFS is more so. Fire departments are trying to do more with less, and CAFS helps them achieve that goal."
He notes that the Akron Brass SaberJet CAFS nozzle offers the benefits of a smooth bore and fog nozzle in a single unit. "The SaberJet has all the functionality of a fog nozzle and is still a smooth bore because it's engineered with two distinct waterways," he says. "There's a three-position bail handle to adjust between them for CAFS so you're not stripping the water from the air stream. Also, if you need to, you can use the nozzle in a protective fog mode and don't have to shut down to change from smooth bore to fog like you would with a break-apart nozzle."
|(5) The Task Force Tips (TFT) G-Force nozzles are available in fixed, automatic, and selectable models flowing up to 150 gpm. (Photo courtesy of TFT.)|
Durstine says that ultra-high-pressure nozzles are also seeing more use, especially in wildland and military applications. "Firefighters are using low flows of 17 to 20 gpm at pressures upward of 1,500 psi," he says. "Injecting foam concentrate into that stream allows them to get an effective firefighting solution. One of the bigger benefits is that the superfine droplets of water do a good job of cooling a fire quickly."
He notes that the 5/8- and ¾-inch hoselines used with the ultra-high-pressure nozzles have very little reaction force for the firefighter. "One firefighter can handle the hoseline very easily and use it as effectively as other firefighting lines."
|(6) TFT makes the FoamJet nozzle specifically for handling foam applications. (Photo courtesy of TFT.)|
Because the operating pressure is so high, Durstine adds, the typical high-pressure nozzle Akron Brass makes-the style 4808-is rated from zero to 1,500 psi and calibrated from 13 to 250 gpm in handline versions.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.