Alan M. Petrillo
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1962, Standard for the Care, Use, Inspection, Service Testing and Replacement of Fire Hose, Couplings, Nozzles and Fire Hose Appliances (2013 ed.), makes a number of changes that affect how fire departments use some of the basic tools and equipment available to them in extinguishing fires.
The purpose of NFPA 1962, says Jim Glatts of FireOne and a member of the NFPA committee on fire hose that pulled together the revised standard, “is to provide a reasonable level of safety for users of fire hose and a reasonable degree of assurance that the hose, coupling assemblies, appliances, and nozzles will perform as designed.”
Glatts points out that updating the standard was important when one considers the many changes in technology and materials that have been incorporated into hoselines, nozzles, appliances, and couplings over the years.
|(1) Fire departments now must system test together all of the elements that
go into a firefighting attack line. (Photos courtesy of FireOne.)
The major changes made in the 2013 standard, Glatts says, include the following:
• Hose manufactured prior to July 1987 shall be removed from service.
• Nozzles shall be service tested at least as frequently as the hose to which it is attached.
• Attack fire hose shall be service tested to a minimum of 300 pounds per square inch (psi).
• Supply fire hose shall be service tested to a minimum of 200 psi.
• System tests shall be conducted at least annually on each preconnected line or any attack line used for interior firefighting operations on a fire apparatus, together with the nozzle or hose-connected appliance it supplies.
• All nonthreaded hose connections shall be provided with locks to ensure against unintentional disconnection.
• Fire hose users and the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) shall establish a replacement schedule for their fire hose. The replacement schedule shall take into consideration the use, age, and testing results of the hose.
Jason Goodale, a company officer with Loveland (CO) Fire and Rescue Authority and NFPA Committee on Fire Hose member, says that although the revised standard covers a lot of ground, he doesn’t think it will cause much difficulty in most fire departments. “There was some discussion before the standard was revised about having a shelf life for hose similar to that for personal protective equipment (PPE) of 10 years,” Goodale says. “The committee found that it would be difficult for many fire departments to work under such a requirement for hose. It could be financially destructive to many of them having to replace a great deal of hose all at once.”
|(2) Supply lines still must be tested annually to 200 psi, which is
unchanged from the previous NFPA 1962 edition.
Glatts points out that hose materials and manufacturing standards have changed over the years, and those elements mean that hose is of higher quality and can take higher pressures. “The earlier version of the standard required attack hose to be tested to 250 psi and supply line to 200 psi,” he says. “The new standard increases the pressure to 300 psi for attack line and leaves supply line the same. However, if a five-inch supply line becomes the sole source of an attack line, through an aerial, for example, then it has to be tested to 300 psi too.”
Darrell R. Lindsey, division chief for Bernalillo County Fire & Rescue in Albuquerque, New Mexico, says the new standard’s biggest impact on his department will be the cost to replace hose that is either pre-1987 or doesn’t meet the increased attack line pressure test. “We have about 4,500 feet of hose that no longer will be testable, most of it three-inch hose,” Lindsey says. “The cost of replacing a 50-foot length of three-inch hose is $400, while it costs $550 for a 50-foot length of five-inch.”
Bernalillo County Fire & Rescue, which covers the unincorporated county surrounding the city of Albuquerque, has a dozen fire stations and 30 apparatus that carry some type of hose. “How many departments can afford to replace that amount of hose?” he asks.
Lindsey points out his department has had a fire hose replacement schedule for a few years, part of a replacement policy program for all the apparatus and equipment it has. “As hose failed, we bought replacement hose,” he says. “Now, as we buy new apparatus, we also purchase a full complement of new hose for that apparatus.”
Brian Kubiel, administrator for Toms River (NJ) Fire District No. 1, runs an all-volunteer department of 220 firefighters operating out of six stations, covering about 25 square miles. Kubiel says Toms River Fire is following an implementation process to replace hose that doesn’t meet the new standard. “We anticipate replacing 60 lengths of 1¾- and three-inch hose that are pre-1987 in age but still passed our hose test,” Kubiel notes.
Kubiel says that although he supports the job the NFPA standard does in terms of safety, he thinks there’s a “two-sided coin to the standard.” For instance, “If a department has procedures in place to use hose the way it’s tested, then perhaps the standard shouldn’t apply,” he says. “If you’re going to designate two lengths of 1¾-inch hose to use foam off the front bumper of your pumper and know you would not exceed 150 psi, that should be considered.”
Regarding the system, nozzle, and appliance tests, Kubiel says his department hasn’t specifically done nozzle tests in the past but would begin doing so. “Our department primarily uses Task Force Tips (TFT) nozzles and appliances and has a good preventive maintenance program,” he says. “If we’ve had issues with a nozzle, we send it back to TFT and they repair or replace it.”
The tests required by the revised standard also will have additional effects on fire departments, Kubiel notes. “It will require more time and effort on the part of firefighters and other staff,” he says, “as well as taking significant monetary resources to replace fire hose because of its age.”
Goodale notes that if departments look at the new standard as an opportunity to use for training firefighters, especially with the system tests, then he believes the standard will be received well by firefighters. “I think a lot of departments already do some kind of system test on their equipment already,” Goodale adds. “The key is we want to be sure that when we use the product, it will perform well.”
Lindsey says his department tests all its hose, ground ladders, pumps, and aerial ladders in the same month and that nozzles, appliances, and hoseline systems will be added to those tests. “We have FireOne come in and test all our reserve apparatus first,” Lindsey says, “and then our first-line apparatus and equipment. This year, to meet the new compliance, we’ll take the nozzles used on each preconnect and test them with each unit as a system.”
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.