Hose reels have come and gone from fire apparatus and at one time were seen on nearly every pumper produced.
Today, fire departments continue to use hose reels on their trucks, with fewer of them carrying handlines but rather holding electrical cabling, hydraulic hoses, and air lines, making reels a flexible piece of equipment that can function for an array of uses.
Rob Motschmann, sales engineer for Hannay Reels, points out that Hannay makes a wide variety of reels used on fire apparatus, including air reels, hydraulic hose reels, electric cable reels, water line hose reels, and large-diameter hose reels. “Our hose reels come in manual, electric, air motor, and hydraulic rewind versions as well as spring-retractable models like those used on electric cable and air hose reels,” Motschmann says.
1 Hannay Reels hose reels installed on this heavy rescue include two hydraulic hose reels in coffin compartments on the top left side of the truck and a reel holding 1¾-inch hose in a rear compartment. (Photos 1-2 courtesy of Hannay Reels.)
2 An example of a Hannay Reels electric cable reel installed on a rescue truck.
When it comes to water line hose reels, Motschmann notes that booster line hose reels seem to be making a comeback on pumpers. “For a while, booster reels went out of style, but we’re seeing a lot more interest in our F series booster hose reels that will handle either ¾-inch or one-inch booster hose,” he says. “We also make the F7100 series reel for dual-agent applications through ¾-inch or one-inch hose that are used to handle water, foam, and/or air to increase the volume of water by aerosolizing it,” he says.
Motschmann adds, “Some departments are using reels to hold 1½-inch or 1¾-inch flat line hose mounted in a pumper’s dunnage area, and wildland engines are carrying both rubber and single-jacket handline hose on reels. We also make large-diameter reels to accommodate 3-, 4-, 5-, or 6-inch supply line hose.”
For hydraulic hose reels, Hannay makes both twin-line and single-point connection hose reels, usually with either 100 feet of twin line or 100 feet of single CORE™ Technology hose, often color coded to match up with specific tools. “Almost all of those reels are power rewind models, typically electric,” he notes. “Rescue reels are being mounted everywhere on fire apparatus: on compartment walls, on ceilings, on floors, on slide-out trays, in coffin compartments, in extended bumpers, and under cabs mounted to the chassis.”
Hannay’s line of reels includes the ELFCR1600 series of power rewind electric cord reels, utility air reels to expand air bags, and breathing air reels to fill up self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air cylinders. Hannay also makes a swing out reel, used mostly on aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) vehicles, which is mounted on an L-shaped arm in an enclosed compartment. “You pull out the reel, and it operates like a hinged door, allowing you to head in any direction,” Motschmann says. “The reel can handle one-inch, 1½-inch, or 1¾-inch hoselines.”
Jerry Medley, vice president of sales and business development for Coxreels, says, “Coxreels offers quite a few different styles of reels, whose design depends on the individual truck builders and what they are looking for. The model we’re selling the most is our 1600 series model meant for multiple applications. Departments are using it on rescues, brush trucks, skid units, and utility terrain vehicle units.” He notes that by increasing the disc size of a reel, you increase the hose capacity. Likewise, increasing the drum width accomplishes the same aim. “We can go from a 15-inch-wide drum to a 30-inch-wide drum with a smaller disc and accommodate a larger hose capacity, like for on top of a brush truck,” Medley says.
3 This Coxreels hose reel holding one-inch booster line hose is installed on a Boise Mobile Equipment wildland engine. (Photos 3-4 courtesy of Coxreels.)
4 Coxreels extra wide hose reels are installed on these two flatbed wildland engines.
The 1600 series is a modular reel, he says, that allows Coxreels to make the drum size larger or smaller, wider or narrower, and the discs correspondingly larger or smaller to accommodate the space available on the vehicle. The 1600 will handle from 75 to 200 feet of one-inch booster or flat line 1½-inch and 1¾-inch hose. “We’ve seen booster reels go from two booster reels on pumpers to one reel, to none, and back to one reel now,” Medley observes. “What’s also changing is where it’s located, and while a lot are still in the dunnage area, we’re seeing them located in a rear compartment in the back of a pumper and, less frequently, in a side compartment.”
Medley notes that a lot of fire departments are choosing either the Coxreels 1275 or 1175 series dual hydraulic reels for mounting in the extended front bumpers of rescue trucks and rescue-pumpers. “Depending on the application, they will carry anywhere from 100 to 200 feet of hydraulic hose,” he says. Coxreels is also making a lot of cable electric reels, Medley points out. “Our PP13 and PP10 electric cord reels are spring retractable, and 50 feet of electric cord is standard on these reels because of their footprint.”
Kevin Eubanks, technical services engineer for Reelcraft, says his company makes “any kind of reel that you need to put fluid or electricity through. Fire apparatus makers want versatile reels that can be tucked away on a truck, so we make any size or shape they need, whether short and squat or tall and narrow. We make the Series 2400 electric motor rewind hose reel that handles up to 125 feet of one-inch hose and has a steel fluid path rated at 3,000 pounds per square inch.”
5 Reelcraft dual one-inch booster line hose reels are located on the rear of this engine built by 1st Attack Engineering. (Photo 5 courtesy of Reelcraft.)
Eubanks adds that Reelcraft has been seeing a lot of demand for ARFF-type hose reels, which can handle dual agents in styles both similar to a typical booster line reel and also in a swing-out frame model that swings out 45 degrees. For brush trucks, Reelcraft makes smaller booster reels that carry one-inch flat forestry hose. “Those reels can be built in any height or width needed because a lot of wildland trucks have more horizontal space available than vertical,” he says. “We make them in both pneumatic and hydraulic drive versions.”
Electricity cable reels are huge in the fire market right now, Eubanks observes. “We make both hand crank and motor-driven electric cable reels, from 12/3 for 20-amp service up to 10/3 for 35 amps,” he says. “We also manufacture a couple of versions of weatherproof electric spring-rewind cord reels that can be mounted on the exterior of a truck, like on a ladder truck where a reel might need to be mounted in the elements and not tucked away in a cabinet.” Reelcraft also makes low-pressure breathing air hose reels, Medley notes, for when firefighters are in an area for an extended period and it doesn’t make sense to wear a heavy SCBA but they can be connected to their SCBA face piece.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and 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.