As you know when it comes to extinguishing fires, water is almost exclusively used-with few exceptions. The method of delivery has always been through discharge evolutions made up of hose, appliances, and nozzles. I like to think of the nozzle as an applicator for applying the water for fire extinguishment.
Over the years, there have been several types of nozzles used for firefighting with various results. The Vindicator nozzle developed by First Strike Technologies, although not new, is one of the latest nozzles to enter into the fire service. It is neither a combination nozzle nor a smooth bore nozzle. I’ve heard some people describe it as a large-bore nozzle; however, it varies from a smooth bore in many ways.
|The Vindicator nozzle consists of two parts: the ball valve and the barrel. The ball valve has a 13⁄8-inch waterway with flow capabilities up to 500 gpm, while the master stream nozzle flows up to 1,000 gpm.|
The Vindicator nozzle is a fixed-gallonage nozzle in that it delivers a specific flow at a specific nozzle base pressure. It has a flow range that delivers a workable stream varying from low to high with an accompanying nozzle base pressure. The nozzle base pressure varies from 40 pounds per square inch (psi) to 100 psi, offering a very wide flow capacity range and optimal stream performance for the Heavy and Blitz Attack models.
The Vindicator nozzle only provides a straight stream. It consists of two parts: the ball valve and the barrel. The ball valve has a 13⁄8-inch waterway with flow capabilities up to 500 gallons per minute (gpm) while the master stream nozzle flows up to 1,000 gpm. Inside the barrel there is a stream shaper and a stream deflector that develops the water into a workable firefighting straight stream, which offers lower nozzle reaction characteristics. The handline barrel portion of the nozzle utilizes 1½-inch couplings; the master stream has 2½-inch couplings. The barrel has air intake ports at the base similar to a foam nozzle designed to introduce air into the fire stream, which creates large droplets of water.
There are four Vindicator nozzle models:
- Light Attack: 90- to 200-gpm flow range and nozzle pressure range of 50 psi at 95 gpm to 100 psi at 200 gpm.
- Heavy Attack: 175- to 425-gpm flow range and nozzle pressure range of 50 psi at 250 gpm to 100 psi at 425 gpm.
- Blitz Attack: 250- to 500-gpm flow range and nozzle pressure range of 50 psi at 325 gpm to 100 psi at 500 gpm.
- Master Attack: 675- to 1,000-gpm flow range and nozzle pressure range of 65 to 85 psi.
The following flow tests were done by an independent agency to compare the performance capabilities of a Vindicator Heavy Attack nozzle against a 15⁄16-inch smooth bore tip. The tests included flow delivery, nozzle reaction, and flow impact.
|Shown here is a Vindicator Master Attack nozzle flowing 1,000 gpm.|
Flow Delivery and Nozzle Reaction
The flow tests for water delivery were done a little differently than you might be used to. They were based on the nozzle reaction of the 15⁄16-inch smooth bore tip at 180 gpm: 62 pounds. The purpose of this test was to get as close as possible to the 62-pound nozzle reaction number with the Vindicator nozzle and then register the flow. The tests resulted in 240 gpm with 60-pound nozzle reaction for the Vindicator Heavy Attack nozzle. The Vindicator nozzle was able to flow 60 more gpm at the same basic nozzle reaction as the 15⁄16-inch smooth bore tip flowing 180 gpm.
This test was done using an impact plate attached to a certified load cell that measures actual impact in psi. This test is meant to show which nozzle has the best penetration capabilities based on the power of the stream. Both nozzles were tested at their respective flows. At 180 gpm, the smooth bore with a 15⁄16-inch tip had an impact measurement of 53.4 psi. The Vindicator Heavy Attack nozzle, at 240 gpm, had an impact measurement of 60.2 psi.
Let’s take a look at some nozzle comparisons to see how the Vindicator stands up:
- A combination nozzle flowing 150 gpm with 100-psi nozzle base pressure has a nozzle reaction of 76 pounds.
- A combination nozzle flowing 250 gpm with a 100-psi nozzle base pressure has a nozzle reaction of 126 pounds.
- A combination nozzle flowing 250 gpm with a 50-psi nozzle base pressure has a nozzle reaction of 89 pounds.
- A smooth bore nozzle with one-inch tip flowing 210 gpm with a 50-psi nozzle pressure has a nozzle reaction of 79 pounds.
- A smooth bore nozzle with a 11⁄8-inch tip flowing 265 gpm with a 50-psi nozzle pressure has a nozzle reaction of 99 pounds.
- A Vindicator Heavy Attack nozzle flowing 240 gpm with a 45-psi nozzle base pressure has a nozzle reaction of 60 pounds.
What do all these numbers tell you? Basically, the Vindicator nozzle offers the flexibility of an interior attack line with flows reaching the capabilities of a 2½-inch line.
|Shown here is a Vindicator Heavy Attack nozzle being operated at the end of a 1¾-inch handline.|
The air inlet ports at the base of the barrel help create the large droplets of water in the fire stream. Besides this capability, the air inlet ports also let you use the Vindicator as a foam nozzle. Depending on the foam manufacturer, you can expect foam expansion ratios ranging from 7:1 up to 15:1 without a reduction in stream performance.
Based on the preceding, the Vindicator nozzle offers the following desired capabilities of a fire nozzle:
- High flows.
- Low nozzle reaction.
- Rapid heat absorption.
- Durability and reliability.
- No maintenance other than cleaning.
- Foam capabilities.
Kirk Allen, CEO, First Strike Technologies, states that the Vindicator nozzle should not replace every nozzle on an engine company. It’s just another tool in the toolbox.
PAUL SHAPIRO is the director of Fire Flow Technology. He is a nationally recognized instructor on large-flow water delivery. He is also a retired engineer from the Las Vegas (NV) Fire Department. He has authored numerous articles for fire trade magazines. He has been in the fire service since 1981, is the author of Layin’ the Big Lines, and produced the first in a series of videos on large-flow water delivery.