Booster Lines on Today’s Apparatus

I thought this topic had run its course in the fire service—other than a rural application or when dealing with an urban interface area where the use of these reels is in a more specifically designed apparatus to meet the challenges of these quick-moving wildfires.


But, they have certainly been making somewhat of a comeback on urban and suburban engine companies as of late. These reels are a pricey option for your apparatus and can take up valuable space on any engine company. So, the department should have a defined need and purpose for using this space and the cost.

Another concern would be a defined operating procedure for the department on what type of fire these booster lines can be deployed and operated at. Their low flow can create some problems on fires where they may have been used in the past. The fuel loads and fuel composition that are ever present in our world today can easily overwhelm this line. The volatility of automobile construction is also another area where the technology and materials have overtaken and will easily overpower the booster line. Be careful when adding the booster line to your apparatus without clear direction on its use in the field.


The booster reel can come in a variety of sizes depending on the space available on a department’s apparatus, and this just refers to the reel size. The size of the hose that is placed on the reel also has a number of options. This size line would be determined by the department’s defined use and the exact water flow it is looking for on the fire it is designed to extinguish. The appropriate nozzle on the end of this line will also need to be considered to ensure it matches the flow requirements for the line.

One of the most common uses for the booster line is to quickly deploy a line on brush fires or small outside fires. This allows for a small maneuverable line that can deliver the desired water flow and then be stored back with minimal effort on the part of the firefighters, with the rewind motor doing most of the work. For the urban engine application, it can handle the quick nuisance fires that many of these companies respond to, such as trash fires and small vegetation fires, and allows for a quicker in-service time for those busy companies.

Any department will need to weigh the operational need of the booster line, the cost, and the space requirements on its apparatus. The choice to add this option is based on the department’s call types and needs for this specific type of line. Although I see the benefits of the booster line and the need by certain departments and their geographic response areas, make sure you are using the booster line for what it is designed for and not using the line out of a matter of convenience or complacency.

RICKY RILEY is the president of Traditions Training, LLC. He previously served as the operations chief for Clearwater (FL) Fire & Rescue and as a firefighter for Fairfax County (VA) Fire & Rescue. He is a firefighter with the Kentland (MD) Volunteer Fire Department. He is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board.

No posts to display