The Fire Brigade we know today has evolved over many years, thanks to procedure developments and equipment improvements.
We are proud to supply a variety of knives and blades for the UK fire hose manufacturing market, high quality knives and blades are essential to keeping users safe and doing the job right and with rigorous testing involved in this manufacturing process it’s imperative that the cutting equipment used is of the highest standard.
A brief history of fire hoses
In 1666, a devastating fire swept through London, destroying 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, The Royal Exchange, Guildhall and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Great Fire of London changed the way we fought fires in the UK, and we have innovated the process ever since.
Did you know?
"In 1666 there was no organised fire brigade. Firefighting was very basic with little skill or knowledge involved. Leather buckets, axes and water squirts were used to fight the fire – but had little effect." Jane Rugg, London Fire Brigade Museum Curator
In 1673 Amsterdam, the Superintendent of the Fire Brigade, Jan van der Heyden, and his son Nicholaas took firefighting to its next step with the development of the first fire hose. They fashioned 50-foot (15 m) lengths of leather, sewn together like a boot leg. This allowed closer approaches and more accurate water application in firefighting but had its limitations as the pressure and therefore the distance the water travelled was an issue.
In 1721 British inventor Richard Newsham patented the first fire-engine pump, mounted on a wheeled cart. A team called the ‘bucket brigade’ would fill the cistern while another team worked the handles to shoot the water through leather hoses, as far as 135 feet!
In London, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) was formed in 1866, Captain Sir Eyre Massey Shaw became Chief Officer of the MFB and changed it significantly.
He established a new rank system; introduced a new uniform; built new fire stations and introduced advanced technology to improve the service.
Massey Shaw brought in steam fire engines that could pump hundreds of gallons of water a minute through leather hoses. They were well equipped for putting out fires - providing the boilers were kept warm enough to raise the steam and the hoses were well maintained and had no leaks!
Around 1890, unlined fire hoses made of circular woven linen yarns began to replace leather hoses. They were much lighter and as the hose fibres, made of flax, became wet, they swelled up and tightened the weave, causing the hose to become watertight. However, because of their lack of durability, they were rapidly replaced with rubber hoses.
Improvements in the processing of raw soft rubber into a harder, more useful product led to the development of a multi-layer, rubber lined and coated hoses with interior fabric reinforcement, which replaced the older less reliable hoses and closely resemble the modern-day hoses that are in use today.
Modern fire hoses use a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics and elastomers in their construction. These materials allow the hoses to be stored wet without rotting and to resist the damaging effects of exposure to sunlight and chemicals. Modern hoses are lighter weight than older designs, which has reduced the physical strain on firefighters.
The manufacturing process has certainly evolved over the years and is far more extensive than you would believe! Here is an overview of operations used to manufacture a double jacket, rubber-lined fire hose.
Preparing the yarn
There are two different fibre yarns that are woven together to form a hose jacket. The yarns that run lengthwise down the hose are called warp yarns and are usually made from spun polyester or filament nylon. They form the inner and outer surfaces of the jacket and provide abrasion resistance for the hose. The yarns that are wound in a tight spiral around the circumference of the hose are called the filler yarns and are made from filament polyester. They are trapped between the crisscrossing warp yarns and provide strength to resist the internal water pressure.
Weaving the jackets
The inner and outer jackets are woven separately. The inner jacket is woven to a slightly smaller diameter so that it will fit inside the outer jacket. Depending on the expected demand, several thousand feet of jacket may be woven at one time. After an inspection, the two jackets are placed in storage.
If the outer jacket is to be coated, it is drawn through a dip tank filled with the coating material and then passed through an oven where the coating is dried and cured.
Extruding the liner
Blocks of softened, sticky, uncured rubber are fed into an extruder. The extruder warms the rubber and presses it out through an opening between an inner and outer solid circular piece to form a tubular liner. The rubber liner is then heated in an oven where it undergoes a chemical reaction called vulcanizing or curing. This makes the rubber strong and pliable.
Forming the hose
The jackets and liner are cut to the desired length. The inner jacket is inserted into the outer jacket, followed by the liner. A steam connection is attached to each end of the assembled hose, and pressurised steam is injected into the hose. This makes the liner swell against the inner jacket and causes the thin sheet of uncured rubber to vulcanise and bond the liner to the inner jacket.
The metal end connections, or couplings, are attached to the hose. The outer portion of each coupling is slipped over the outer jacket and an inner ring is inserted into the rubber liner.
Once construction is complete, there is a substantial testing process to ensure that the hose can withstand the expected water pressures. But each hose is subjected to a variety of inspections and tests at each stage of manufacture. Some of these inspections and tests include visual inspections, ozone resistance tests, accelerated aging tests, adhesion tests of the bond between the liner and inner jacket, determination of the amount of hose twist under pressure, dimensional checks, and many more.