Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

FOIRCEV — Result In Brief

Project ID: 222334
Funded under: FP7-SME

Innovation in firefighting hose technologies

A new manufacturing process reduces defects in the heavy-duty hoses used by firefighters. Innovations include a new rubber blend and a continuous vulcanisation process that will cut production costs and enable the production of longer hoses.
Innovation in firefighting hose technologies
Fire hoses are among the most important tools a firefighter has, and they rely on them in the harshest conditions imaginable. Their lives and those of the people they protect, depend on having reliable, durable equipment.

When fighting forest fires or large-scale industrial accidents, hoses often need to extend for several kilometres over rocks, rough ground or spilt chemicals. But hoses are currently limited to around 200 metres in length, meaning that several hoses must be linked together. This adds weight, reduces portability and lowers water pressure.

Hose length is limited because vulcanisation of the rubber requires a table for the entire length of hose to be laid upon — prior to this process, the hose cannot be bent. Another major hurdle for producers is that impurities in the rubber blend and the current steam-driven vulcanisation process often cause defects on the surface of the hose. The industry rejection rate stands at around 30 %, which adds significantly to costs.

The FOIRCEV project addressed these issues, with manufacturers and researchers from several countries analysing the effect of different raw materials and mixing parameters to create a new, optimised rubber formulation.

Combining infrared and microwave ovens, the researchers also developed a new process to vulcanise the hose in a continuous process as it comes out of the extrusion machine. This enables the production of any length of hose and improves the uniformity of the rubber.

These innovations, particularly the ability to produce hoses of any length, will give European manufacturers an edge over global competitors. And with an annual global market of EUR 100 million, FOIRCEV will bring considerable economic benefits.

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