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Fire Retardant Line Hoses for Forestry Fire-Fighting Applications

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Tougher, better fire hoses

New firefighting hoses and connectors withstand the high temperatures of forest fires for longer. Firefighters can now more effectively fight fires, reducing their destructiveness.

Climate Change and Environment

Forest fires affect Europe, especially Mediterranean countries, leading to substantial economic costs. On average, such fires cause approximately 400 injuries and 15 deaths annually, mostly affecting firefighters. Hoses are the key equipment item, and the better a hose can resist the hazards of fires, the safer and more effective firefighters will be. Current hoses are relatively limited in their resistance to high temperatures and other fire conditions, though there is great demand for hoses with superior capabilities. To address this, the EU funded hose development research through the 'Fire retardant line hoses for forestry fire-fighting applications' (FIRELI) project. The project started in 2008 and included nine partners. It aimed to develop two fire hose products, both of which have been achieved and exceed the initial performance targets. One, a fire-resistant hose, can withstand 400 degrees Celsius for more than 15 minutes, greatly surpassing competitors. This is in addition to other stipulated properties, including low weight and abrasion and chemical resistance. These results have been achieved via research yielding a new rubber. The material is a polyvinyl chloride nitrile butadiene rubber (PVC/NBR) matrix employing PVC plasticisers, fire-resistant components and intumescent additives. As intended, the new material is non-toxic and produces little smoke. Furthermore, the hose consists of four extruded layers of rubber; only the outermost layer contains fire-resistant additives, which balances fire resistance and cost. The FIRELI hose is ready to enter commercial production, and comes in 25 mm and 75 mm diameters. FIRELI's second product, a hose coupling, is a single piece that can be manufactured in different sizes and from various metals. Its lighter, more versatile and easily locking design improves usability in numerous ways, and its smooth exterior prevents catching on ground debris. Most importantly, it reduces pressure loss at hose joints by 30 % compared to current products. The coupling can also be manufactured to various optional configurations, meeting the demands of both premium and low-cost markets. FIRELI's work resulted in superior tools for fighting forest fires. The products will also provide a commercial opportunity for European industry, leading to a large export market.

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