From Water Bucket to Modern Fire Hose

Picture in your mind a fire that took place during Colonial Times and you’ll likely envision bucket brigades. In fact, individual homeowners were required to keep special leather buckets on hand so they could help to transport water from a nearby well or lake to the scene of the fire. As time evolved, the bucket brigade disappeared in favor of hoses made from riveted leather, hand-operated pumps and brass nozzles and fittings that connected the hoses. At the time, it greatly facilitated the ability to effectively fight fires.

Fire hose designs improved over time. As new materials and manufacturing methods were developed, the leather hoses were replaced with rubber hoses. Eventually even these were replaced with more durable synthetic fibers that were lighter and more flexible. But firefighters soon learned that they could be much more effective if they could move greater volumes of water, so larger hoses were developed. Early hoses were 2 ½ inches in diameter, and they were expected to flow 250 gallons of water per minute. By comparison, today’s hoses are often 5 inches in diameter and can easily deliver more than 1,500 gallons of water per minute. And because the newer hoses are made with lightweight materials, they are no heavier than their predecessors.

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