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How to Define Fire Streams for Firefighters

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Today’s subject is about fire streams and the different types of fire streams.

A fire stream is defined in terms of the size of volume of water. A small fire stream is considered to be a volume of stream less than 40 gallons per minute.

Hand-line streams are those used when men are fighting fire. Hand-lines are usually 1-1/2 inch hose to 2- ½ inch hose. Streams supplied by 1-1/2 inch hose will have capacities to discharge 40–125 gallons per minute. Hoses that are 2-1/2 inch can discharge 125-300 gallons per minute. Nozzles that flow more than 300 gallons per minute are not recommended for hand-lines.

A master stream is a large volume of water in which more than 300 gallons per minute is discharged.

In the fire service, we have types of classifications of fire streams; they are solid, fog streams and broken streams. A broken fire stream is when a solid stream is broken up into fine drops of water for protecting exposed buildings. Other broken streams are produced by different types of nozzles such as foam nozzles, cellar nozzles, and directing two streams together in midair; reflecting a stream off a wall or by flat spoon-bill nozzles. Most of the time when a broken stream is used, it is to make a water curtain of protection. A water curtain forms the shape of a fan or curtain to protect and shield firefighters from a really hot fire or combustible materials. Broken fire streams are also used when fighting a basement fire or when fighting a fire in a partition. The next stream most fire fighters call a fog stream but it can also be called a spray stream. A fog stream is formed when a firefighter turns the nozzle tip to make the water being discharged form a cone shape. The word fog means 'condensed water vapor that is like a cloud'. We also use the term fog nozzle to describe the type nozzle we use to make a fog stream. Solid streams for the fire service require a specific nozzle to perform certain functions. A solid-stream nozzle is made to produce a compacted stream of water. This nozzle is designed to reach areas that cannot be reached by the standard fog nozzle. This solid-stream nozzle is made to discharge water further and higher than the fog nozzle.

When a fire engine arrives at the scene of a fire it is the Company Officer's job to choose the right hose with the right nozzle. It is also his job to decide what type of stream should be used in the fire attack. The Fire Captain has to make these split-second decisions quickly but also be mindful of himself and his crew.

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Posted on Sep 21, 2009

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