How to Test a Fire Hose

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Second only to sprinkler systems, high pressure fire hoses serve to control, reduce and eliminate fires that ravage businesses and commercial centers. Regular testing not only guarantees that hoses meet all inspection standards, but also provides peace of mind—that in the event of a fire, all of the necessary tools are on hand to save valuable property and lives. In addition, fire hose testing reduces the chance of property damage or serious injury resulting from non-working fire hoses that slow or stop the flow of water because of hose kinks and blocked nozzles or that burst under high pressure because of torn or worn jackets.

Contact your local fire department for local, state and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) testing and inspection codes and requirements in your area and for the contact information for local fire hose testing firms or your local city fire inspector's office.

Purchase a copy of the NFPA publication, "NFPA 1962: Standard for the Inspection, Care, and Use of Fire Hose, Couplings, and Nozzles and the Service Testing of Fire Hose," (See Resources.) If your local fire department cannot provide you with testing and inspection codes as it serves as the main testing and inspection standard in the industry used by fire inspectors, insurance companies, municipalities and states.

Call your local city fire inspector for a list of local licensed and NFPA certified fire hose testing firms or fire equipment dealers if your fire department was unable to provide you with one. Only a licensed and NFPA certified fire hose testing technician should test your fire hoses between inspections as testing on your own can cause property damage or injury to yourself or others.

Confirm that any fire testing firm you consider performs not only visual inspection of hoses, couplings and nozzles for any defects or lumps and knots in the hose jacket, but also destructive high pressure testing. In destructive tests, a certified technician cuts a small sample from a hose and forces water through it under slowly increasing or constant pressure to determine the amount of pressure at which the hose will rupture (Burst Test) or weaken (Hold Test).

Verify that any fire testing firm you consider also performs non-destructive high pressure testing. In non-destructive tests, a technician again uses water at high pressure, but on the entire length of a hose and couplings, to find defects. If for example, leakage is at the couplings during a Coupling Retention Test. And to determine that a hose conforms to proven pressure standards by the hose and hose jacket type (Proof Pressure Test), and will not rupture from high pressure under specific conditions. During the Kink Test on woven jacket fire hoses, a technician checks how much pressure a hose can handle from a temporary increase of pressure caused by a kink or bend. Additional non-destructive tests confirm that a hose will not become uncontrollable under high pressure by warping, rising or twisting by measuring the amount of deviation of warp, rise or twist from the norm a hose exhibits during high-pressure testing.

Record all fire hose testing dates, technician names and identification numbers, fire hose testing firm or dealer names and any required maintenance or repair done after testing in a log for future inspection reference. A log not only helps in maintaining a regular testing schedule, but can also act as evidence should legal issues arise after a fire over damage or injury that resulted from non-working fire hoses.

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