• Volume 17, Issue 2 | 2nd Quarter

    Feature Article

    Inspection, Testing, and Service Life of Fire Hose

    By Mark Conroy

    Occupant-use fire hose is fire hose intended to be used by building occupants to fight incipient fires prior to the arrival of the fire department. In order for the hose to be in good working order and ready for a fire emergency, it needs to be regularly inspected, tested, and replaced at the end of its service life. The key to making your customer’s buildings safe and ready for a fire emergency is to perform the inspections and tests required by NFPA and to know when to replace hose according to accepted timelines and conditions. Here is what you need to know to keep your customer’s occupant-use fire hose up to date and ready for use.

    The hose is inspected when it is initially placed in service. Five years after the date of manufacture (month/year) the hose requires service testing (pressure test). After the first test, the hose is required to be service tested every three years. Prior to each test, a hose inspection is performed to check for common problems. When the hose is removed from a building for testing, replacement hose is installed until the hose sent out for testing is returned. All fire hose must be replaced at the end of its useful life but might also need to be replaced prior to that deadline, based on problems that are identified during inspection and testing.

    Service Life of Fire Hose

    A quality control program addresses the retirement of fire hose at the end of its useful life, but many building owners and managers don’t have one. Offer to provide assistance with developing a replacement schedule. The following three factors come into play which dictate how long the hose remains in service and hose that might be a safety problem is removed:

    • Type and frequency of use of the hose
    • Testing results for the hose
    • Age of the hose

    Occupant-use fire hose has an expected service life. Regardless of use and testing results, a maximum service life of 10 years is generally accepted, based on the annex information contained in NFPA 1962, Standard for the Care, Use, Inspection, Service-Testing, and Replacement of Fire Hose, Couplings, Nozzles, and Fire Hose Appliances. According to NFPA, limited testing of in-service fire hose (by the Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association) indicates an increased risk of failure after 10 years. The testing looked at the reduction in burst pressure, ozone degradation, liner adhesion and degradation, hose strength, normal wear patterns, and UV degradation of fibers. Therefore, the current standard of practice is to replace occupant-use fire hose when the hose reaches a date of 10 years from the date of manufacture (month/year).

    Annual Fire Hose Inspections

    On an annual basis, occupant-use hose is required to be taken off the reel or rack, or unrolled to be inspected. Hoses must be inspected more frequently for damage where there is a potential for rodent damage to the hose. When the hose is returned to service following an inspection, care must be taken to make sure folds do not occur in the same places along the hose. But remember, in addition to regular inspections, whenever a hose is used, it needs to be inspected, service tested, cleaned, and dried.

    The objective of hose inspections is to examine the hose to make sure there is no tampering, it is free of debris, and to check for mildew, rot, chemical damage, cuts, burns, abrasion, and vermin. At the time of the inspection, check to make sure the service test of the hose is current.

    At each end of the hose, the interior is visually inspected to make sure the liner is not delaminating. The hose is condemned when the liner is delaminating. Other items identified during an inspection might be repairable. When repairs are made, the hose must be service tested.

    Any hose with problem coupling(s) is removed from service so the coupling(s) can be repaired or replaced. Any gasket that is defective or does not fit correctly is replaced. Where damaged threads are discovered, they can often be repaired at a local machine shop.

    Cleaning and Drying of Occupant Use Hose

    After each use, fire hose is required to be cleaned and dried. Cleaning and drying after use will increase service life. Where it is not possible to brush dirt completely from a hose or where a hose has contacted harmful materials, it needs to be washed. Where hose is exposed to hazardous materials, it needs to be decontaminated. Covered hose is allowed to be wiped dry. But hose should never be dried on pavement or in the sun where UV damage will occur.

    Offering your customers inspection, repair, and replacement services will improve your revenues and prolong the useful life of occupant use fire hose. A quality inspection and care program necessitates understanding the code requirements, keeping good records, and providing your customers with service reports that include comprehensive checklists of items that are examined and actions taken to correct deficiencies. Make sure your customers get the most out of their hose as the 10 year service life starts the month and year that the hose was manufactured. Ordering hose manufactured any month during the year from Brooks will satisfy the NFPA criteria. We understand service life and will make sure you and your customers get the most out of every fire hose we supply.

    Fire Hose Service and Inspection and Testing Frequencies

    Time Frame Inspection Service Test Remove from Service
    Initially Placed In-Service Yes N/A If product defect is identified
    5-Years From Date of Manufacture Yes Yes When Hose Fails Inspection/Test
    Every 3 Years After First Test Yes Yes When Hose Fails Inspection/Test
    10-Years From Date of Manufacture* No No Yes

    *10 year removal is based on the month and year marked on the hose.

    Mark Conroy is an engineer and code compliance specialist in our Boston office.

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in these articles are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment Company, LLC expressly disclaims any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article(s) or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.