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What Are the Different Types of Fire Hose?

What Are the Different Types of Fire Hose?

Fire hoses are an integral part of public safety, but did you know there are actually various types that should be used in different situations? In this article, we’ll explore each of these types of fire hose, and how they can be best used.

Keep reading for more information about fire hoses and their applications…

What are fire hoses used for?

As the name suggests, the primary use for fire hoses is to supply water or other retardants (like foam) needed to extinguish fires.

These hoses are attached to water sources, like those found on fire engines or underground fire hydrants, and tend to use pressure to force the materials through the hose. However, there are some alternative uses for fire hoses which we will explore in more detail below.

What should you consider before buying a fire hose?

Since there are several different types of fire hose, there are also several elements to consider when it comes to choosing the right type of hose for your needs.

For example, a hard hose is better when you need to transport unpressurised water because it won’t collapse back in on itself. Alternatively, soft hoses are easier to handle, which makes them better for repeated deployments.

We recommend asking yourself the following questions, as these will help you narrow down the characteristics of the right fire hose for you.

  • What job do you need the fire hose for?
  • Are there any regulations it needs to meet?
  • How difficult is the fire hose to maintain?
  • How long will your hose last?

What is the lifespan of a fire hose?

Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer to this question. The lifespan of most fire hoses depends on the frequency of use, and how much stress the materials are put under on a regular basis.

For example, regular use can cause the materials to degrade quicker, and you’ll need to replace your fire hose more often.

However, proper care will help you maximise the lifespan of your fire hose, as you can prevent external damages. Regular testing will also help you spot any problem areas early, so you could repair them rather than replace the whole unit (if it’s safe to do so).

Note: There is evidence that fire hoses with more protection from abrasion - that is external cuts and scuffs - will last longer, but this is not an exact science.

Basic fire hose construction

Before we get into the details, it’s worth explaining the basic construction and terms we use to describe different fire hoses.


The diameter describes the width of the hose. This is important as it can impact how much water can pass through at once in addition to the pressure it can carry.


The liner is the part of the fire hose the material actually passes through, aka the tube. This is most commonly made of synthetic rubbers like ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), thermoplastics/extruded polyurethane or nitrile rubber. 

These materials are durable, flexible, and capable of withstanding high pressures, making them ideal for fire hose linings.


The jacket is the external layer of a fire hose. In the past, this layer was made of woven natural fibres like cotton. However, this is largely discontinued due to cotton's tendency to decay when not properly dried.

Nowadays, fire hose jackets are typically made from synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester, although some are made of rubber.


Fire hose coatings are an additional layer of protection for the jacket. For example, some hoses have an anti-abrasion coating to reduce the effects of cuts and scrapes that could damage the jackets.


Fire hose couplings form the attachment between the hose and water/liquid source. These are commonly made from aluminium for durability.

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Psi stands for pressure per square inch, and is used to measure pressure. Knowing the psi of a fire hose helps you to understand when and where it can be used safely.

The 3 main fire hose types

In this section, we’ll explore the 3 primary types of fire hose, and how their individual characteristics affects their use.

Single jacket fire hose

A single jacket fire hose is where there is only one external layer, or jacket, surrounding the internal tube.

These fire hoses are typically much lighter and more flexible than other types, which is important for situations where mobility matters - like forest fires, or within multi-storey buildings. This also makes them ideal for hosing down industrial equipment.

They’re also more suited to temporary use, or on less abrasive surfaces like grass, to prevent the jacket from wearing too quickly. 

However, since there is only one layer of reinforcement for the inner tube, single jacket fire hoses have lower psi capabilities. This means that they could burst under higher pressures, so it’s important they’re used correctly.

Single jacket fire hoses are often cheaper and easier to repair, so they’re excellent for industries with less frequent demand for a fire hose, or those who need a hose for lower pressure applications.

Double jacket fire hose

Double jacket fire hoses are, unsurprisingly, composed of an inner lining protected by two layers of woven fabric.

A double jacket means the outside of the fire hose is thicker, affording better protection for the inner tube from rough terrain, cuts and scrapes. So, a double jacket fire hose is better to use for fires in industrial areas where the ground is sharper or uneven.

Double jackets can also be treated to resist mould and mildew, which can help extend the lifespan of the hose.

The double layering increases the fire hose’s structural integrity, and allows it to withstand higher pressures than a single jacket model. This makes this type more desirable for fighting bigger fires because liquid can be pumped through in higher quantities.

However, what double jacket fire hoses gain in durability, they have to sacrifice in flexibility. This means they’re less manoeuvrable and can be harder to use. They’re also heavier, and can require more people to operate them properly.

Rubber-covered/lay flat fire hose

Rubber-covered fire hoses combine the flexibility of the single jacket with the durability of the double jacket to create a versatile product that can have a range of uses.

These hoses are typically made with a “through-the-weave” construction. This is a process where the synthetic jacket is put through a rubber extruder to bond the inside and outside with a layer of rubber - creating a stronger connection between the materials.

Note: A rubber extruder is a machine to shape rubber before vulcanisation (the process in which rubber is hardened to retain the desired shape).

This process creates a higher level of protection from ozone and oxidation, fuels, oils, chemicals and abrasions that could damage the hose. As such, rubber-covered fire hoses are more suited for use in industrial areas because they have a better chemical resistance.

Rubber-covered hoses are also less prone to kinking, and much simpler to clean, which helps with maintenance. They’re also easy to store, as they can roll onto a fire hose reel and be kept out of the way until they’re needed again.

A fire hose reel

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Industry specific fire hose applications

With this information in mind, this section will further explain some of the practical applications for the different types of hose, and how their qualities make them fit for purpose.

Fire fighting

Fire hoses are most commonly used to fight fires, however, each type of hose will be more suited to different parts of this process.

Supply lines

Firefighters use supply lines to move water from the main source to the pumps that feed attack lines (see below). These are also known as intake lines because they bring in the water.

These hoses need to supply large amounts of water under lower pressures, so you can see single jacket or rubber-covered fire hoses used in these instances. 

Attack lines

Also known as booster lines, attack lines are branches of the supply line that are designed to deliver water at high pressures directly onto the fire. These are more likely to be double jacket fire hoses, as they can withstand higher pressure situations.

Location specific fire hose

The types of fire hose used will also depend on location. In urban areas, the water supply is typically already pressurised, so firefighters can connect their hoses to hydrants in the area for easy access to water.

In more rural areas, they may need a special type of non-collapsible fire hose to suction water from a lake or river.

Industrial cleaning

Fire hoses can also be used for industrial cleaning, where large quantities of water are needed within an area.

Single jacket fire hose is often used for cleaning because it’s budget-friendly, light, and easy for one person to handle.

A wire whipped fire hose

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Water management

In most cases, a fire hose is used to send water from one place to another in order to extinguish a fire. However, they can have broader water management applications.

Rubber-coated lay-flat fire hoses are often used for agricultural irrigation because they take up less space than water channels, and can easily be put away when not in use.

These hoses can also be used to move flood water. As the water is suctioned by a water pump, it can be sent elsewhere via a lay-flat fire hose. Once the job is finished, lay-flat hoses can be quickly packed away onto fire hose reels and stored until they’re needed again.

Explore our range of fire hoses and couplings at The Hosemaster

We hope you’ve found this article informative, and that you understand more about the different types of fire hose available.

At The Hosemaster, we have a wide range of fire hoses, couplings, fire hose reels and nozzles to choose from. If you’re unsure which is the best product for your needs, contact our team for more personalised advice.

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