Unfortunately for firefighters, being in the line of duty comes with certain dangers, among them even death. According to the NFPA, there were 97 on-duty firefighter deaths in 2013. The good news is that that number is down to 87 in 2014, but this is still a number that must be improved upon. Sadly, some of these fatalities are the result of popular lightweight fire hoses that are suffering from “burn-through,” a scenario where the fire hose burns as a result of the fire they’re trying to extinguish, and is therefore rendered useless to our heroes. This was the case in a March blaze in Boston, where two firefighters were killed in a nine-alarm fire on Beacon Street.
This problem is exacerbated by using the lightweight hoses for routine house and apartment fires, since these hoses are supposed to only be used for high rises. This was not the case in the Boston fire, but it’s a common issue seen elsewhere.
This has led to researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, one of the three fire safety research centers in the United States, to study and try and create a more fire-resistant fire hose that keeps our firefighters safe. The hope is that they can create a hose that is even more fire-resistant, while still being affordable.
In addition to this research, the NFPA isn’t taking this issue lightly. Ken Willette, manager of NFPA’s public fire protection division, is looking for volunteers to join the discussion and offer suggestions for revisions to the NFPA 1961, which is the standard for fire hoses. Check out Ken’s video below, and if you’re interested in joining the discussion, be sure to submit your application on their website nfpa.org.
Hopefully these studies and open discussions lead to a safer, more flame-retardant fire hose. Keeping our heroes safe is the ultimate goal as they help to keep others safe on a daily basis.