No announcement yet.

Smooth Bore vs. Automatic Nozzles - revisited I'm sure

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Smooth Bore vs. Automatic Nozzles - revisited I'm sure

    A friend an I recently got into the discussion of using automatic nozzles versus smooth bore nozzles. While our department claims to be progressive and keeping up with the times, we all know we're lacking behind and change is difficult. "It's always worked before, why change it" seems to come up an awful lot, so when I asked him about making the switch on our attack lines from auomatics to smooth he scoffed immediately. I'm looking for some advantages to smooth bore nozzles to bring them to support my idea. Thanks!!

  • #2
    At a recent house fire, we were battling a fully involved fire, the house having a tin roof. With collapse almost imminent, we were ordered out of the house, and off of the roof before vent holes could be cut. Most of the fire was in the attic in heavy timbers. We tried to cut through the soffet of the house to get our automatics to get in the attic with no luck. One lieutenant had the idea to pull out the smooth bore nozzle out of the cabinet, put it on our attack line, and used it to peel the tin roof right off. I was amazed at the effect it had on the roof, allowing us to get some access into the attic. Just one experience I have had with it, and I liked it.....
    If you arent having fun, quit.


    • #3
      Do a search on this, and you will come up with literally thousands of posts!

      Smoothbores, automatic nozzles, combp nozzles are just tools in the aresnal... they aren't any good unless you use your brain to develop tactics and strategy to put the fire aout!
      ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
      Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


      • #4
        Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
        Smoothbores, automatic nozzles, combp nozzles are just tools in the aresnal... they aren't any good unless you use your brain to develop tactics and strategy to put the fire aout!
        There is some wisdom for you!

        Our Great-Grandfathers did this job with buckets and horse-drawn carriages. To say you "can't" fight fire with any one of these tools is pure stubborness, and not based on fact.

        Don't narrow your options because he-said, she-said. Every tool on the truck has a use somewhere, but can only do the job if you use it right.
        Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!



        • #5
          Smoth Bore and nothng else. Nothing like throwing a lot of water with little nozzle reaction. Best of all no steam soup.
          "Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself."


          • #6
            Their is no comparison between a sb and an automatic, the automatic is the far inferior tool. Now smooth bore vs fog, vindicator, thumb over the open butt of a hose could be debated. But automatic, not worth the money.

            The automatic nozzle is the most expensive of all nozzle types. It also needs the most training to use efficiently and safely. Automatics need the most maintenence also. The nozzle is designed to maintain the same pressure over a wide range of gpm. It is difficult if not impossible to figure the exact gpm from the tip. GPM puts out fires the automatics will deliver a good stream but it could be a very inadequate flow. I've found that because of how the automatic works it has a higher nozzle reaction then many nozzles. With the ever popular TFT the nozzleman throttles down the nozzle greatly reducing flow.

            About the only advantage to the automatic is the ability to increase flow based on available water. If the nozzle is flowing 150 gpm at 100 psi an increase of pressure would increase the flow.
            The bad part is that if you don't have the water, kinks FL etc, the nozzle will reduce the size of the opening to maintain good reach. The flow could be useless and the officer wouldn't be able to tell based on looks. From a standpipe this could lead to a disaster. Deposits or scale in the system could also clog the automatic reducing flow and the crew may never notice until driven out by the fire.

            If used on a wye with a non automatic, the non automatic will steal the water from the automatic again reducing flow. Because of all of the chareteristics both departments I work for dumped their automatics (TFT, Elkhart SM) in favor of fixed gallonage, SB, and the vindicator.


            • #7
              To really sell this idea you need to try it and let everybody on the department try each and compare.

              Our new chief came into the department and taught a Algebra for Hydraulics class to each of us engineers. He is an awesome instructor and arguably one of the most knowledgeble man in Utah when it comes to fireground hydraulics. Anyway afterwards we were all wanting to switch from the automatics to smoothbores. Talk about the ruckus that raised. The arguments began... you've all heard them. So the chief taught the class to many more members of the department and then said over and over again "lets try it and see if what I'm saying is right. Don't take my word for it." He got each platoon a house that was to be demolished soon and we burned them over and over and over again. Trying different tactics with both smoothbores and automatics.

              Needless to say we are almost running all smoothbore nozzles now. We still have one preconnect with the automatic and it still have its uses and benefits. It is a tool. But for most of our fires we use the smoothbores.

              The biggest benefit I like is using a smoothbore in combination with the Ponn's Conquest low friction loss hose. We are running as our first in attack line: 200' of this low FL hose with a 1" SB tip. Talk about nice! 200 GPM with a PDP of 130 psi. And an easily manueverable line that knocks down a ton of fire quick!

              Again they both have advantages and disadvantages depending on the incident. But you really have to use each in the fires to fully understand which works best for you and to sell the department on the change.
              Firefighter/Paramedic Ron Sanders
              Midvale Fire Department
              Medic Ambulance 22 - A Platoon

              Firefighters, Walking where the Devil Danced!

              This is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

              Personal Website: http://RonSanders.Biz Check it Out!


              • #8
                Here is the link to a good recent discussion on this subject:

                09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
                IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
                "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
                BMI Investigator
                The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


                • #9
                  The biggest difference in the two that I can see, other than physical operation, is that you never really know how much water your automatic nozzle is really putting out. You may have a nice looking fog or spray coming out, but you can end up with very little GPM. With the SB nozzles, you know exactly how much the hoseline is putting out.
                  IACOJ Military Division
                  NM Office
                  "There are three kinds of men: The ones who learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the rest of them who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."


                  • #10
                    The flow could be useless and the officer wouldn't be able to tell based on looks.

                    What does a fire stream look like inside a fire?

                    Glow goes away...good.

                    Glow doesn't go away...bad.

                    (Except for the time I spent several minutes trying to knock down the daylight coming in through a window...yeah Chief, I, um, was just hydraulically venting the place...)

                    Yes, I've been in the odd fire that's been as perfectly clear as a scene out of Backdraft due to really good ventilation. Your most effective judge of your water flow and stream handling is...is the fire going out.

                    IMHO, the flexibility of an automatic if you're running plain water or Class A foam right from your truck (i.e. not standpipes) is worth it over smoothbores. But I'll take a smoothie flowing CAFS over a TFT

                    BTW, what you do with the nozzle is far more important than what nozzle you have.
                    IACOJ Canine Officer


                    • #11
                      Good Point!!!

                      Name one advantage of a smoothbore nozzle.

                      NO MOVING PARTS

                      Next Question?

                      Stay Safe....
                      Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
                      In memory of
                      Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
                      Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

                      IACOJ Budget Analyst

                      I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.



                      • #12
                        As has been said many times before, every type of nozzle is putting out fires somewhere on earth. The key for all nozzles is that they are properly trained with and maintained, supplied and applied.

                        ADSNWNFLD, there is nothing wrong with automatics as long as the department is willing to make the commitment to maintenance. Those that haven’t serviced or lubricated their autos in the ten years since they were purchased with the rig are another story.

                        Your cost argument is nil, especially considering that your departments use Vindicators. Moreover, fire departments find utterly absurd things to waste money on, so I don’t think the additional cost of a more expensive nozzle is of much concern. Take the Q off of the next truck if that’s what it takes.

                        I believe that lack of money should never be used as an excuse when buying equipment that a department truly feels is the best available and allows them to best serve the population they protect.

                        As Dal states, no nozzle rivals the flexibility and versatility offered by the automatic, and many departments feel that the extra cost and maintenance requirements of autos are well worth the advantage.


                        • #13
                          Another note:

                          The "throttling back" option with TFTs can actually make it more feasible to use high-flow handlines.

                          Your typical two man crew can't advance while flowing a 250gpm 1 3/4" line. However, the TFT allows the crew to partially gate back the nozzle to ~150gpm while advancing, and then settle down for the full 250gpm flow once they find the seat of the fire.

                          So this so-called "flow reducing" feature of the TFT may actually help a minimally staffed crew utilize a high-flow handline, and hit the seat of the fire with a flow not possible with other nozzles.

                          Again, successful implementation of this technique is all dependent on the nozzle being properly trained with and maintained, supplied and applied.
                          Last edited by HFDCLanger; 06-18-2003, 01:19 PM.


                          • #14
                            You really need to do the math on the friction looses involved with the 250gpm 1-3/4 handline. If it takes 2 of you to pull it why don't you just pull a 2-1/2 and flow 330 gpm from the 1-1/4 tip? Seems to me you're cheating yourself out of 80gpm with the same amount of work. Here's something to do when you get bored. Take 3 nozzles, 1-smoothbore, 1 automatic and 1 of the gpm adjustable nozzles. Plae each one on an outlet with a CALIBRATED flow meter. Run the pressure up to whatever the mfg suggests. Check the gpm. now start backing the pressure down. The s/b gives up about 40 psi, The auto will give up about 65psi (a 100psi nozzle). If you keep adjusting the gpm ring down on the other nozzle, you'll find that you can get a decent stream down to about 50psi. (100psi nozzle). I thought that was pretty cool since autos have long been advertised as the ultimate nozzle. Seems that some of the pressure is used up operating the nozzle mechanism instead of making a stream.


                            • #15
                              Seems that some of the pressure is used up operating the nozzle mechanism instead of making a stream.

                              And the problem is?

                              All nozzles flowing non-aspirated streams at the normal flows & pressures we use will reach 100' horizontal or more with an effective stream.

                              Certainly in some situations, common in some concentrated areas (i.e. Urban) but rare to non-existent in much of the country, like working off minimally designed or maintained standpipes or very long handline stretches in midsize to large commercial buildings or large apartment buildings smoothbore nozzles make the best use of what may be limited pressure and/or contaminated standpipes.

                              There's many, many jurisdictions out there that'll never need 100' of reach to put out fire -- the buildings just ain't big enough. So the whole reach arguement is a red-herring. And pressure makes reach, so complaining the nozzle eats pressure doesn't mean much.

                              A stiff line may be hard to stretch...but it also doesn't kink much, and for most buildings in areas like mine, we're not turning a lot of corners -- go in, make a turn or two, badda bing badda bang. Automatic gives flexibility as to pattern to use (start straight stream, and shift to fog if it's advantegous to push the fire, heat, and smoke out say from a vented room & contents). And it gives flexibility as to flow to use. On fires being attacked from the outside, the ability to change pattern & flow really helps to move in close and knock down fire without blowing through a building or back-splashing yourself.

                              There tools. I see smoothbores as a specialized tool -- it does one job well. Automatics take on multiple roles, and I prefer their hydraulic functionality over adjustable gallonage -- in a rural situation depending on tank water, the OIC can have the pump operator reduce pressure to make sure the hose crew doesn't outstrip their supply. (By the way, how do you know if your automatic isn't putting out enough water? The fire isn't getting darkened down. You're not looking at the stream). An adjustable gallonage nozzle can continue to suck a set gpm despite lowering pump pressures, and a smoothbore will flow a lot at pressures low enough to kink lines easily.

                              With any of them, nozzlemanship is most important. Most fires aren't fought with handlines from 100 or 200 feet away. Many times I've seen car fires where the first several hundred gallons was wasted -- in one window, out the other by smoothbores & straight streams a crew didn't know or weren't directed to bounce off something. Even at structure fires I've seen extended periods of lines shooting out an opening. Most of us get up close & personal with our fires off reasonable length handlines (150'/200'/250') from our trucks, so pressure delivery and "clogged nozzles" really isn't a factor. So the default nozzle that works out best for flexibility? Autos.

                              IACOJ Canine Officer


                              300x600 Ad Unit (In-View)


                              Upper 300x250