Mercedes Textiles Know Your Hose Resource13

Knowing Forestry

Proven in the Wild: What Makes Forestry Fire Hose Different?

For civilians, their summer of hot dogs and parades and apple pie is in full swing. But before Independence Day, we're recognizing Wildland Firefighter Day (July 2) and putting our summer spotlight on forestry firefighting.

Today, we take a moment to honor those taking on the ever-growing threat of wildfires and remember those wildland firefighters who died in the line of duty.

For wildland firefighters, summer means peak wildfire season. Since the 1970s, the season in North America has extended from 5 months to over 7 months in length. On average, the US sees over 60,000 fires burn through 7.2 million acres yearly, which last year included devastating wildfires like in Maui where at least 115 people died.

This year's is looking like it might be even worse than last year, which was the most destructive fire season ever recorded in Canada. Natural Resources Canada reported that by Sept. 5, more than 6,132 fires had torched a staggering 16.5 million hectares of land – an area larger than Greece and more than double the previous 1989 record.

Fighting wildfires has always been a dangerous occupation, but in the past decade it has become staggering in its demands.

There are currently 42 large wildfires burning across the US being managed by approximately 6,400 wildland firefighters and support personnel. In Canada, there have been 1,773 so far this year, about 93 still active. And we’re just entering the peak months of the season!

So we’re putting the spotlight on wildland firefighting throughout July and August – first and foremost by recognizing all the hotshots, smoke divers, and hand crews out there battling the beast all season in dangerous, grueling conditions. Thank you. Stay safe out there.

And since this is Know Your Hose – let’s dive into forestry hose starting with the basics…

Why is FORESTRY FIRE HOSE DIFFERENT from municipal fire hose?

Generally speaking, forestry fire hose takes different kinds of abuse than municipal hose due to the steep or rough terrain with lots of chances to snag a line. Wildland hose has to be flexible, lightweight, and pack extremely well for crews to carry to a fire – often over long hours and even longer distances.

Probably the biggest difference comes thanks to the water source itself. Unless using tanks on brush trucks or skid units, wildland firefighters use portable fire pumps to leverage available water sources like lakes, rivers, ponds, etc. Where municipal firefighting uses a pressurized source, wildlands firefighters draft water from unpressurized open water sources like ponds and rivers that are lower than the pump itself. In addition to the suction hose needed to get the water from the source to the pump, they may also need to pump that supply long distances into portable tanks.

Using pumped water also means they are limited in the pressure and volume available – which also means they generally use smaller diameter attack hoses and nozzles than municipal firefighting, especially if they are needing to cover long distances. Even tandem pumping can only offer so much pressure on the end of a 1000’ line up a mountain.

Beyond that, there are of course significant differences in the applications – wildland firefighting often isn’t trying to extinguish as much as control larger fires. Many urban interface departments will have experienced knocking down brush fires using their standard municipal lines, but wildland firefighters may have to lay down lines over long distances from the water source to the fire. This necessitates differences in hose packs and self laying hose bags for rapid deployment – which also leads to different hose features, like quarter-turn quick connect couplings for versatility, speed and ease.

Forestry fire hose is specifically designed to meet the demands and fit the applications of firefighting in the wild. Let’s look at the five different kinds of hose commonly used in forestry firefighting.


1. Standard Untreated Forestry Attack Hose [ USDA Type I / ULC-S518.1.11 / ULC-S519.1 (Percolating) ]

Standard white, all-synthetic single jacket hose that is untreated/uncoated to keep it flexible and ultra-lightweight. This hose is available in both percolating (weeping) or non-percolating. USDA Type I forestry hose is non-percolating standard forestry hose.

Percolating fire hose is designed to self-protect against wildfire by intentionally weeping water. Many brands use a needle prick method to poke tiny holes in the lining. Mercedes uses a patented Hydro-Wick® process that allows its percolating hoses like FireBreak II® or PercoLite® to achieve wet-out 3x faster with minimal pressure loss.

2. Treated Forestry Attack Hose [ USDA Type 2 ]

Standard strobe yellow, more rugged, all-synthetic single jacket hose treated for abrasion and puncture resistance. These lines are more robust and rugged to withstand moving across rough terrain. Beyond attack, these lines may often be combined as the first line off the pump before switching to weeping hose to avoid creating a muddy mess at the water source. We see our FireBoss® used this way often.

NOTE: While wildland attack is usually 1” or 1.5” diameters, both of the above forestry models, percolating and non-percolating, are available in 2.5” size. This size is used as supply lines to carry water long distances from the pump often to a portable tank. Mercedes even makes exclusive 2.5” Merlite quarter-turn couplings to accommodate this application.

3. Hard Suction / Non-collapsing Supply Hose

Hard suction hose is designed to draft water from a source below the pump, which requires vacuum, rather than pressure. These lines should be as short as possible to get the job done and solid enough to resist collapsing. Some hard suction lines are made with PVC, and often wire-reinforced. Mercedes also offers a lightweight yet heavy-duty, all-synthetic single jacket woven option with DraftLite®.

4. Mop Up / Garden Hose

Mop up hose is small diameter (⅝” to ¾”) single jacket collapsing line used for forestry mop up, sprinklers, cottage/home protection, marine units and decon/wash down.

These lines are often fitted with garden hose couplings for flexibility of use – though Mercedes also offers a QC (quick connect) option on their Myti-Flo®: extremely lightweight and portable, circular-woven all synthetic hose designed for packing into remote areas, mop-up, hoseline and fire pump location base protections.

5. Booster Reel Hose

Booster Reel Hose is small diameter non-collapsing fire hose designed for rapid deployment to fight small fires for both municipal and wildland applications. In forestry, booster reels are usually found on brush trucks or skid units for ranged attacks.

There are EDM rubber lines available, as well as lighter synthetic, single-jacket options like our BoostLite®.

So there you have it: a brief overview of five hoses commonly used for forestry applications – one of the many ways wildland firefighting differs from structural firefighting.

We’ll continue the focus on wildland via our Instagram & Facebook throughout July & August. Follow along for #WildlandWednesday and #ForestryFriday as we share more knowledge, continue to Make the Push for mental health, and showcase our wildland offering – forestry hose, WICK® portable fire pumps, and a variety of accessories.

While we might not talk about our forestry hose or pumps as often, we know your hose and we’re just as passionate about wildland as we are municipal. Fueled by innovation over 45 years, Mercedes Textiles holds 60 patents and three facilities manufacturing forestry equipment from the foot valve to the nozzle. All proudly North American made and sold worldwide.

No matter where you fight the wild, we’re proven to deliver.